Adventures in FaceBook advertising

FaceBookI serve on the Council of the Society of Australian Genealogists and one of the issues we are facing, as do all similar societies, is how to attract new members in the digital age.

I created a page on FaceBook a few months ago for the Society which you can see here. I created a group first, not realising that a page would be better. As of last night the group had 76 members and the page had 40 fans.

Not going to save the Society that way, am I!

Last night I bit the bullet and experimented with ads for the Society page. I have targeted it at people in Australia of any age and any gender, resulting in a target of about 200,000 people. I used the keywords “genealogy”, “family history”, and “research”. I left the default amount for cost per click and changed the maximum per day to $5, down from $25.

The results are encouraging, but it is an expensive way to advertise for a NFP (Not For Profit) to sustain, especially if the costs are being borne, as currently, by a volunteer, ie, me. I can afford $5 per day for a couple of days, but not as an ongoing campaign, and neither can the Society.

Here are the results so far:

Results of SAG ad campaign as at 10:20am
Results of SAG ad campaign as at 10:20am

In the 14 hours since the campaign started we have increased the number of fans by two as the result of 10 clicks on the ad (if I am reading the results correctly) for a cost of USD3.91.

Of course, new fans of the FaceBook page doesn’t translate to new members of the Society, and it is just as likely that the two new fans are current members of the Society who hadn’t known we had a presence in FaceBook.

I will leave it running a bit longer, and then I will change the parameters to target older people, who are statistically more likely to be interested in family history. Of course, I have a weekend coming up tonight which may change the results.

Stay tuned!

The Riley name

My name is Carole Gillian Riley. My father’s surname is also Riley, as is that of my five brothers and sisters. My Dad’s father was William (Bill) Riley, and his father was David Riley. David’s father was Mathew Riley. All of these Riley’s from Mathew down to my Dad’s generation were born in Fiji. It is Mathew’s father that is the tricky one.

The family story is that his name was George. What follows is an amalgam of the family stories that I have heard, mostly from my Dad.

He was probably Irish, and he came to Fiji from Australia. He was a Catholic lay preacher. He married a chief’s daughter of Verata, and had some land near the coast, some of which was given to the Catholic Church to build a mission. He was also given the island of Naigani and the couple lived there. Later, the family gave all but a few acres back to the Naigani people.

I have been to Naigani. The house where my great-grandfather lived is now the main bar and restaurant of a tourist resort. There is what looks like a garden bed out the front of the house that I was told is the grave of Mathew Riley.

Unfortunately the documentary evidence is fairly thin. Civil registration in Fiji began in 1874, although there are few registrations until a few years later. I have copies of the death registrations of William and David that state their parents’ names and I believe these to be reliable. David is stated as being the son of Mathew Riley and Maria Andrews.

So far the only other evidence I have of Mathew’s existence is a Land Claim Commission Report from the National Archives of Fiji (LCC 578) that states that his father was first given the land. His father is referred to as Na Bete Riley. Na Bete means ‘the teacher’ according to my Fijian-English dictionary. It also states that Mathew died in 1876, between the first and second reports on the land claim.

The given name of this first Riley is still a mystery, as is his place of origin. He may have been Irish, he may have been Catholic, he may have been an escaped convict from the Colony of New South Wales.

Here is a brief time line of the Rileys in Fiji that I can substantiate:

1860 David Riley born to Mathew Riley and Maria Andrews on Wakaya Island

1876 Mathew Riley died, buried on Naigani

1897 William Riley born on Naigani

1937 David Riley died in Levuka, buried at Naigani

1954 William Riley died in Suva.

It’s not much, is it? I’ll be working on this line and hope to be able to report some progress soon!