It was just a little over two years ago when we first introduced our funeral home social media marketing program to the death care industry. Since then, we have worked with over 100 funeral homes around North America to help them establish more meaningful relationships with the communities they serve, connect with younger demographics and showcase the more relatable side of their business.
The results have been nothing short of fantastic, with our clients growing unprecedented audiences and becoming more visible online. And as much as I would like to dedicate a post to revelling in the successes our program has had, it may be more fun to look at where the world of funeral home social media marketing is headed two years from now.
First, lets take a look at the five major social networks, Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn. Each has seen astronomical growth in the past 2 years alone, with Facebook gaining over 500 million new monthly users, according to Smart Insights. Judging by these numbers, and the many others readily available online, more people will be using social media in your community within the next two years.
By 2020, there will likely be twice the amount of people in your service area doing their buying research online, with much of that being done on social media channels – and that is something your firm ought to be paying attention to.
There is a common misconception that social media is a young person’s game. That could not be further from the truth. Not only are older people (65+) the fastest growing audience on social media, but they also use it regularly. In 2008, just ten years ago, less than 10% of those aged 65 or older used social media regularly.
Today, that number has skyrocketed to over 1/3. For death care businesses, this should play into your marketing plans for the future – in a big way. With those doing end of life arrangements, research or at least starting to consider their plans for the future actively using social media, it will soon become the most effective way to market to them. As younger more digitally literate generations get older, too, this will only to snowball.
There are many predictions about what the future will look like – but we can be certain that visuals should play a larger role in funeral home social media marketing. Now, I don’t mean cool graphics or great photographs. While those things will always maintain their intrinsic relevance, consumers are asking for more in-depth content like video. Some studies forecast that as much as 80% of all content on the internet will be video by 2020.
Those figures are astronomical. And it is already something we are starting to see across all generations today. For example, according to Hootsuite, 81% of those aged 55-64 watch videos online each month and over half of that viewing takes place on social media. So, not only are older generations on the same platforms as young people, but they are consuming the same type of content.
If you have plans for television ads in the next couple of years – I would reconsider. Now, let me rephrase that before anyone panics. TV ads are an extremely effective platform for funeral homes and we have had some of our clients experience wonderful success in using them. However, I am not questioning the future of TV – more the future of cable. Even streaming services like Netflix stand to lose out. The threat? Social media TV.
Over the next two years, you are going to see an increase in people who choose social media options over cable or streaming services to watch their television content. It has already started ever so quietly. YouTube and Facebook have both broadcasted live sports and entertainment events in the last year – capturing the attention of tens of thousands of viewers. Just last week, Instagram launched its own version called IGTV.
While it may not be clear right now how funeral home social media marketing will work into this fold – it does put the cards on the table for where social media is headed. The overall emphasis on video and visual content is something worth adapting to and incorporating into your future plans.
I am going to make a bold prediction of my own. We have seen the golden age of social media advertising come and go. By that I mean that advertising on major social channels is going to become more difficult and expensive. The reason? Everyone is doing it. Think about this – if you and all of your competitors are trying to reach the same targeted audience in the same area, something has to give. Now, social media advertising will still, for a long time, be the most cost-effective and direct way to reach your target audiences, but it is going to require more expertise to be successful.
This is because social media networks have changed the algorithms, bringing things back to their organic roots and away from an open marketplace. So one of the most important things for funeral homes to do is transition away from building ‘followings’ and build personal relationships with people and families. This way, it will cost less to get on their feeds and establishing a relationship of trust is something you can do years before they need your services. With the time and attention to detail needed to pull this off, I suggest finding a social media expert and hiring them.
At the end of the day, we don’t for sure know what the world of social media will look like in 2020. However, what I’ve shared in this post will come to fruition in some way. Audiences will grow. Older generations will be more accessible on social channels. Content is going to continue evolving. But no matter what happens, all social media marketers will undoubtedly need to prepare for a new landscape.
If you are already on social media, wonderful. If you haven’t started yet, it is never too late. Whichever side of that fence you are on, we are happy to help prepare your firm for social media in 2020 and beyond. Luckily for your firm, FrontRunner’s marketing team lives for this stuff. In fact, we just published our 2018 Social Media Guide to celebrate Social Media Day.
I invite you to schedule a strategy session with us to talk about how we can help your funeral home not only stand out from the competition in your industry – but lead your entire community online. Believe me, we can make it happen.
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.