RootsTech Attracts Over 1 Million Participants Opening Week
RootsTech Connect 2021 attracted more than 1 million participants from 242 countries and territories at its completely virtual, online debut. RootsTech is a hybrid, global online event and website that celebrates fun, personal, and family discoveries by fostering new connections, the latest learning, and innovative technologies. Although the “event” portion of the experience ran 25–27 February 2021, anyone can continue to create custom watch lists from the 2,000 free, on-demand videos at RootsTech.org.
“The 3-day RootsTech Connect 2021 virtual event was literally just a ribbon-cutting of a totally new way for people to connect with others and to learn globally,” remarked Steve Rockwood, FamilySearch CEO. Nonprofit FamilySearch International hosts the popular online site and event. Rockwood said they have learned from past conferences held in-person in Salt Lake City and London with complementary online components. “Online learning is now core instead of ancillary. And the big difference is it’s not just 3 days but 365 days. We want to continue to globalize and localize learning and discoveries.”
The RootsTech Team learned right away in Fall 2020 when it announced plans to create a free, all-virtual global event that if they build it, the crowds would come. The question Rockwood admitted was, “If we build it, how MANY will come, and will we be able to accommodate them?” They decided it was best to build a bigger boat. In technology terms, that meant a web experience delivered in 11 languages that could accommodate 500,000 concurrent users.
The million-participant milestone for the opening weekend was a very pleasant surprise. Rockwood expressed gratitude for the gifted engineers, dedicated staff, volunteers, and partner support that contributed to successfully pulling off the new web model in such a short time frame.
Research specialists from around the world, online communities, developers of innovative products and services, and even archivists came together to learn, answer questions, share best practices, and offer tips and suggestions. The impact will be far reaching now and over time.
A key learning was that attendees were as intensely interested in connecting with their living relatives as they were in discovering their ancestors. A social media campaign that enabled participants to connect with relatives worldwide went immediately viral. Rockwood said it proved how interested people are in connecting and belonging all across the world, from culture to culture.
Even more important than the record attendance, RootsTech has now moved beyond a 3-day event. Rockwood explained that the opening weekend of the event ushered in a totally new way for people to connect globally and learn through hyper-localized content in local languages, all year long.
“It [RootsTech Connect] is a kick starter for a very great YouTube presence. If you want to fix your car or do a plumbing repair, you go to YouTube for help,” continued Rockwood. “RootsTech Connect will continue to grow as a source of thousands of user-generated videos where people can find help and get answers to their localized, family history-related discovery questions.”
Jennifer Allen, manager of the RootsTech effort, said many participants are warming up to the reality that all of the content is now freely available on-demand; that they can continue to enjoy the content all year long—even if they missed the annual event. “This was just the ‘opening weekend.’ They can continue to build their playlist and watch and share content whenever they want. It’s a new norm.”
Missed the RootsTech Connect 2021 virtual event? Don’t worry. View over 2,000 on-demand videos for free all year long at RootsTech.org.
QUICK ROOTSTECH CONNECT 2021 LINKS
RootsTech, hosted by FamilySearch, is a global conference celebrating families across generations, where people of all ages are inspired to discover and share their memories and connections. This annual event has become the largest of its kind in the world, attracting tens of thousands of participants worldwide.