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!

Be a good ancestor

In my previous post I mentioned the concept of the “good ancestor” and I think it deserves a bit more explanation.

When I first saw the term I was thinking, as a genealogist, about all the things we wish our ancestors had done, for example:

  • saved all the documents – birth, marriage and death certificates, baptismal certificates, electricity bills…
  • taken lots of photographs of family members and saved them all and labelled each person in them with the date and place in a non-damaging way
  • written a diary or journal and kept them all
  • writtten down the stories their grandparents told them

But that’s not what it means. It’s a more general, community type of saving. It’s being wise with the resources we all have and making sure we use them in a sustainable way so that they are still around for our children’s children. It’s being mindful of how our descendants will talk about the previous generations in the future. Watch the videos on Good Ancestor Workshops for more information.

Looking around us now I would say that our descendants will have cause to curse us. Global warming, financial crises caused by greed, reliance on fossil fuels… There is a long list of things that are wrong with the world today that we blame our ancestors for, and our descendants will blame us for.

There are many ways to be a good ancestor. We can start at home by using less power. Turn off the lights. Switch off the elctrical appliances. Use less hot water. Drive less. Pump up the tyres. Recycle. Buy products with less packaging. Take fewer plane trips. Adjust the thermostat. Plant trees.

The recent Earth Hour shows that people are interested in changing the way we use our resources, although I think it will take something more to make us change our day-to-day habits. People who were careful to turn the lights off at the appropriate time on the Saturday night were leaving them on when they left the room the next evening, at least in my household. 

I don’t have the answers, I’m just posing the questions.


An Inconvenient Truth. Website.

Earth Hour. Website.

Tom Munnecke’s Eclectica. Website.

Building communities in times of economic crisis

I’ve been reading about how people are coping with the Great Recession. Here in Australia things are not as bad – so far the fear is worse than the reality. In the United States and other countries things are much worse – house values have dropped by 30% in some areas, banks are foreclosing, unemployment is rising and shop shelves are empty.

My friend Erin, who lives in Florida, told me about her optometrist who is only working two days per week because people are putting off getting their eyes checked. At the time that she told me this a couple of months ago this seemed outrageous to me, a wearer of spectacles since I was 10, but it makes sense. You put off going to the optometrist, the dentist, the doctor, the pharmacy, if you have to pay for it yourself and you can’t.

What can we do in such times as these? When the government can’t (or doesn’t) help us we have to help ourselves, and each other. Here are some ideas for how we can do that. I was reading messages from a mailing list on Positive Psychology recently and was led to a blog written by Tom Munnecke, who lives near San Diego in California. I’d read it before, and I am now even more struck by how relevant it is, and how useful it could be.

Some of the suggestions are:

Create a neighborhood bulletin board where folks can list reminders, and needs and offers (one retiree offers homemade cookies for lunches in exchange for dog walking; college students might swap auto-detailing for home cooked meals).

Map the resources of skills and offers (science tutoring by a neighborhood retiree, revolving cooking classes, transportation pooling) and keep it circulating in the neighborhood using flyers, emails and bulletin boards. Amateur Photographers in one neighborhood might supply family sittings & portraits; in return they gain both recognition and remarkably creative portfolios and scrapbooks.

Put up a bookcase in a shared community space (Laundromat, Church hall, Doctor’s office) for a Bring One/Take One of books, magazines and videos.

Closet Shopping Sprees require that everyone bring five or more clean garments, and then take away the equivalent, or simply enjoy passing them on.

If every family begins to list what truly nourishes their family and nurtures their sense of identity, of belonging, of hope and of contribution, we can then share our lists and weave together a web of support based on these things.

There are many others, and I recommend reading the post here. It is interesting that the ideas came about from a conversation – not from one person alone.

I also like his Top 10 Ideas for making the world a better place. Some of them are specific to the United States – we have already removed “pennies” (one cent pieces) from circulation and changed to metric measuring here in Australia. Vote-counting is not the issue here that it is in the States either. Positive language, including the cost of disposing of excessive packaging in the pricing, and seeing ourselves as “good ancestors” being observed from the future; these are all ideas that can be useful everywhere.