Facebook vs Blogging: The Pros and Cons

Facebook vs Blogging: The Pros and Cons

Over the past couple of weeks I’ve seen a few geneabloggers writing about the topic of “is genealogy blogging dying” (see the links at the end), which are suggesting that there are far less active genealogy blogs and/or bloggers, now than there were a few years ago, and that people are turning to social media (namely Facebook) instead. They may well be, but I’m not going into that.

Personally I can see that there is a case for both, but it purely depends on what the reason behind you doing it is. So I thought I’d just run through a few of the key features of both a blog and Facebook for you, to highlight the differences.

FACEBOOK

Let me start of by saying that there are different types of Facebook accounts. There is your own personal account, there are pages, and there are groups, and all of them have a different purpose.

The Pros
– it’s free
– the amount of people there … Facebook states that they have over one billion active Facebook users
– you can have a private group on Facebook (so you can have your own non-public family group, so you can get your cousins, aunts, uncles, nephews and nieces together on Facebook to chat and share family memories and/or photos)
– you can have a group for Descendants of … to keep in touch with the wider family

The Cons
– not everyone is (or wants to be) on Facebook
– it’s not indexed by Google
– a photo or story that is put up, is essentially seen once, then lost in the feed
– not everything shows up in Facebook, so many posts simply don’t get seen

BLOGGING

Please note some blogs cost money to set up, and others are free. For this purpose I’m simply referring to the free blogs like WordPress.com and Blogger.

The Pros
– it’s free (unless you get the paid version).
– cousin-bait. Everything written on your blog is indexed by Google, Internet Archive, the NLA’s Pandora site and other search engines. So if you write about your missing ancestor from Somerset in 1823 (or wherever) … someone could well Google that person’s name, and up comes your blog post! Ta da … you have a new cousin. And hopefully you have easy-to-find contact details on your blog, and they will get in touch. It happens.
– share the family stories, as then they are being preserved, and not just a memory in your head.
– finding and sharing the stories will get the wider family interested, which is a good thing.
– sharing your research journey (both your finds and frustrations), helps educate others.

The Cons
– you need to learn “how” to set up a blog and get started, which is where a number of people get stuck. Google and YouTube a great for this, and can give you step-by-step instructions.
– time to write can be a factor
– some people don’t want to write something until they feel it’s 100% right, which is admirable, but obviously takes time. My comment is just put up what you have, with qualifications saying it’s a work in progress.
– people are likely to copy/steal your info and photos without contacting you, or reference back to you. Sadly it happens. Too often no attribution is given.
– lack of inspiration on what to write about. Personally I don’t have this problem, but my blog genre although it is genealogy-related, is wide ranging. But others have chosen to blog about a very narrow topic, be it a family or a place, a person, a military battalion, a voyage, someone’s diary and so on. Thomas MacEntee of GeneaBloggers has a list of daily blog prompts which you can use if you need something to give your blog a boost.

————–

I run both blogs and Facebook pages, and am a member of many Facebook groups. My blogs work fine for me, in that I use them to record my family stories and get them out there, but one of my Facebook pages, which is about the history of a small town, I’m still not convinced is the best place for it. For discussion it is good, but for longevity, I’m not sure that’s where I want to put all my effort in – simply because you see it on Facebook, then it’s gone, and not easily findable again.

So in my opinion a website, or even better, a wiki would serve this purpose better. But that will take time, so we’ll see what eventuates.

So as you can see both are useful. But if it’s longevity that you’re after for your history and stories, you can’t beat a blog. But for interaction, a Facebook group or page can work well. And there’s no reason why you can’t do both.

————-

RELATED ARTICLES

Julie Cahill Tarr started the whole conversation by asking “What happened to genealogy blogging?”, so have a read of her post, as well as those following, who have responded with their take on it.

Julie Cahill Tarr – What Happened to Genealogy Blogging?
James Tanner – Are We Nearing the End of Genealogy Blogging?
Thomas MacEntee – Major Changes at GeneaBloggers.com
Amy Johnson Crow – Is Genealogy Blogging Dead?

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21 Responses to “Facebook vs Blogging: The Pros and Cons”

  1. Well said, Alona. I do think that some people have problems setting up or get negative comments and this causes them to stop blogging.

    • Alona says:

      Yes I’m sure you’re right about that Lilian, probably on both points. Blogging is a continual learning curve.

  2. Jenny says:

    I agree with what you’ve said regarding Facebook. Hashtags are the latest, but unless you know what hashtags have been used, it still isn’t easy to find things. Wheras with a blog and a little learning, you can set up menues, categories and tagging, plus use the search field to find things on a blog or a search engine.
    I’m using my blog to write up a history of not only my family research, but also memories of my life. That way, generations to come can find the info by doing a Google search or whatever they use.
    Coming up with subjects helps by following a few different bloggers who give subject prompts. I use one that you shared at the beginning of the year, but don’t keep strictly to it. That’s the best bit, some prompts lead to another thought that I blog about instead.
    Not everyone has to read it, however it will always be there. As for cousin bait, it’s been the best thing alongside DNA.
    Thanks for your blog.

    • Alona says:

      They certainly both have their place, but as you have said here, a blog is more permanent so is is the better place to record the stories and memories. And I agree with you too about the menus and categories … trying to find anything on Facebook after a day is hard. And even on my blog I rearrange categories fro time to time, to rework them better. But at least I can! And yes, it’s the perfect place for cousin bait!

  3. Pauleen says:

    A good post Alona. Luckily in Australia we often find our blogs archived for posterity. I like FB personal pages and also geneagroups or other specialist groups, but blogging lets you tell a story. I may be haphazard about my posts these days but blogging has a different scope. Depends what you’re after.

  4. Jill Ball says:

    Good points Alona.

    I was confused by your title “Facebook vs Blogging” as I got the impression that you would be saying one is better than the other. As I find your blog hard to read on my phone I’ve had to wait several hours to read it on a computer.

    You are right – it’s horses for courses and we need to examine our purpose and find the best tool to serve that purpose. I think a blog, website or wiki would be a more appropriate platform for your small town.

    I think that Blogging, Facebook and other social media are complementary tools that should all be part of the genie’s toolbox.

    • Alona says:

      Sorry about the confusing title there Jill, and for it being too small to read on your phone. But I appreciate the feedback as always, and as I said, and others who’ve commented including yourself, each are useful, but it depends on what you’re wanting to do. And I have figured that my local history FB page would be better as a website or wiki primarily, with the FB to complement it. But it’s just time educate myself and get it set up … but I will. 🙂

  5. Interesting post. I’m a member of many facebook groups but for my own writing, I prefer my blog because as I learn more I update past posts. Writing even for an audience of one helps me to clarify my thoughts. Thanks for sharing.

    • Alona says:

      Writing a full blog post as a FB post just wouldn’t work well at all, and as for finding and updating them later – uggh, you’d have no chance. So I like your idea of doing a post, and updating it with more info as you find more. And I have to agree, there’s something about putting it in writing that helps isn’t there.

  6. A very useful contribution to the discussion, Alona. I don’t regard myself as IT savvy, but I managed to set up a blog for my family history and for my local history group. Blogging suits my style of writing, in recording my own family history, including my own childhood memories. I never thought I would last this long (nearly 6 years) but have gained inspiration from blog prompts, other bloggers, plus two third cousins who discovered my blog, supplied me with stories and photos and have been happy for me to write these up in posts – a great boost to my blogging activity. I have never bothered much with Facebook but pundits seemed to say I was missing out so I now put my posts onto my family history page. I think it has boosted my page views but is very much “here today, gone tomorrow”, and have not generated many comments on my FB site. I have joined some Facebook genealogy groups and am learning a lot from their queries and discussions. For me there is no competition. – I would never forgo my blog in favour of Facebook.

  7. Helen Smith says:

    A great post. I think Nat blogs and Facebook can be run in conjunction and this is what I would do for your local history blog. Facebook can excite the conversation and then the memories can be expanded on the blog, and on Instagram so working them all in conjunction.

  8. Fran says:

    Alona, As you noted each have advantages and disadvantages. For me Facebook is very short term. Material comes and goes. It’s nearly a live conversation that I cannot be listening to all the time. It’s other weakness is that it is someone elses platform so you have little control on what happens. Blogging does have more permanency, posts can be longer and in more depth and there’s Google indexing. This does not mean you should avoid Facebook as it is a popular communications channel. There is a place for both and not one or the other. Fran

  9. Jana Last says:

    Alona,

    I want to let you know that your blog post is listed in today’s Genealogy Fab Finds post at http://janasgenealogyandfamilyhistory.blogspot.com/2017/05/janas-genealogy-fab-finds-for-may-12.html

    Have a great weekend!

  10. Great summary of the advantages and disadvantages of each! I think it’s important that people realize these when they start either one. I think that can help with the frustration we all feel when we’re publishing on either platform.

  11. Moya Sharp says:

    Hi Alona, Can I just say I love you web sites. I have only come across your pages today for the first time and I have already subscribed. I have been running my blog for just over four years now and agree with you that on the whole a blog is a much better option that a Facebook page. Mine is on stories of the people and the places of the Eastern Goldfields of WA. I also have a web site which I suppose is the info repository. I would love to combine the two but havent had the courage to tackle this yet. Would love to know what you think of my blog if you have time to have a look. Blog – http://www.outbackfamilyhistoryblog.com Website:- http://www.outbackfamilyhistory.com.au

    • Alona says:

      Hi Moya, I am aware of your Outback History sites, and am totally in awe of what you have created through both your website and blog. You have created such a legacy for those who were there. I would LOVE to have some family from that area, alas I haven’t found any from there yet, but you never know. Having your blog and website separate isn’t such a bad thing, as long as you have links to each from each, which I see you have. Keep up the awesome work Moya, and keep on blogging.

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