D. Brenton Simons
President and CEO
When the idea of the New England Historic Genealogical Society having an official Facebook page was first broached to me in March 2009, I was supportive and hopeful but privately a little skeptical. I wondered whether our “demographic” would be a good fit for the site and whether enough people would visit our page and make such an effort worthwhile. Well, the positive and plentiful communication began right away and now, with 5,800 friends and counting, I’m a believer.
Today, the NEHGS Facebook page is one of the most interactive, dynamic portals into our organization and the field of genealogy itself. Likewise, it also represents a “bridge” from our staff to a large and supportive, international constituency of genealogists, historians, and enthusiasts. Several staff members monitor the page daily and add posts of interest or answer basic questions. News is shared, conversations started, education programs announced, and collections and archives highlighted. David Allen Lambert, our Online Genealogist, has been answering member research questions there for several months. He especially enjoys interfacing with a wide audience and sharing insights from his own experience or from NEHGS resources. “Posting on the NEHGS page gives me the opportunity to coach other genealogists and offer advice that will assist them in tearing down brick walls, “ he says. “And social networking like this” David adds, “also helps us reach members on the go, using technology like iPhones or BlackBerrys, beyond those at home on computers.”
Reaching members and making new friends is important. As the Society’s director, I am especially pleased to visit our page frequently and be in contact with constituents I might otherwise not get to know. Our visitors are enjoying the experience and even helping each other. Heather Wilkinson Rojo found a post from an individual in Australia and helped that person trace New Hampshire ancestors in her home town. “That was fun!,” she writes. Others are pleased by the personal touch from the staff. “I like having the added visibility of having NEHGS on Facebook,” offers Marian Pierre-Louis, and “the way the various staff members include their names so that we know who is writing the posts. It feels like you are individually talking to us.” For some, the page offers opportunities for broader interactions. Sara Campbell writes that Facebook “has become an important part of my ‘connectivity’ on many levels. I often ‘share’ your postings within my circle of friends.”
Thank you to our many friends who have made this social networking venture an extremely positive one for NEHGS and its audiences. If you have not already done so, please consider becoming a “friend” of the New England Historic Genealogical Society on Facebook and join our supportive and growing online community. We would love to see you there.