Open Thread Thursday: Ancestry.com’s Acquisition of Archives.com

open thread

This week’s topic for Open Thread Thursday is:

Yesterday afternoon, Wednesday, April 25, 2012, Ancestry.com announced it would acquire Archives.com from Inflection LLC for $100 Million dollars.

What do you think of this move by Ancestry? What does it mean for the genealogy industry . . . is there more consolidation ahead and less competition? What does the purchase mean for the hobby genealogist as well as the professional?

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

* * *

I don’t have much time for a long commentary since I am flying off to a speaking gig for the weekend. But I did participate in both the Q1 2012 earnings call for Ancestry.com (ACOM) yesterday as well as a special conference call hosted by Ancestry.com  to discuss the acquisition.

Once this buzzard has landed up in Green Bay, Wisconsin later today, for the Wisconsin State Genealogical Society‘s annual conference, I’ll be posting my thoughts.

***

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

Send to Kindle

Open Thread Thursday: What Has The 1940 Census Meant for the Genealogy Industry?

open thread

This week’s topic for Open Thread Thursday is:

Now that the release of the 1940 US Census images is almost three weeks old, perhaps it is time we take a minute or two to ponder what the release means to the genealogy industry and the genealogy community.

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

* * *

I’ve already written about what I think the 1940 Census means to the genealogy community over on the 1940 US Census Community Project blog (read the article here). Below are some further thoughts on the subject . . .

The 1940 Census and Community

One only has to look to the current volunteer indexing efforts for the 1940 Census to see how a community can come together behind an effort that benefits not just the genealogy field but the public.  In fact, several tech media sites and blogs have discussed this concept of enlisting people to help index data sets. I think this is the wave of the future which the Community Project partners (Archives.com, FamilySearch, findmypast.com, and National Archives) have helped publicize.

The 1940 Census and Crowdsourcing

One aspect of the release which I was very happy to see was how various genealogy vendors took to social media to publicize the release.  Using blogs, Facebook, Twitter and other tools takes careful planning and can also bring unpredictable results. In the case of the 1940 Census,  we’ve seen many “non-genealogists” search for 1940 Census images for their own home, apartment building or block. This focus may not have been anticipated, but many vendors and others were able to capitalize upon the opportunity to bring these “spectators” into the world of genealogy.

For me this is the key: recognizing possibilities as well as opportunities and leveraging them. Leveraging not just to sell your own business, but also for “good” and to promote genealogy. In the future I think we’ll see much more of this. Can you anticipate every possibility in terms of how a concept will take off via social media?  No . . . but what you can plan for is this: be ready to react, to welcome people and to sell the concept.

The 1940 Census and Opportunists

Unfortunately, the hucksters and opportunists capitalized upon the 1940 Census frenzy as well.  It seems that no matter what – even with a major disaster – these folks will be there to spread misinformation and outright scam folks. What to do?  One approach is to just “stay on message” and focus on the positive.  Another is to help the newcomers by providing them links to tools such as Steve Morse’s One-Step site.

Ancestry.com decided to promote the #1940census hashtag on Twitter on Tuesday, April 3, 2012, which was good, bad and ugly. Good because it brought added focus to the 1940 Census images and many folks in our community stepped in to answer questions. Bad because with increased focus come the opportunists (see below).  Soon everyone was using #1940census to sell anything and everything from fake Rolex watches to  . . . well, you can only imagine. And the ugly: who knew there was so many clueless people – especially young people – who couldn’t understand why #1940census was “trending” on Twitter.

Also, one approach I’ve taken is to not only put out warning signals to the community via social media about fake sites and scam links, but also confront those who are being less-than-honest about the 1940 Census image release. We should all be committed to keeping the genealogy and family history field one that is safe, family-friendly and welcoming.

The 1940 Census as a Welcome Mat

Perhaps three weeks out is too short a time to do any meaningful “looking back,” but here is what I see as the main success of the 1940 Census: The genealogy community came together to put out a new welcome mat to those new to the field.  As I’ve said before, growth of the genealogy biz will only happen if we look not only to spruce up the welcome mats currently in use, but also try new ones when appropriate.

***

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

Send to Kindle

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.

* * *

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.

***

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

Send to Kindle