Open Thread Thursday: Does The Official Blogger Concept Need Updating?

open thread

This week’s topic for Open Thread Thursday is:

The concept of having a set of “official bloggers” to help publicize a genealogy conference, event or project via social media has some precedence in the genealogy industry.

Do you think the concept of Official Bloggers is a good thing for our community? Or should there be a level playing field where anyone can help crowd source an event or project within the genealogy industry, with or without “perks” involved?

Post your responses in the comments or at a post on your own genealogy blog and place the link here in the comments.

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Official Bloggers – The Concept

True confession: I’ll admit that I’ve helped develop the concept of Official Bloggers for many genealogy conferences and events.  I’ll also admit that at the time, the focus was on ways to help publicize an event through social media and the power of the genealogy blogging community.

After a few years of  being involved in the process of selecting bloggers to be designated as Official Bloggers, I’m re-examining the concept.  Back tracking?  Not necessarily.  For me, many concepts are in constant evolution and one way I keep tabs on that process is to look at what other parallel industries are doing with that same concept.

Official Bloggers – The Good, The Bad and The Ugly

What I like about the Official Blogger concept:

  • It can really boost publicity for an event and tap into multiple channels (Facebook, Twitter, blogs) depending upon the bloggers selected for the Official Bloggers program.
  • It can give a blogger the “inside track” as to an event or a product.
  • It can increase blog traffic for the selected bloggers.
  • It can help build buzz and excitement about an event or product.

What I dislike about the Official Blogger concept:

  • It sets up a hierarchy of bloggers and smacks of elitism and cliquishness.
  • It seems that often the same bloggers are selected to be Official Bloggers.
  • It creates a perception that some bloggers are always on the receiving end of perks and goodies.
  • It creates an expectation from some bloggers that they deserve to be Official Bloggers whether or not they do.

Are Some Bloggers More Equal Than Others?

The truth is that some genealogy bloggers do a better job at bringing attention to genealogy events and projects.  Plain and simple.  It isn’t “magic” – it involves the skillful use of various tools and concepts that are available to everyone.

And many genealogy bloggers are either open about how they “do it” or are willing to give advice if you ask them. But the fact is that some bloggers do provide better content, have a larger readership and get more traffic.  And these are the ones most likely to be selected as Official Bloggers.

Towards A Better Official Blogger Concept

What if the concept of Official Bloggers were to evolve to something similar to what Fiskars (the  immediately recognizable orange-handled scissors used by scrapbookers, crafters and quilters) is doing? They have a concept called Fiskateers in which any blogger can sign up to become an “ambassador” for their product.

With this model, the playing field is level and bloggers are rewarded based on their efforts within the program. A blogger who posts good content can become a “Fiskateer of the Week” and more.

The 1940 U.S. Census Community Project has developed a similar concept with its 1940 Blog Ambassador program. The program is open to any blogger and based on content and the ability to publicize not just the release of the 1940 Federal Census images on April 2, 2012, but also the indexing program, a blogger can be rewarded for those efforts. [Full disclosure: I am a social media consultant for FamilySearch for the 1940 U.S. Census Community Project.]

Personally, I think we’re headed in the right direction.  Over time I’d like to see the end of Official Blogger programs and more initiatives like the 1940 Blog Ambassador program.  Keep in mind that leveraging social media in the genealogy community is still a relatively new thing and certain concepts are still evolving.

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This is a great topic for this week’s Open Thread Thursday! And please, if you have a topic you’d like to see discussed among your genealogy blogging colleagues, please contact us and we’ll take it under consideration.

Disclosure:  Please see Disclosure Statements for more information on my material connection with genealogy vendors and organizations.

©2012, copyright Thomas MacEntee

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About Thomas MacEntee

What happens when a “tech guy” with a love for history gets laid off during The Great Recession of 2008? You get Thomas MacEntee, a genealogy professional who’s also a blogger, educator, author, social media connector, online community builder and more. Thomas was laid off after a 25-year career in the information technology field, so he started his own genealogy-related business called High Definition Genealogy. He also created an online community of over 3,000 family history bloggers known as GeneaBloggers. His most recent endeavor, Hack Genealogy, is an attempt to “re-purpose today’s technology for tomorrow’s genealogy.” Thomas describes himself as a lifelong learner with a background in a multitude of topics who has finally figured out what he does best: teach, inspire, instigate, and serve as a curator and go-to-guy for concept nurturing and inspiration. Thomas is a big believer in success, and that we all succeed when we help each other find success.

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