RootsTech 2022: Millions Participate in Family History Conference

After seeing record attendance in 2021, RootsTech organizers were pleased to announce that “millions” more attended the free, online global family history conference this past weekend.

The number has grown from 130,000 (in person and online) in 2020 to 1.5 million (online) last year. The 2022 audience last week was in the millions, organizers said. A more precise figure will be published later.

And that’s just the beginning as the engagement is expected to continue in the weeks and months to come, said Jen Allen, Director of Events at RootsTech.

“It was our first weekend. ‘Star Wars’ just opened in the theater,” she said. “We still have big plans in the works for the next three weeks and beyond. that those numbers will grow. Right now, we’re pretty confident that millions of people have participated in 227 countries and territories and around the world. When we look at our goal and what the numbers are saying right now, we’re very, very , very happy and excited to see him grow.

The continued growth of the world’s largest family history conference was one of many highlights Allen and others discussed with the Deseret News after the conference, which was held March 3-5.

New goals and strategies for RootsTech 2022

Of course, the organizers wanted to see a large number of RootsTech participants around the world – they aimed to reach “millions” – but they also focused on providing a quality and engaging experience in regions specific to the world.

“I know it might be vague,” Allen said. “Our goal was not to develop the whole, but to see how we can develop Ghana and Argentina, and look at different places in the world and how we could increase participation and engagement in certain areas. Ultimately, it involves people from all over the world and hopefully provides them with a positive and uplifting experience. »

The change in strategy led the organizers to try new things. For example, organizers televised RootsTech in the Philippines and several West African countries.

“What we’re learning is that people are very interested in family content on TV,” Allen said. “We believe this may just be the beginning of some opportunities for FamilySearch and the church.”

Organizers also want to change the mindset that RootsTech is an isolated event, said Paul Nauta, marketing communications manager for FamilySearch.

“It’s a premier event that’s associated with all types of new content that people can use and leverage throughout the year,” he said. “We want website traffic and understanding to be an ongoing source of instruction and inspiration in your efforts to connect with your family, past, present and future, regardless of your goal.”

RootsTech 2022 Highlights

RootsTech’s closing session included live reporting from Dubai, United Arab Emirates, where Allen and other FamilySearch representatives joined the World Expo. The segment included a short interview between FamilySearch CEO Steve Rockwood and His Excellency Sheikh Salem Bin Sultan Bin Saqr Al-Qasimi.

“I would say the biggest highlight and exciting opportunity this year is that we kicked off the whole event live from Dubai to the World Expo,” she said. “Having this live component was stressful on my side of things, but it definitely brought in some intrigue and this opportunity to showcase a certain part of the world. It was just an amazing opportunity… Managing an event across the world is also fun.

Jen Allen, Director of Events at FamilySearch, speaks from Dubai, United Arab Emirates during the closing session of RootsTech 2022 on Saturday, March 5, 2022.

Originally, FamilySearch planned to record a live event from Dubai in January, similar to other keynote addresses filmed there. But this plan has been delayed due to the conditions of COVID-19. Postponing the event actually worked in their favor as it allowed them to hold the event live during the conference. They also filmed a keynote featuring Sheikh Al-Qasimi which will air in the near future, Allen said.

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Another highlight of the conference was the response to the “Choose the “music video” connection. RootsTech manager Jonathan Wing composed the song “Choose Connection” and was instrumental in how it came together.

Many found the message timely, he said, and he read several “heartfelt” messages from people who felt motivated to forgive others, reconnect with family members and perform acts of service after the death. have seen.

“There were so many examples that touched me to hear. You never know the impact your work is going to have on individuals,” Wing said. “But at the end of the day, it’s those people who are really worth it, who reach out and are touched by a message and are touched in a way that motivates them to do something. … It was powerful.

New approach to keynote speakers

RootsTech organizers were pleased with how attendees responded to the keynote presentations. Some were filmed as documentaries and others with a live audience. The key moving forward will be determining which style best matches the main speaker.

“It will really shape our decisions going forward,” Allen said.

Palestinian comedian Maysoon Zayid was one of the keynote speakers whose message resonated with viewers.

“One of the clear winners this year is Maysoon Zayid,” Allen said. “His message was so upbeat and funny. I don’t know if it was because it was so different that we got so many comments about it, but a lot of people really loved his direct message telling teens to put their phones down and listen to the elders. .. listen to your grandparents.

Argentinian singer Diego Torres was another who “really hit the stage” with the public.

Argentinian singer Diego Torres performs during his RootsTech 2022 presentation on Friday, March 4, 2022.

Argentinian singer Diego Torres performs during his RootsTech 2022 presentation on Friday, March 4, 2022.

Allen and Wing both agreed that efforts to bring more energy to the screen are making a difference, though they’ll know more in the weeks and months to come by analyzing more data.

“Anecdotally, we can say yes, we’ve definitely improved in this space,” Wing said. “But I look forward to seeing the data and especially the text feedback to learn from our audience how they reacted to and resonated with the content we posted.”

Will RootsTech start hosting an in-person event again?

The answer is unclear, but RootsTech organizers are discussing future possibilities.

Allen read comments from some attendees who enjoy watching the virtual conference from the comfort of their homes and others who are begging to return to an in-person event.

There’s certainly no turning back from the all-virtual conference for its potential global reach and for those who can’t make it to an in-person event.

“Do we have a large scale in person like we used to? I don’t know,” Allen said. “Honestly, it’s hard to justify that for 30,000 people, but at the same time people are looking for that energy and that physical connection in the same room, so it feels like something we should be providing.

For now, all Allen knows is that RootsTech is scheduled for March 2-4, 2023.

“Let it be fair to or in other places, that is yet to be determined, hopefully sooner rather than later,” she said.

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