Since being founded in 2004, Facebook has become the world’s single largest community. What started as a Harvard student vanity project in a Cambridge, Massachusetts dormitory has become a platform actively used by over 2 billion people. The social media network is an integral source for news, communication and has also become a large online marketplace for which businesses of all shapes and sizes can advertise to the public. In many ways, the influence Facebook has on consumers is the social giant’s most significant innovation. You see, Facebook advertising allows businesses to target consumers based on who they are, what they care about and their tendencies, creating a venue for which businesses can share content with an audience that is already interested. When it comes to death care, Facebook has become one of the fastest growing components of a solid funeral home marketing strategy. Firms can connect with the community and stay top of mind long before their services are needed. But everything has just changed.
Seemingly overnight, the social network announced changes to their newsfeed, one that will see an emphasis taken away from businesses. The new goal is to show more content (video, articles, images, posts) that friends and family have already engaged with. Speaking on the changes, Mark Zuckerberg said “We want to make sure that our products are not just fun, but are good for people.” The company’s top exec also stated that the new focus would be “meaningful interaction.” Reading between the lines, this means it will be harder for businesses to connect with consumers by simply putting out what Zuckerberg refers to as “passive content”. Instead, strategies will have to shift towards creating content that people want to share with those they care about – moving closer to where the platform started, from a giant marketplace to an organic place for people to connect.
While it might not be a bad thing, firms that use Facebook for their funeral home marketing will have to make some key adjustments. Here are several ways your funeral home can can adjust to the changes and continue to engage with the families in your community.
At the core of this Facebook update is the hope to start more discussions and organic engagement. One way to create this type of interaction with your Facebook page is by posting obituaries. Not only are these posts a great exposure of the services your firm offers, but they encourage family members, friends, loved ones and other members of the community to like, comment, share and connect with others. Not only do people expect obituary posts from funeral homes, but they are a great platform for staying visible in an organic way. The more people from the community who engage with it, the more people will see it. The best part? It costs nothing. Just make sure you don’t drown your Facebook page with obituaries. Like everything you do, there has to be a balance.
If engagement is the new name of the game, it is important to always post content that is going to prompt discussion. A great way that you can accomplish this is by posting open ended questions that require people to answer. Through managing the social media marketing of over 100 businesses, we have learned that open-ended questions are a fun way with which people can interact with the funeral home and with each other. Aside from creating engagement, these posts are also a great way to get the community talking about life, death and generally make your funeral home more approachable.
Sticking with the theme of being approachable, people are more likely to be interested in content that involves other people in a relatable way. Funeral home marketing has long been about showcasing facilities, staff and services. That does not need to change, just make sure you take advantage of every opportunity to share it with the community. If it is a beautiful day outside, take a picture of your funeral home. If you have an event with staff, take a short video. The truth is, there are endless ways to create personal content and none of them need to be time-consuming. Think about Facebook as another way to invite people into your funeral home, shake hands with your staff and get to know your business – just as if they were walking right into your front door or picking up the phone. It is just another way to tell your story.
One of the most damaging practices for any business on Facebook is posting just to post. Think about it. Chances are, if you do not care about the content that you are putting out there, neither will the people you are expecting to interact with it. This may seem simple, but it is actually the most important tip in this post. You have to start posting content that your community wants to see. And while you may not know immediately what this content is, trial and error is the best way to find out. In addition, you can look through your Facebook history to see what has worked in the past. Funeral home marketing is tricky enough as it is. Be sure to only share the highlights and stuff that you think people will care about. You may not always be right, but thinking about it every time you post will go a long way. Believe me.
Though Facebook, and social media in general, can go a long way to improving your funeral home marketing, it is not the only solution. Generally, the goal of Facebook is to send people to your website, anyway. So, you can have a great page, with great posts but if people end up visiting your website – you will want that experience to be just as informative and engaging as what brought them there. Updating your funeral home website will bring the improvements made on your Facebook page full-circle. People are more likely to read and engage with content that they find interesting, so you will want to make sure that your website reflects this. Update stock content, especially on personalized pages (staff, facilities, about us, history etc.) so that visitors will get the same, personable feeling that they experienced while engaging with your stuff on social. Consider writing and hosting an informational blog to improve the “social-ness” your website.
At FrontRunner, our social media team suggests using the 80/20 rule. This means 80% of the content you post should be personal, entertaining and engagement-worthy, while 20% of your Facebook content should be promotional. With our social media clients, this has been proven as the perfect mix of promoting services and engaging with the community. With the new changes, this will give the community ample opportunity to connect with your funeral home and this will result in more people seeing your content. Mari Smith, who is a premiere Facebook marketing expert, has advice for businesses reacting to the new and improved newsfeed logic.
“Don’t stop publishing on Facebook. [Just try to] be more relevant, more engaging,” she prescribes.
Working with over 2,000 funeral homes across North America, we know that staff are constantly busy. That is why we have built a funeral home social media program to help firms create and sustain an engaging presence on Facebook, so that they can focus on serving families. With the new changes, having a successful Facebook page is going to require more time. That being said, it is, now more so than ever, an imperative ingredient in your funeral home marketing strategy.
If you don’t have the extra time to make this all work, the good news – we are ready and willing to help your firm, just as we have for many others. It has been almost two years since we launched our social media marketing service for clients and we have seen great results. Through this experience we have learned that funeral home social media, when done right, has helped firms grow between 300-700% and reach thousands of new people in the community. It is not a waiting game, either. The funeral homes we work with have seen unprecedented increases in reach, audience, engagement and the number of families who contact them within just two weeks.
Even if your funeral home marketing strategy doesn’t include Facebook yet, we would love to help you get started. Contact us today to learn more about our program, what our social media experts can do for your funeral home and find out what it is like to be the talk of the town.
Brandon is the Marketing Communications Manager at FrontRunner Professional. He holds a Social Sciences degree from McMaster University and a Graduate Certificate in Integrated Marketing Communications from St. Lawrence College. His creative writing and innovative ideas bring new life to the company, FrontRunner’s clients and funeral directors world-wide.