At conventions when folks visit our booth to inquire about our social media services, I typically ask if they have created and maintain a Facebook page for their funeral home or funeral related business. Almost all answer in the affirmative. When I ask whether they are able to maintain the page and engage with customers, the replies are far less positive. Lack of time, not knowing what to post, or even how to post, are usually named as the biggest inhibitors to keeping their pages current. Even so, everyone agrees that it is critical in today’s online economy to maintain an active presence on Facebook.
Why is it so critical? The answer is simple. More and more, your potential customers are spending a significant portion of their time engaging in social media. The ways of advertising to and engaging customers that were huge in the 20th century are quickly giving way to 21st century technologies. How can your funeral business benefit from having an active presence on Facebook? Here are some ways to consider:
- Use Facebook as a place for potential clients to review positive testimonials. As long as your Facebook page is set up as a local business, you have the option to display positive reviews and testimonials from your customers. Odds are, you have always requested your customers to give written reviews of the services you provided. Informing them that they can provide a review on Facebook is a wise way to increase the odds that they will actually take the time. Put up a sign in a discreet place in your business, or soliciting reviews in follow up conversations and/or paperwork (pointing them to your Facebook page) are great ways to garner this feedback. Once the reviews start coming in, you can easily share the best ones on your more static website.
- Use your Facebook page to take surveys or ask for audience feedback. If you maintain an effective Facebook page, you will be building an ever increasing audience base. From time to time, offer them the opportunity to take part in an informal survey by asking their opinions on a range of topics. Here are a few ideas of questions you might ask:
– Do you have a specific place you would like to be buried or have your ashes scattered?
– Have you considered pre-planning for your own funeral?
– What is the most unique or unusual experience you have ever had at a funeral service?
– Are you considering cremation or traditional burial for yourself or your loved ones?
– Will your own casket be made of wood, metal, or something else?
By engaging your audience in this way, you are inviting them to invest in your success as a business. They are giving more thought to issues they will undoubtedly face in the not-too-distant future while they are warming up to you as their potential deathcare provider.
- Take every opportunity to engage with your audience. Not only is it a good idea to ask questions and to invite feedback, but through these open doors you can actually engage with your potential customers. Every time you “like” a comment someone has offered, a notification carrying your name appears on the top of their Facebook page indicating that you have responded in some way to their remark. Even better, when you comment back to them, it demonstrates that you really are paying attention. Just yesterday, I made a humorous comment on a post that appeared in my personal newsfeed from a business I follow. The person monitoring their page made an even funnier reply, showing me that he got my joke, and he was willing to “one up” me in regards to the effectiveness of my humor. This left a very positive impression in my mind toward this business.
- Use your Facebook page to point your audience back to your web site. You do not want your Facebook page to be a place where you do a lot of outright advertisement for your business. A good rule of thumb to follow for audience engagement is the 80/20 rule. Eighty percent of your content should be for your audience, and 20% should be for your business (sales, marketing, self-promotion, etc.). This means that the bulk of your online promotion should take place on your web page. Make sure that your web page link is sprinkled liberally throughout the About section of your Facebook page. From time to time, when posting content, remind your audience that they can find out more about you and your services on your web page (while providing the link). If you have a sympathy store, every once in a while post a photo of something that is available in your store coupled with a link to access it on your web page.
It is obvious that your Facebook page can benefit your business even though only 20% (at most) of the content you post should be directly related to marketing. The ideas above are easy to implement, and they can reap decent engagement and good potential for future ROI. Even so, your time may be very limited, preventing you from actively posting and engaging on Facebook. This is where DISRUPT Media comes in! Using our 4 step FUNERAL Social Design Process we work with each individual client to set goals, plan content, monitor engagement, and report results that will result in an improved presence online. Our process is what enables DISRUPT Media to claim that we are the funeral profession’s only full service social media provider. Our clients who are a part of our FUNERAL Social Design Process are seeing an increase in post reach and engagement of over 300%.
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