Recently, I made a presentation to members of a few associations in the upstate New York area. I spoke with members about changing times in funeral service and expectations from today’s consumers, and some of the things I heard from attendees were not new to my ears. I actually hear many of these stumbling blocks when it comes to funeral homes using social media as I speak to the 20+ groups each year. So, I figured it was time to address them in a blog post.
As you can see by the image, the presentation was titled Effective Funeral & Cemetery Marketing in the Digital Age. This presentation in particular, took place at the 2013 New York State Association of Cemeteries convention, and for two hours we talked about the value of the Internet and social media in promoting your funeral firm’s brand and reputation.
I’ve got to admit, at one of the presentations, part of our “table talk” had to do with a (commonly-heard) remark about social media made by an attendee–who offered this reason for not using social media, and Facebook in particular:
“Funeral Homes may not want to use Facebook because they think someone will say something bad and they are worried that they don’t have control of that.”
I’ve heard the remark so frequently that I’ve got to spend a few minutes on it here. So, let’s just say someone leaves a negative comment about your funeral home on your Facebook page. Your first impulse is to delete it; to erase it from the social record, right?
But you can’t, because it would be a wrong message to send to your community. Because it shows that you ignore family’s problems; that you don’t care about what they have to say.
And you can’t ignore the comment. Hey, ignoring it is almost as bad a deleting it. The person who posted the message will be upset, and will be sure to share his or her feelings with their social network.
The whole purpose of having a Facebook page is to create a bond between you, the families you serve, and your community as a whole. To do that, you must offer them freedom of speech and respond with transparency. That means you need to see that negative remark (and the potential for negativity in social media in general) as an opportunity!
First of all, those comments let you see where things might have gone wrong, and give you a chance to improve your funeral home policies and operations–after you respond to the comment left behind.
It’s important to know too that all page administrators are notified instantly by email of any comment or like on your page so if something bad is said; the system gives you a chance to respond right away.
Another concern voiced that evening, well more a myth than a concern; one that is this:
“Social media is for teenagers.”
If you didn’t already know – all generations are on Facebook and one of the fastest growing groups is the 74+ age group. That’s because members of the older generations want to stay in touch with children and grandchildren, and know exactly where they’re hanging out. So, if we know our consumers are there – why aren’t we there as funeral professionals?
Let me close by saying this: providing an engaging social experience for your target audience is no longer a luxury, it’s a necessity. As the Social Media Marketing manager here at FrontRunner Professional, I’m committed to sharing what I know about social media to helping funeral professionals understand, and take advantage of, the online forces which can determine their overall success.
Why not share with our readers what you’re doing with social media, including Facebook. Let us know what’s working; what’s not–and what concerns you most about this new frontier of funeral home marketing. Leave your comments below!