Question of the Week: How do you use social media to promote your genealogy?

+17 votes

Are you familiar with WikiTree's Cousin Bait tools? Have you used them? What kind of response did you get?

WikiTree has buttons for Google+, Facebook and Twitter. I've also seen people use Pinterest and Instagram to share old family photos, maps, and documents. What's your favorite method?

Something I'd like to do more often is use the Anniversaries list (here's yours) to promote one of my ancestors who has a birth or death anniversary. This can be a great way to catch the attention of cousins!

asked in The Tree House by Julie Ricketts G2G6 Pilot (254k points)
Don't really make a point of doing a lot of promotion per se, it is a secondary result of when I respond to a query about a person or genealogy.  I have posted some of my genealogies on Facebook, RootsWeb and Genforum besides joining WikiTree over a year ago, of which I have tried to promote the site.
Sorry, meant to do this as an answer not a comment.

On Facebook I've been honoring my ancestors on their birthdays and anniversaries by writing a bio and including pictures of them or their gravestones or of some document that mentions them. The first year I did parents thru 2nd greats. The second was for 3rd greats plus aunts, uncles, great aunts and great uncles with no living descendants. This year it is 4th greats. Next year I may do famous and infamous ancestors and other relatives. I get to share my work and my cousins get to learn some about their ancestors.

On FB I use 2 groups :

 "Strictly Scottish Genealogy" ( which has a wealth of helpful, knowledgeable people who give generously of their time to aid in your research)

 and also

"Photos of your Scottish Ancestors" which is interesting & occasionally fruitful.
I do not use any social media as there is toomuch abuse DC
Yes, I have a few family groups on facebook and i use the anniversary list a lot to post. I've met a lot of cousins through facebook this way.
I used facebook to promote a short bio of my grandfather that fought in world war 1 before.  I put a pic of him up with a brief bio.  It was around Nov 11.

36 Answers

+18 votes
I write a blog about my ancestors and put links on ancestry and wikitree to attract cousins. I have actually had a few people track me down and call me at work which was kinda creepy fun. I started a facebook group for my family, but it was not a hit, but I belong to other facebook surname groups which are really active. They can be a great way to reach cousins.
answered by Jeanie Roberts G2G6 Pilot (116k points)
I love the idea of a blog, Jeanie. I've been wanting to carve out some time to do the same!

Would you share the link to yours to give people some inspiration? :-)

It's a lot fun to write, and I think it made me a better researcher.

That's fantastic, Jeanie! I love "Jeanieology" :-D


Jeanie, would you like our Blogger badge?

Hi Jeanie,

You're a good writer. Nice to see that WikiTree widget on there too!

Regarding the Facebook surname groups, I was thinking we should say something more about them on where we talk about forums and social media. Maybe you could say a bit more about how you found them, how you use them, and how they benefit your genealogy? It would be cool if we could quote you.

Have a great weekend,



Thank You!
+11 votes
Website & Facebook
answered by Doug Lockwood G2G Astronaut (2.3m points)
+11 votes
I actually do not use social media to promote WikiTree. I only use Facebook for unimportant things and have been reducing my friends list there but last week I did start a conversation on Facebook messenger about a family get together and mentioned WikiTree. She seemed interested so I created a profile for her and invited her to join. She did and added a few things about her line that I did not know.
answered by Dale Byers G2G Astronaut (1.1m points)
+10 votes
Mainly my website(s) and blog(s). The blogs are sadly out-of-date; I spend all my time on Wikitree proper - which is where people have found me!

I also have a closed Facebook group for my BLAGDON relatives; I tried using the Anniversaries pull-down, and to my mind it was terrific, but all the relatives kept doing was asking "how am I related to him/her?"  One of the best things I have done was use the facility where you can share your tree in a jpg on FB.
answered by Ros Haywood G2G6 Pilot (453k points)
+7 votes
I am completely and utterly embarrassed about my interest in genealogy, so I would never consider promoting it.
answered by J. Crook G2G6 Pilot (151k points)
Why would you be embarrassed about that?  Genealogy is a passion for many people, myself included. I think it is really interesting to learn about where you came from.
I agree with Summer.  Learning about history in general, through your own family history, is fascinating.  I find that it gets other family members excited and engaged when they learn something new about their ancestors.  I have learned so much about American History that I never learned in school.  Never apologize for having a curious mind!
I agree with Summer and Leigh. Nothing to be embarrassed about unless you are one who lets it take over conversations. Since you are embarrassed, that wouldn't be you. I've found others are interested. One of my neighbors turns out to also be interested after I made a casual comment about working on it. We have now found our common ancestor in Colonial Massachusetts.
+8 votes
I post on Facebook, write blogs about it.....I try to do at least one quarterly blog post about something genealogy-related; originally I was doing weekly posts but finding time to sit down and write is sometimes hard.  I decided monthly would be easier....but that hasn't always happened either!
answered by Summer Orman G2G6 Mach 8 (82.8k points)
+9 votes
I post to Facebook from time to time based on the Anniversary prompts. Sometimes a link to WikiTree gets added, other times not, depending on the circumstance and the status of the person's profile. If the GEDCOM cleanup isn't done yet, I don't include the link.

The Family Group Sheet image for my great-grandparents is the current header photo for a closed family group on Facebook. We use the group to coordinate the annual reunion and the image helps people see where they're connected to the family.

When I have used links, I hear from the couple of people that are already members of WikiTree. So far, there's been no expressed interest from those who aren't.
answered by Debi Hoag G2G6 Pilot (194k points)
+12 votes
I do Facebook as well, and then follow it up in person if it is someone who lives close to me. I am on several veterans Facebook organizations and have found some very interested, just hard for them to find their ancestors records at times.

Other times its a follow up with my cousins on Facebook keeping up with marriages, death announcements, new arrivals, events like that in their lives where I would need to update any records I already started here on WikiTree.
answered by Dorothy Barry G2G Astronaut (1.2m points)
+7 votes
Social media to me is more than twitter, facebook, etc...   

To me it includes genealogically based email lists from rootsweb, yahoo groups, and other organizations with a specific interest like GenVerrE which is focused to descendants of glass and crystal makers.  

Also posting on "project" pages related to dna  or other genealogically focused endeavors.  

I manage or co-administer a number of boards or lists.  I am also a member of more than 20 that I do not manage or co-admin.  

I have been adding about 100 people a month and as I get a branch done I let people on these various lists know about it.  I am hoping by inviting people to see my profiles on WikiTree it will bring more of them to WikiTree.  I also emphasize it is a free site with many of the advantages of pay sites.  (my little commercial!)

Anyway, I have recently found a cousin who lives in Germany.  I did this through dna and together we have gotten our lines connected and are now getting ready to add at least another 4 or 5 generations!  She reads the German I do not and I had the links to online records she did not!  A great symbiotic relationship.  She and I now both have profiles on WikiTree.  

Social media that is specifically focused to genealogy is I think far more productive than just general social media.  

Thanks for asking!
answered by Laura Bozzay G2G6 Pilot (448k points)
+7 votes
Facebook is how I have found cousins. It is a way of knowing about someone other than their name and date. They can become real people with family and happenings and interests. It puts some flesh on genealogy. I  found a cousin once removed who is interested in genealogy. I invited her to Wikitree, but she hasn't come over yet. It can be disconcerting during the time, when politics are posted. How can they be so wrong, and be MY cousins, how ignorant! You also get information when babies are born and parents die.
answered by Sue Hall G2G6 Mach 8 (83.2k points)
+5 votes
I belong to a couple of New Zealand Facebook genealogy/history groups. Though I have never come across a cousin there, I do actively promote wikitree when there are discussions about websites for storing trees. (An aside - I was doing some research for a new family and came across a geni profile curated by someone I had "argued" with online about which site was better. It took me less than a minute to prove the geni birthplace was wrong via familysearch!)
answered by Fiona Gilliver G2G6 Mach 6 (62.8k points)
+6 votes
I do not use Social Media for anything.  I use Wikipedia or my great grandmother's family genealogy.
answered by Leslie Newell G2G2 (2.7k points)
+5 votes
I need to use these buttons more. I have a Facebook group for my least common surname. It has gotten some attention but not a great deal, but then I didn't expect much since it is somewhat obscure. Otherwise, I use Facebook to share important discoveries with my own family and distant cousins.
answered by Loretta Layman G2G6 Mach 1 (19.7k points)
+7 votes
I am the elected family historian of our family reunion association.  I use facebook to keep informed about family happenings and to inform other people of significant family-related events.  Our family reunion includes over 2000 descendants of the man who first came to America from Denmark, so I've found facebook to be the most effective way to keep track of relatives and disseminate family history information.  I haven't done a lot with wikitree yet -- only invited a few select cousins to join, but plan on inviting everyone in the family association when I get all of the information I've gathered posted to wikitree.
answered by Gilbert Nelson G2G4 (4.5k points)
+5 votes
Yes, I do use Facebook for genealogy, I have found over 200. 2-3rd  cousins which helped tremendously.  We even met in persons. It's a great way to expend your genealogy and knowing your family...Once we started to talk about sickness and illness facts they were more interested. Some are not to interested but gave me the information needed. I enjoyed it very much....Thank you...
answered by Lise Rodrigue G2G6 Mach 1 (10.1k points)
+5 votes
I would never consider that, FB has too much information available to anyone now, why make it even easier? Mothers maiden name is still used by many CC vendors, how easy is that, birth dates, anniversaryies, easy pickings for scammers and phishers.
answered by Cindy Behr G2G2 (2.1k points)

My husband is in Internet security, and his recommendation is to use a nonsense word instead of using your mother's maiden name (or whatever other info they ask for). The companies that ask for that information don't really care what you use. :-)

We also use a password "vault," which is a piece of software that houses all your passwords so that you can have different passwords for different websites. It also generates random passwords to make sure they're more secure.

Just some ideas in case one of your cousins starts a group, and you want to be a part of it.

But ... to each their own! I'm not a big user of Facebook, either. ;-)

+7 votes

I use facebook with groups (Cork Genealogical SocietyIrish Genealogy, and DNA CORCAIGH Private DNA Cork Project).  They are closed groups and I know that they can be hacked, but they provide great resources and help.

answered by Richard Collins G2G Crew (470 points)
+5 votes

I use my blog, where I have a widget for WikiTree as well as Facebook for connecting with relatives. When I have brick walls, it has been really great to write about my research and ask for any information anyone could add via my blog. I have received a gold mine of information and help from distant relatives in this way. Plus making lasting relationships with those who are serious family researchers like myself. Using Facebook by searching relatives who may also be on Facebook and sending them messages, asking for photos or help may seem kinda creepy, but I have overall had good vibes from this and it has helped tremendously in contributing research and forming relationships with lost 2nd cousins.

I've also made family groups on Facebook for each branch of my family and my spouses and have added all relatives to it and asked they do the same and here it becomes like a family reunion where we share photos, family stories, etc. I always share a link to my WikiTree tree so they may also add there. They are always excited about seeing what I have added to the tree.


answered by Michelle Ladner G2G6 Mach 1 (11.7k points)
+5 votes
I belong to an Aboriginal Genealogy Network - we have a facebook page facebook/aboriginal.ancestors.  Use it to post family pictures, occasionally answer a 'how to ...." question, list family reunions, and people ask for help to track documents or details about ancestors - there are often few, if any, documents for ancestors before 1900 (west coast - BC only required vital statistics for people of aboriginal or Asian descent since 1917, and census data before 1900 is mostly lists compiled by Christian missionaries.

Its a great way of keeping family in touch from a distance, and discovering new info - photos are especially popular.
answered by Sharon Runolfsson G2G4 (4.3k points)
+5 votes
No, so far, I have not used social media other that responding to those who choose to communicate with me on their sites.
answered by David Wood G2G Crew (350 points)

Related questions

+16 votes
16 answers

WikiTree  ~  About  ~  Help Help  ~  Search Person Search  ~  Surname:

disclaimer - terms - copyright