Take Your SIGs Virtual With MeWe

The MeWe social network is focused on protecting the privacy of its members yet it still offers an impressive range of features that today’s genealogical societies can put to good use. One of those features is groups.

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At first look, a MeWe group may look like Facebook, but as you start looking around you will find a number of useful things like a files library, group discussions and events. MeWe uses tags to make it easy to find specific content in the group. A tag is a keyword that begins with a hash mark (#). Assign #tags to your group posts and MeWe collects them for you in the sidebar. Click/tap any #tag and MeWe will redraw your screen showing you every post assigned that #tag. In the example above, the #journaling tag has been selected in the tag box. On the left you see a collection of posts about journaling. It doesn’t take long for a group’s timeline to contain dozens of posts so having a quick way to find all the posts related to a specific topic is a very useful feature.

MeWe offers three types of groups – private, selective and open. A private group only has members who have been invited to join by the group administrator. Private groups do not appear in MeWe’s group directory. This is a perfect choice for society SIGS.

To join a selective group you must first request access then answer several questions on why you want to join. Once the group administrator reviews your answers and approves you, you will have access to that group. Open groups are open to all MeWe members.

MeWe groups also support discussions – chats for a larger group of participants. These can be text, voice or video discussions. The comment box attached to each post supports text and voice comments including the ability to add photos from your photo library, photos taken with your mobile device and even GIFs.

Each member has 8GB of storage for photos, videos and files. More can be purchased for a small monthly fee. To save money, your society can share videos from online sources like YouTube and Vimeo instead of saving them to your group.

It may take a bit of practice to fully take advantage of the Events component but it won’t take long to appreciate its capabilities. Share a video in a post and create an event to show the video then follow it with a Q&A session using Group Chat.

Small societies often find it difficult to schedule a place and time to hold special interest group meetings. By going virtual, you don’t need a physical meeting room and even if a member can’t attend the group meeting, they can visit the group site at any time to catch up. The files library and posts in the timeline also give your members a research resouce they have access to from anywhere at any time.

My Storytellers Studio group is a selective group serving as a resource for family historians and genealogists looking for creative ideas to share the stories our genealogy research discovers. You are welcome to join us.

Google+ Shutting Down

Google has announced it is shutting down Google+ personal accounts on April 2nd. At that time, Google will be deleting customer accounts and their pages. You can download and save your content – including photos – as long as you do it before April 2nd.

Where do you go from there? Check out MeWe.com. This is a social network with soul. It supports timelines, pages, groups and chats (text, voice & video) – all the things you want in a social network – and does it without tracking your every move. MeWe takes privacy very seriously. There are no bots tracking you and your content isn’t being sold to who knows who.StorytellersGroup.png

Here’s an example of a MeWe group as viewed in a web browser. The layout isn’t cluttered with advertisements so there’s room for other useful features. MeWe puts hashtags to good use. All I do is include a hash mark (#) in front of a keyword – see #scanning and #apps in the post shown above – and MeWe will add it to the #Tags panel in the right sidebar. Click any tag in the panel and MeWe will display every post in this group assigned that tag. This way, members have easy access to all content posted within the group even as your timeline grows.

While you have a Chats panel in your timeline that makes it easy to contact friends for a one-on-one chat, the Group Chat panel in a MeWe group operates more like a discussion than a chat. This could be very useful to families as well as genealogical societies. With a bit of experimenting, MeWe groups could be a great way for societies to offer virtual special interest groups.

Each user gets 8GB of storage for files, photos and videos. You can add 50GB of additional storage for $4.99/month. I doubt that many personal accounts would need added storage, but a society probably would – especially if they want to offer multiple SIGs. Even so, $4.99/month is quite reasonable.

MeWe offers three group types – Open, Selective and Private. An open group is a group that anyone can join unless they have been blocked by the group owner. In a selective group, you are first asked to answer a question or two and the group admin decides whether to include you. A private group does not show up in MeWe’s group directory and membership is by invitation only. This is a good option for societies – especially with SIGs.

With the Google+ announcement, a number of businesses are moving to MeWe including WordPress, Dropbox, Amazon and Amazon Prime. I hope we will be seeing a number of genealogical societies, archives and services on MeWe soon.

Want to see a MeWe group in action? Stop by my Storytellers Studio group and say hello.

Why are you still on Facebook?

I moved to MeWe earlier this year and have found it delightful. It has all the whistles and bells you could possibly want but one thing you won’t find is advertising. I found the chat feature quite impressive supporting text, voice and video chats.

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MeWe supports pages and groups too. Not only can you post content, you can also add #tags to your posts and MeWe will build a “tag index” so visitors can find the topics they want quickly and easily. There are tools for managing members, organizing events and even hosting group chats. MeWe’s group features give small genealogical societies an affordable option to create virtual special interest groups for their members.

While most of MeWe’s features are free, there are some features that will cost you. You’ll find the link to the MeWe Store at the top of the screen. There you can purchase a number of emoji sets for a whopping 99¢ each. If you want to build a page to promote your business, society or blog, that will also cost you. Each user gets 8GB of file storage. If you need more, you can get it at a very reasonable cost.

Take a look for yourself. I think you will find MeWe a delightful and safe place to hang out with friends and family. Get started at https://mewe.com/.

Goodbye Facebook

It’s time to say goodbye to Facebook. Here are a few reasons why:

Fortunately there is an impressive alternative to Facebook . . . a social network that respects your privacy while giving you a broad range of useful features. At https://mewe.com you will find all the whistles and bells that make it easy to connect and collaborate with family, friends and a growing number of organizations.

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MeWe user home screen

Here you see my home screen. In addition to my timeline of posts you can see my photostream on the right. These aren’t all my photos. They include photos from the people who have posted to my timeline. On the left, the Chats box lists people I have connected with so I can easily start a conversation with them. In addition to adding comments to a post, MeWe supports text, voice and even video chatting. When viewing MeWe in a web browser on your desktop computer, you may not have the tools (webcam, speakers and mic) to take advantage of these features. No problem! MeWe also has free apps for iOS and Android devices (phones and tablets) so you can chat any which way you want.

When I first created my MeWe account, I was wandering around the site when all the sudden I heard my cousin’s voice talking to me. Whoa! Next thing I knew she had turned on her camera and we were enjoying a video conversation. If you think Facetime is easy, you haven’t seen MeWe at work.

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Sample MeWe group screen

MeWe supports groups, pages and even events. Groups are quite impressive. A group can be open – anyone can join, selective – must be approved by the owner or administrator, or private – by invitation only. Group settings include things like group description, membership permissions, notifications, preferences and group chats.

MeWe supports hashtags for organizing content. You can see the tag list in the right column of the group screen above. Use the hash mark (#) before a word in the content of a post and MeWe will add that hashtag to your #Tags box in the sidebar. Group members just tap a hashtag in the #Tags box and all posts with that tag will be displayed in their timeline. Each group offers features for saving photos, videos and files within the group. It also supports online events. These features are a dream-come-true for genealogical societies and other associations wanting to provide online activities. Using the group chat feature, societies can provide one-on-one support or take advantage of these features for online-only special interest groups.

By now I’m sure you are wondering how MeWe can afford to make all this available to us at no cost. Well, it’s not totally free. In the top right corner of the screen above you will find the MeWe Store. Here you can purchase emoji packages for a whopping $.99 per package. There’s also a Secret Chat feature available for mobile devices providing secure, encrypted chats with other MeWe users. Every member gets 8GB of file storage for free. If you need more space, it can be purchased through the MeWe Store. If you want to create a page to promote your business, society or whatever, it will cost you $2.99/month.

It may have a funny name, but it won’t take long before you realize what an amazing service MeWe.com offers its users. Once you create your account, stop by and say hi at https://mewe.com/p/moultriecreekgazette.  See you soon!

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The Moultrie Creek Gazette page at MeWe.com

Make the Move to MeWe

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MeWe is a relatively new social network and the first one built with privacy by design for its members. The MeWe network has no advertising and no tracking. It is free for members with features that includes text, voice and video messaging and even encrypted chats. MeWe supports both private and open groups. While the network basics are open to all members at no cost, there are optional features that do require payment. For example, all members have 8GB of storage for photos, videos and files at no charge. If you want more space, you can add it for a small monthly fee. Other “premium” features include encrypted chat and an emoji store.

You can access MeWe in your web browser at https://mewe.com. The view above shows the home page for a MeWe member. From the home page, you can participate in online chats, groups and events. There is also a page called MyCloud displaying all the photos, videos, files and posts you share in your account. Not only can you post photos, you can create albums to keep them organized.

MeWe supports mobile devices too. Check your app store for the free MeWe apps – for both phones and tablets. If you connect your address book to MeWe, the app will tell you if any of your contacts are also MeWe members, making it easier to find family and friends. Within an hour of installing the app on my iPhone and connecting my address book, my cousin – and fellow genealogist – sent me a contact request. Within seconds of accepting her request, she was calling me for a video chat via MeWe.

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It’s not just timelines and chats either. MeWe supports groups and events too. Groups can be Private, Selective or Open. As you see here, the Storytellers Studio group has been moved from Facebook to MeWe.

Notice the group chat box to the lower right of the screenshot. While you can chat from just about anywhere in MeWe, the Group Chat is set up just for members of the group. Using Group Chat, you can schedule chats on specific topics and even invite speakers to join the chat. Photos and files can be posted in a chat  . . . (Do I see the possibility of a presentation here?) . . . and it also supports voice chats . . . (Even better!)

MeWe is just the thing the genealogy community needs – a protected place for networking, sharing resources, discussions and more. Take a look at WeMe (https://weme.com) and see if you don’t find it delightful alternative to Facebook.