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The Power of Engagement: Why Historical and Genealogical Societies Need More Than Just Followers


A keyboard with a followers button.

In the digital age, almost every organization, including historical and genealogical societies, seeks to amplify their online presence. For many, this equates to amassing a large following on social media platforms. But there's a common misconception: that a high number of followers equates to success. This couldn't be further from the truth. While having a large number of followers is certainly impressive, what truly matters is engagement. Let's delve into why engagement is the secret weapon that can transform followers into active society members.


Engagement: The Bridge to Active Membership

Having thousands of followers is like having thousands of people walk past a shop window. They might glance at the display, but unless something catches their eye and entices them to enter, they'll keep walking. Engagement acts as that allure. When historical and genealogical societies actively engage with their audience, they're inviting them inside to explore, learn, and eventually become a part of the community.


Harness the Power of Individual Voices

Even without admin rights, every board and committee member can be an ambassador for the society. Engaging as oneself rather than the faceless entity of the society can create more authentic and meaningful connections. Followers get to see and know the people behind the organization, fostering trust and camaraderie.


Imagine this: If six board and committee members dedicate just 10 minutes each week to actively engage with comments on the society's social media pages, that totals an hour of genuine engagement every week. This strategy could lead to greater trust, better feedback, and a tighter-knit online community.


Making Engagement a Collective Effort

Social media managers play a pivotal role in shaping and implementing a robust engagement strategy. They bring expertise, consistency, and a knack for knowing what works. Yet, the true magic happens when engagement becomes a group effort. When everyone from the board, committee, and even general members actively participate, it amplifies the society's voice and reach.

For societies looking to enhance their online engagement, consider the following steps:


  1. Set Clear Engagement Guidelines: If multiple people are engaging on behalf of the society, ensure there are clear guidelines about the society's voice, values, and boundaries.

  2. Make Engagement a Regular Agenda: At board meetings, discuss the importance of online engagement. Encourage members to participate regularly, even if it's just for a few minutes every week.

  3. Celebrate Engagement Success: Recognize and celebrate members who actively engage and contribute to the online community's growth.


In conclusion, while a vast following on social media can be a great ego boost, it's the quality of the relationship with those followers that truly matters. Engagement is the heart and soul of online community building. For historical and genealogical societies, it's the pathway to transforming passive followers into passionate members. So, the next time you're evaluating your online success, look beyond the follower count and focus on the conversations, connections, and community you're building.

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