Last time, we talked about creating a profile and posting a profile picture in the About Me section of your blog to get your readers to know a little bit about you personally, and to easily identify you. Now it's time to take that profile photo and use it on your social networking websites.
Join Social Networking Sites
"What social networking websites?" I can hear you ask. "And why would I want to join a social networking website?"
Social networking websites, such as Facebook, MySpace, LinkedIn and a host of others are great places to meet potential readers and connect with family members. Let me describe these three websites briefly:
MySpace is generally geared to tweens and teens, although a good many older people use them as well. Each "space" or personal mini-website that you create can not only be used as a way for others to find you (and your blog, if you list it), but can be decorated with backgrounds, photographs and enhanced with audio files to play your favorite music. This is a great way to especially connect with younger relatives who might not otherwise know about your family history blog.
Facebook seemed to originally be used by the college crowd, but has quickly surpassed that generalization and now, people of all ages and professions (or not) are using it to connect with family, friends, co-workers, and in the case of genealogists, other bloggers. Unlike MySpace pages which can be decorated with backgrounds and enhanced with audio files, Facebook profile pages have a simple, clean background without a lot of distractions.
Last summer, when scores of genealogists, family historians, and genea-bloggers joined Facebook en masse, encouraged by Megan Smolenyak Smolenyak's call to join the Unclaimed Persons Group, many felt technologically overwhelmed by Facebook and its many applications. This was made especially so when Facebook switched to the "new" Facebook, changing the way that many users had just learned how to utilize the website. Thomas MacEntee, who had started the Genea-Bloggers Group on Facebook, then created the Facebook Bootcamp for Genea-Bloggers blog to offer a tutorial and explanation resource for the many ways Facebook could be used, with the eventual outcome of enhancing our blogging experience.
LinkedIn is a social networking website that is geared toward the professional experience. As their motto proclaims, "Over 35 million professionals use LinkedIn to exchange information, ideas and opportunities." Your LinkedIn profile page is a great place to post your blog link and list yourself as the owner of a digital genealogical publication. If you speak, present, teach, or write in the genealogical world, you may wish to add your resume and contact information as well.
I've barely scratched the surface in the ways that these social networking sites can be used to reach others (posting vintage family photos, for instance; or using We're Related or other family tree applications). I have garnered a healthy following of readers from Facebook alone, and have even gotten some of my family members to read my blog (amazing!) and comment with additional or corrected information.
I encourage you to explore these sites and create profile pages listing your profile photo and the link to your blog. I especially recommend reading the articles found under the following topics at the Facebook Bootcamp for Genea-Bloggers blog: Facebook, applications, blog networks, and blogging.
Next week, I'll talk about some of the lesser-known social networking sites as well as networking applications.
Other posts in this series:
Part One: Get Listed
Part Two: Participate
Part Three: Comment and Allow Comments
Part Four: Create a Profile
Part Six: The Redux
Part Seven: Check It
Part Eight: Learn
Part Nine: Bookmarks, Feeds, and Subscriptions