This is one question constantly (and rightfully) posed by funeral home owners and vendors. Does investing in an active presence on Facebook pay off in terms of business gained? We will take a stab at providing some answers in this article.
While speaking with a potential client yesterday, he quoted his boss (the funeral home owner) as routinely saying “We need dead bodies!” I was initially taken back, and then the irony and humor of the statement got the best of me. After a hearty chuckle, and discussing the fact that (unlike most purchasing decisions) families aren’t in a position to declare “Hey, let’s bury Grandma today!” we had a brief discussion about ROI in the funeral profession, and the elusiveness of being able to come up with firm numbers no matter what form of advertising is used. I challenged the potential client to explain how they determine ROI on their newspaper advertising, or on the time they devote to participating in community activities and memberships in community organizations.
Even so, it is right to question whether investments in “amping up” a presence in the social media, particularly in Facebook, really affect the bottom line. Intuitively, we all believe that the more our potential customers are exposed to the positive aspects of our brand, the more likely it is that they will come to us when they have a need. It only makes sense and really is beyond debate. The more likely issues involved in determining ROI in the funeral profession are these:
- If small to medium size funeral home owners and funeral vendors struggle to have time and resources to maintain an active, thoughtful presence on Facebook, they also don’t have the time or resources to do the research necessary to determine if their efforts are paying off. In a previous article, I explained a bit about how to use Facebook Insights to examine the reach and engagement statistics associated with your business page. As good as the Insights data is, far better tools are available…for a price. These sophisticated programs provide much more data from which some ROI issues can be examined. But who has the money or time to invest in purchasing and using these tools? Large corporations can commit resources toward this end. Dedicated social media management services also utilize these higher-end programs…more on that later. So, just because positive ROI is difficult to measure does not mean it doesn’t exist.
- Another reason ROI is difficult to determine in the funeral profession is related to time. This is nothing new and is true with any advertising effort. A family needs the services of a funeral provider on the average of once every 15 years. Given the fact that a funeral is not an “on demand” type of service, and given the relative newness of social media marketing, there simply has not been enough time to establish reliable trending data in the industry, and especially within a single funeral service provider. So, if you ask a funeral home owner/operator whether her Facebook presence is making a difference in her calls-per-year rate, she will most likely respond “I just don’t know.”
- Finally, too many variables are involved in “scientifically” determining which of your promotional efforts are making the most difference. I’ve got a background in educational research. In any experimental study, variables must be isolated when implementing them in order to determine whether their effect has any experimental significance. A small to medium funeral service provider does not have the luxury of isolating his promotional efforts to determine their individual effects. In other words, you are not going to completely cease all other advertisements, you are not going to prohibit word-of-mouth publicity, and you won’t limit your active presence in the community just because you started posting to your Facebook business page. You will, most likely, continue all of these marketing thrusts while also ramping up your Facebook presence.
Even given the difficulties mentioned above, the most recent research indicates that small to medium business owners are increasingly spending more time and money in maintaining an active presence in the social media, specifically Facebook. A recent study by Manta, an online resource dedicated to small business, titled “2015 Social Media Marketing ROI” shows that more than a third of respondents increased employee time spent on social marketing from 2013 to 2014. The 2015 Social Media Marketing Industry Report revealed that 53% of marketers planned to increase their use of Facebook ads in 2015. Evidently, a great number of small to medium business owners believe that it does pay off to invest in Facebook marketing efforts, despite the difficulties involved in measuring ROI.
At DISRUPT Media, we are dedicated to helping our funeral service clients who have decided to aggressively pursue an active presence in Facebook and other social media channels. We can craft a Facebook strategy tailored to your business using our exclusive four part FUNERAL Social Design Process. Our process is what enables DISRUPT Media to claim that we are the funeral profession’s only full-service social media management firm. Our clients who are a part of our FUNERAL Social Design Process are seeing an increase in post reach and engagement of over 300%. Go to http://funeralsocial.com to find out more about the services we offer.
Mark Thogmartin, VP of Business Development at DISRUPT Media
Dr. Mark Thogmartin is a life-long educator, working with students from Kindergarten through the doctoral level. He has degrees from the University of Kentucky, the Ohio State University, and Andrews University. Mark’s book, Teach a Child to Read with Children’s Books, has gained wide acceptance among reading tutors and parents who are teaching their children at home. In addition to assisting his son, Ryan, at DISRUPT Media as Vice President of Business Development, he works part-time as a mentor of doctoral students at Capella University. Mark and his wife Donna live in Millersport and are the parents of three adult sons and the grandparents of two beautiful granddaughters.