There has been a lot of talk about “Genealogy Rock Stars” recently. John D. Reid recently wrote on his blog Anglo-Celtic Connections regarding the results of a poll taken from “676 [polled]in number from the US, Canada, Australia and New Zealand, the UK and Ireland, Mexico, Spain and Sweden voted to select “rock star genealogists, women and men who give ‘must attend’ presentations at genealogy conferences and/or write ‘must read’ family history articles or publications.” …just in case your interested, no – I didn’t vote.
No surprise about numbers 1-3 (Elizabeth Shown Mills, Megan Smolenyak and Dick Eastman respectively). This is brings us to No. 4 – Thomas MacEntee and No. 5 Thomas W. Jones. This battle of the Toms provides a good illustration about the importance of branding and use of social media.
First, let me perfectly clear – I am a HUGE fan of both! I took Dr. Jones class last week at SLIG and have worked on projects with Thomas MacEntee and think they are both tops in my book. This is not a post about who should be a rock star and who shouldn’t be, frankly I think the whole idea slightly silly and being somewhat familiar with both men, I think that while there may be a part of them that might be flattered with the moniker, for the most part I think they both might be a tad uncomfortable with being referred to as a “rock star” – especially in comparison to each other.
My interest in this is from a marketing perspective, as this is a great example of how to create and use your personal brand as a genealogist and how to use social media to your advantage. The compare and contrast here is too delicious to avoid.
|Thomas Jones||Thomas MacEntee|
While Thomas Jones has been around for years and years and has built a solid reputation in the both the academic and genealogical spheres, his influence extends mostly to those who read scholarly journals, attend large national conferences or institutes and are serious or advanced genealogists.
Thomas MacEntee in comparison has only been around for a few short years, but in that limited time he has built a solid reputation online on Facebook, Twitter, BlogTalkRadio and the blogosphere, as well as through his personal contacts, speaking at genealogical societies, and conferences big and small. His audience is not only larger (as it includes the novice to advance genealogists), but Thomas is a pro at cultivating a relationship with his audience and knowing the ins and outs of marketing himself and creating a unique brand.
Recently, I had a conversation with 2 experienced genealogists, who were worried about what little chance they had in the genealogy “business” when there were so many “well-known” qualified genealogists. I think the 2 Toms illustrate perfectly the importance of knowing your brand, capitalizing on what you do best and wielding social media tools like a Gibson…notice the rock reference there? Yea, I’m hip like that!
“Rock Star” status isn’t about credentials or who is the smartest genealogists – its more like American Idol, not who is the best, but who has the most votes due to appeal to the audience. Social Media has the power to win friends and influence people and is worth learning along with your genealogical methodology skills.
If you want to hang your shingle out as a genealogist, take a lesson from the 2 Toms. While they got to where they are via different routes, have different talents and objectives, they both know who they are and what they are trying to achieve. We can also see that you can achieve name recognition and results if you are willing to work at as hard as these two Toms do.
Love to the two Toms, who will always be stars and to all those who are seeking to find their inner Mick Jagger – rock on!