I've experimented with a variety of online calendars and social media sites to promote California Genealogical Society events with varying success. The newest trend in social networking is "checking in" with GPS-enabled smart phones and applications such as Foursquare, Yelp, and Facebook Places. So, yes, I've created CGSL pages on all of the above – just in case.
One benefit – besides the free publicity – is the periodic emailed statistics report on the activity on the sites. Imagine my surprise when I got this month's breakdown of the page views on Yelp:
The bar graph shows 767 page views in October! The CGSL business page on Yelp was viewed an average of 25 times a day during Family History Month. I really can't explain the numbers except that we did do a lot of promoting of our classes and workshops.
Our First Free Saturday Intro to Genealogy class has been a fixture on Yelp since July 2007 and it does seem to be translating to increased attendance at the classes, especially among younger genealogists. It's not just beginners either. We're noticing experienced researchers who are taking advantage of the free day and are coming in to check us out. I'm proud to report that our volunteer teachers are great at making everyone feel welcome. They are taking the time to learn the experience level of their students so they can tailor the material and make sure everyone learns something.
Yelp.com markets itself "Real people, real reviews." It's primarily a place for ordinary people to write about their experiences at restaurants and the businesses they frequent. So far we only have two reviews but they're both 5 stars and one reviewer has since become an active member.
Mary Beth Frederick taught the first Saturday in October class and she sent this feedback from one of her Yelping students:
You mentioned that I might be a bit advanced for the class, but I wanted to assure you that it was one of the best things that I have done. Not only did I learn some interesting information, but I made use of the links provided by you in the workshop. After posting pictures on deadfred.com I was contacted within 72 hours by a distant cousin!
I know that I could have found the links another way, but I might not have used them because I wouldn't have trusted them. But I felt that the ones that were provided had most likely been tested and I would have a better chance of not going to a bogus website.
After several conversations with my cousin, I have been able to get the names on pictures that my grandfather left me and start making more connections. Thanks again!
So if you haven't checked it out yet, take a look at Yelp.com and see what "genealogy" venues and reviews have been posted in your neighborhood.
Copyright © 2010 by Kathryn M. Doyle, California Genealogical Society and Library