FamilySearch live videos unite people virtually


Wendy Smedley, a marketing manager at FamilySearch, decided that she wanted to do something to help people to find a sense of connection. That’s why she proposed the idea for FamilySearch to start doing live videos.

“As a brand, I think we should take the opportunity to sit with people in their homes, from our own homes, and share tips and ideas,” Smedley said.

Smedley said that after proposing the idea, she was shocked at how quickly it was approved, because “at the Church doing anything live is really out of the norm,” she said.

The live events started on March 24 and have been going for a little over a month. Smedley said the response has been amazing, with the Instagram videos averaging about 300 live viewers each week and the Facebook videos averaging between 700 and 800. Viewers have tuned in from over 46 different countries, according to Smedley, who said she sometimes asks people to comment where they’re tuning in from during the live events.

Screenshot from Wendy Smedley’s interiew with Ryon Bazzle, in which he talked about some new features of the FamilySearch app. (Wendy Smedley)

The events usually consist of Smedley interviewing someone with knowledge about a specific part of family history. Ryon Bazzle, who helps design the FamilySearch app, was featured in one of the events and said Smedley did a great job of making him feel comfortable during the interview.

“We tried to keep it fun and casual. I mean, it’s no secret that everybody is doing this from their house. We’re not dressed up. I’m not in an office. So we just kept it honest and genuine,” Bazzle said.

He said Smedley is the perfect person to do the live streams because she’s so easy to talk to and outgoing.

Stacy Julian, who was also interviewed in a live event, agreed. Smedley and Julian have known each other for many years and Julian said Smedley did a great job of guiding her through her live interview.

Julian runs a blog about scrapbooking and family history. In her live event with FamilySearch, she took viewers on a virtual tour of her house to show the different ways she displays her family’s stories.

Screenshot from Wendy Smedley’s interview with Stacy Julian, who took viewers on a virtual tour of her home. (Emily Andersen)

“It was just fun. It was fast-paced and kind of exciting, kind of nerve-wracking, but mostly fun, because you could share something with someone,” Julian said.

The events are still taking place every Tuesday and Thursday on Instagram and every Wednesday on Facebook. FamilySearch has also been experimenting with different ideas for the events, including a Spanish live event that took place on April 30 and a youth night on May 6.

“We don’t know what the future of this will be, but we know that we’re continuing while people are quarantined,” Smedley said, “Our senior staff is super supportive of it, and as long as there’s people watching they feel like this is worthwhile.”

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