FamilySearch Community Support

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Working as a volunteer (Community Champion) or Missionary (Group Manager) with online communities is fantastic. There are few other mediums where a person can influence and help thousands of people at once. This wiki page will give you a brief overview of the type of work the community support team is involved in and we hope that you will be interested in working with us. Request to become a FamilySearch Community Champion

Community Definition
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To understand what we do, you must first understand what a community is and a few key terms.

  • Online Community: People interacting with one another in the same online environment.
  • Community Platform: The tool, or environment, where the collaboration/ interaction takes place.
  • Facebook Group: a collaborative environment inside Facebook, similar to a Facebook Page but with features and functionality more geared toward community collaboration.

Currently, the primary platform or environment for community interaction that we use is Facebook and Yammer. At this time, FamilySearch oversees over ten regional research groups inside of Facebook where we work with the community to help support patrons seeking research help. By engaging the community inside of Facebook, over the course of this past year, we have surpassed the amount of research support we were offering patrons through phones, chat, and email combined.

For a complete list of our Facebook groups visit the FamilySearch wiki page: “Genealogy Help on Facebook”.

About the Community Support Team
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Our team was formed from the Research Support Group, whose primary purpose was to answer patron’s research questions through phone calls, email, and chat. Since that time, the department felt that FamilySearch had the opportunity to provide better research support by involving experts and community members from across the world in helping patrons find ancestors and so the community support team was formed. We moved away from phones and chat to begin offering community research support (currently through Facebook).

The shift in focus sounds minor but is quite significant. Rather than just, “effectively answering research questions.”, the Community Support Team’s role now is to:

“'Foster and develop an environment where research questions are answered effectively and research knowledge is both gathered and shared.”

We do this through focusing in 4 separate areas:

1. Creating an atmosphere where individuals feel welcome and excited to share & contribute.
2. Keeping track of each individual’s needs and interests to offer proactive research support.
3. Making sure people receive high quality support and direction from the other community members.
4. Gathering and capturing research resources to offer future support.

Each team oversees a number regional groups or country pages managed by three missionaries (“Group Managers”), some volunteers ("Community Champions"), with one Group Manager acting as the Team Lead.

Community Support Activities
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Here are some different day-to-day activities we get involved in as community support. These activities can be divided into two basic categories: Community Engagement and Content Management.

Community Engagement Activities

Content Management
Answer Questions & Watch Quality Assurance
Capture Member Interests & Activity
Capture research content from each FB group news feed and post in the Facebook notes page and Yammer for the wiki missionaries
Send Public & Private Welcomes
Recognize/ Thank helpful answers or good questions
Post challenges to the community like “Wiki Wednesdays” or other posts to encourage community participation in
Moderation (delete negative, hostile, inappropriate posts)
Encourage people to post their surnames to the surname list
Research Wiki Research Questions on Yammer
Contact/ Interact with Less Actives
Find additional ways to involve others

Communication Tools
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Yammer: The majority of our team communication throughout the week is done inside of an internal social networking tool called Yammer. The network is made up of a series of “groups” or online spaces, where different teams and individuals can collaborate. There are two primary groups community champions are involved in:

  1. FB Research Content Group: This group is where our team collaborates with the wiki missionaries and shares information we have gathered from Facebook and our other research.
  2. A Regional Research Group: The community support team is broken down into smaller teams assigned to specific regions. The smaller teams are led by one, or multiple, group managers who oversee the community activities in those regions, with the help of Community Champions. Each regional team communicates inside a specific Yammer group to coordinate and communicate throughout the week. A group manager will invite you into that particular group as they orient you.

WebEx: All of our meetings are held inside of a webinar tool called WebEx that allows you to both call into a meeting, view from your computer screen, and watch previously recorded meetings. You will often receive email notifications for meetings.

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Every other week, Community Champions have a team meeting where they discuss with their team leader, the other group managers, and volunteers involved in that region. During these meetings they primarily discuss and review what is working, what is not working, what can be improved, and how they can move forward with their groups/ pages.

Community Champion Expectations
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The potential tasks and assignments a community support team member could be involved with were mentioned previously, however, it is not expected that they be involved in all of them. When a volunteer first agrees to be a Community Champion the team lead will sit down with them to discuss their interests, availability and needs of the group and together they will come up with the roles and assignments they will participate in. The few General requirements are to:

  • Join and participate inside the relevant community support Yammer groups.
  • Attend (whenever possible) the bi-weekly meetings or meet separately with you group managers.
  • Perform the tasks you agree to help with in the community.

Become a Community Champion or Community Support Missionary[edit | edit source]

We are always looking for new volunteers to become "Community Champions" as well as Community Support Missionaries to help us grow and interact with our FamilySearch communities! Sign up to join our team by filling out this form: