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For Your Genealogy Toolbox: Social Searcher

Need a time-saver for chasing distant relatives? Here's a social media tool that making tracking folks down a little quicker!

This week on Webinar Wednesday, Lisa Louise Cooke presented "Tap Into Your Inner Private Eye - 9 Strategies for Finding Living Relatives."  (Catch the free replay while you can!) This webinar discussed the many ways you can track down living people, particularly distant cousins who may have information about your ancestors. Lisa discussed many online tools one of which was called Social Searcher.

According to their website, Social Searcher "allows [people] to search for content in social networks in real-time and provides deep analytics data. Users can search without logging in for publicly posted information on Twitter, Google+, Facebook, Youtube, Instagram, Tumblr, Reddit, Flickr, Dailymotion and Vimeo. Free users can also save their searches and set up email alerts."Social Searcher

In essence this is a time-saver tool. Instead of searching a number of social media sites individually you can use Social Searcher to search all of them at one time.

I gave it a try to see what it could do. In order to protect the privacy of others, I'll use myself as an example.  I started by first typing in my name - Marian Pierre-Louis. To be honest, that didn't work out very well. None of the results returned related to me in any way. You can see in the image below the kind of poor results I got. (Click image to enlarge.)

Social Searcher


However, when I put my name in quotations - "Marian Pierre-Louis" - the results improve greatly. The phrase now appears in the exact phrase box on the left rather than the keywords box.  All of the results related to me. When scrolling down the results you see social media posts that I've shared or interacted with on Google+, YouTube and Twitter.

Social Searcher


Not everyone is going to have as unique a name as I have.  What do you do if distant cousin is named John Smith?  Try searching for the name in quotations plus additional word(s) such as a location, occupation or school.  I tried searching for my name plus the word genealogy. 

This time, instead of typing into the white search box I typed directly into the yellow search parameters boxes on the left side of the screen. I typed genealogy into the keywords box and Marian Pierre-Louis into exact phrase box beneath it.  Then I used the orange search box at the bottom.  The white search box was then updated with genealogy OR "Marian Pierre-Louis." That's not exactly what I was hoping for.

I manually changed the white search box to genealogy AND "Marian Pierre-Louis."  I tried variations on the search terms. Social Search seems to return the best results when you put the most important term first. So changing my search to "Marian Pierre-Louis" AND genealogy  gave better results. You'll have to do some experimenting to get the best results for your searches.

Social searcher


Click on the Advanced options header midway down the screen on the left. This will provide new options such as post types (links, photo, status or video), language and social media sites.

Social Searcher


Social Searcher may take a little experimenting to get your searches right but it is definitely a time saver if you want to search for distant cousins online across multiple social platforms.  Keep in mind that the results only return publicly accessible social media posts and interactions. You'll have to return to more traditional methods if it appears that your distant cousin doesn't have an online presence.

Give Social Searcher a try and have fun!


Marian Pierre-Louis is the Social Media Marketing Manager for Legacy Family Tree. She is also the host of The Genealogy Professional podcast. Check out her webinars in the Legacy library.




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