Using Facebook messenger to make contact with matches

+3 votes
115 views
Just wondering if anyone has ever used Facebook Messenger to cold contact a distant cousin? I'm talking about people that you haven't met in real life. I have tried sending a Friend Request, but usually don't get a response, which is understandable, because they don't know me in real life.

Facebook says that you can send a note to anyone through Messenger, but I am wondering if the person is not a Facebook Friend those messages go into a special folder that most people rarely look at. I've tried this 2-3 times with no response.

Also, has anyone done this and gotten success? Any advice on what is the best way to cold contact a distant cousin? I have tried Facebook, e-mail, regular postal mail, and even knocking on their door when they are in the vicinity. (The last one seems to have worked the best for me, but the applicability is limited.) Also, I have made some good contacts through Wikitree by doing the family trees of distant cousins.
in The Tree House by Robert Cox G2G5 (5.5k points)
edited by Ellen Smith

3 Answers

+2 votes
Yes, I have reached people through Facebook, Twitter, and by finding their emails. But I find the most success using messaging tools at Ancestry, age I, MyHeritage, etc. People with accounts at such places are more receptive to overtures about genealogy. And sometimes you can find a relative by running searches of trees.

Is this for DNA matching? When I am mainly interested in the person’s tree, I have had more success just identifying someone’s parents and building out a tree without contacting the person at all. Watch CeCe Moore’s shoe and you’ll see she is ridiculously skilled at this.
by Barry Smith G2G6 Pilot (219k points)
No, I was tracing the descendants of people with the name Cox in the 1850 Lenoir County, NC census to see if I could identify their descendants. I found several descendants on Facebook, and sent a note on  Messenger to see if they would like to discuss our common family history. My goal was to identify people who might be relatives and find out who my actual relatives in the 1850 Lenoir County, NC were.
What is "age I"?
Age I is autocorrect. Should have said Geni
+2 votes
Judging by the often complete lack of responses through Ancestry and Family Search I'm not at all sure that Facebook messenger would be any better.
by M Ross G2G6 Pilot (194k points)
I understand what you are saying. If they had much interest in family research, they would probably be on Ancestry or Wikitree.
Some people never check those messaging services though. I have a cousin who lost her MyHeritage password and had trouble with customer service letting her reset it, so she gave up and simply doesn’t go in. I found an old Facebook page for her artisan pickle business, and although the business had shut down she still received and responded to the message I sent through FB. Since then, we have been in regular email contact.

So I think trying a diverse assortment of methods is the most likely way to get success. I’ve also messaged people through Twitter and tracked down email addresses. If you are respectful and indicate that you know some good stuff about their ancestors, I find that sometimes they will respond.
+1 vote
I have had a ton of good luck when using Facebook messenger to reach out to folks, and I've met many long lost relatives. In one case, the people I reached out to organized a family reunion, spurred upon by my conversations with them.

But I will say that as people are becoming more and more wary of social media and the number of unethical contacts people attempt, I am noticing a decline in responses when I reach out to people.
by Alex Stronach G2G6 Pilot (324k points)

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