Some people eat, sleep and chew gum, I do genealogy and write...

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Statistics support substantial shift in online usage

For the past year, I have observed a decided shift away from some of the traditional online outlets, such as blogs and blog postings, and a movement towards social media. The statics come from the Pew Research Center in a report dated 19 August 2015, entitled, "Mobile Messaging and Social Media 2015." This report chronicles a dramatic increase in the usage of Pinterest and Instagram, in fact usage of both of these websites has doubled since 2012. This exactly confirms my personal observations. In addition, the percentage of Instagram, Pinterest and LinkedIn users has increased significantly since 2014.

There is only so much time in a day. If there is a dramatic shift in online use, then there must be a decrease in other areas, even if the total number of users has also increased. The Pew Research Center report notes that growth in the usage of Facebook has largely plateaued. The study reports that 85% of the adults in the United States are now Internet users and 67% are smartphone users. Here are three conclusions from the report:
I've been recently commenting on my observations concerning the decrease in blogging activity among genealogists.  Although there are some prominent exceptions, the day-to-day blogging activity among the less active bloggers has decreased dramatically. In my own family, my children and their spouses have a total of approximately 30 blogs. I have noticed a marked decrease in activity in the blogs and an increase, I might say a dramatic increase, in Instagram activity. Although one day's activity in the genealogical blogging community cannot be argued to be indicative of the entire community, the activity on any given day is illustrative of the overall trend.

Today, for example, in my blog reader,, I have 53 posts listed. Upon examining those posts, I find 26 to be newsfeeds from CNET. After reviewing those posts, that leaves me with only 27 new feeds.  I say only 27 new feeds because normally I would see well over 100 every day. If I fail to review the feeds for more than a day, I will easily have over 200 feeds. Of the remaining 27 feeds, 10 of those feeds were from non-genealogy blogs.

Looking at the 17 remaining blogs posts, every single post is from either an established genealogy company or one of the diehard, well-known, genealogy bloggers.

I am very unlikely to move my emphasis from writing a blog to using one of the popular social media outlets such as Facebook or Instagram. Neither of these venues is particularly suited to discourse. As I recently pointed out, my emphasis has shifted from doing presentations in conferences around the country to producing videos from classes at the Brigham Young University Family History Library. I find that the audience for the videos is much greater than any possible contact I could have at a conference. I'm not ruling out speaking at conferences, I am merely changing my emphasis. If I were to find that my blog posts were remaining unread or if I found that another venue was more productive, I would change immediately. I see blogs as carrying on a conversation with the world whereas I see social media is much more limited. With few exceptions, Facebook and the other social media outlets are from my perspective, extremely trivial.

 Since I see blogs as more substantive than other social media outlets, I would suggest that if you are caught up in the triviality of Facebook et al. that you might want to come back to blogging.


  1. Time is precious…use it wisely! I am “thinning" the number of blogs, podcasts, newsletters, and social media sites I spend time with. Too much of a good thing…isn't good at all!

  2. While I do link to my blog posts on Facebook, I find blogging to be a much better medium for explaining my thought process and leaving a searchable log of my research--for both myself and others. I've been contacted by distant relatives who found my blog, some of whom were able to share family photos and information that I'd never had gotten otherwise.