Using Twitter in genealogy


There are loads of articles written about the popular micro-blogging tool Twitter, but I thought that I’d try to share a couple of interesting and handy hints that I have picked up over the last few weeks that has resulted in finding new connections and increasing followers.

1. Connect

The most important thing about Twitter is that it is a social tool. Therefore, you need to socialise to get anything out of it. The more you ‘Tweet’ (the term given to your 140 character or less statement) the more people can find you and the more people will interact with you.

2. Hashtags

You might use good words in your 140 character limit that include things like ‘familytree’ or ‘history’ or ‘Cambridge’ etc but by adding some hashtags to your comment will help you to turn up in searches. You should enter phrases such as #genealogy or #familytree or #census. Don’t put spaces in.

3. Follow

Follow people. Follow people that say things that you’re interested in. 9/10 they will follow you too… and so every time they tweet @you, other people can see it – and therefore find you.

A combination of Follow and hashtags is used each week with Friday’s being recognised as #followfriday – a hashtag to go in your tweet along with a list of your friends (typed like ‘@username’) to encourage your friends to follow some of your other friends – thus building up the social networking idea.

4. Searching

While you can do a general search, you can also do a specific search by doing the following:

Go to the search screen and type your search word – e.g. “cross”. Then type near:CambridgeEngland to tell the search engine to search for Cross from near Ely, England (in this case the Cambridgeshire one). Then, still without having clicked the search, you can even add a distance within:15mi (for miles) or within:15km . So, this gives you a line of text in the search box reading:

“cross” near:CambridgeEngland within:15mi

Click search, and Twitter’s search engine will bring up all posts that contain the word Cross, tweeted from Cambridge and a 15 mile radius.

You may be able to tailor the word, location and distance to your needs. Have a play around with the location field. If I had put just ‘Cambridge’ and not ‘England’ alongside it, it would have defaulted to the USA. You can always check that you’ve got the right location in the search results because a map of the area that you’ve searched is shown on the right of the results screen.

Have fun and let me know if you find any leads!

Andrew

Author: Andrew Martin

+Andrew Martin is owner and lead writer for History Repeating and Family Tree UK. Genealogist, historian, writer, photographer and would-be archaeologist. He'd love a time machine, but worries that it might take all the fun out of it.

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