Taking on Twitter

I just realized that I haven’t blogged about my first genealogy conference…FTU’s Virtual Conference. I loved the concept of real-time classes and chats with the option to download them for later viewing. There were several courses that I wasn’t able to attend live due to scheduling problems so the download option was very helpful. You don’t get that option at regular conferences!

Prior to the conference I was especially looking forward to the Twitter for Genealogists class. Nancy Hendrickson was the instructor and as usual she did a great job. She is very good at breaking down concepts and giving a thorough explanation, which I needed. Because (true confessions now) I have had a terrible time “getting” Twitter.

I’m usually an early adopter with new technology. I was trying to figure out how to get on Facebook back when it was still restricted to college students (I couldn’t…I had to wait until they opened it up to everyone…much to my then-college son’s relief I’m sure). And I signed up for a Twitter account fairly early on as well. The trouble was I just didn’t see the point. I couldn’t think of anything interesting to say. I bored myself with my tweets! I found a couple of people I knew to “follow” but they didn’t seem to know what to do with Twitter either. So my account went unused for a looong time.

When I started doing genealogy last year I found that a lot of genealogists were using Twitter. And some of them tweeted a LOT! (@FamilyStories I’m looking at you!) What did they know that I didn’t? I was confused about all the #’s and DM’s and @names and on and on.

From Nancy’s class I learned that the #’s are something called hashtags, and they are good for finding ‘tweets’ on topics you’re interested in such as #genealogy or #history. You can also ‘follow’ other users which allows you to see their ‘tweets’ in your tweet feed. But the most useful thing I learned about in the class was TweetDeck. TweetDeck is a third party application (now owned by Twitter) that manages the Twitter feed and makes it much more functional. Oh my goodness is TweetDeck awesome. TweetDeck makes Twitter make sense! Finally, I ‘get’ it. I don’t think I will ever be a power user but I’m having fun with it.

You can still take the Twitter for Genealogists class. It’s available for download at ShopFamilyTree.com. When you get up and running on Twitter, look me up. I promise I’ll follow you!


Family Tree Firsts is an ongoing blog series featuring newbie genealogist Nancy Shively of Skiatook, OK. Read all her posts at Family Tree University.

Polish up your genealogy skills with Family Tree University courses! Courses starting Oct. 10 include Irish Research 201, Reverse Genealogy, Find Your German Roots and more. View the course schedule and register here.

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