What’s the real value of marketing with social media and the
Web for funeral homes? Some funeral directors still believe that social media is a fad and some do not even have a website for their funeral homes. There are almost a billion people searching online. Without a website and social media presence, your funeral home is losing business every day.
The true value of social media and the web is its efficiency. It is the most advanced form of communication that we’ve ever seen.It’s marketing in the moment. You can use your funeral home website and social networks to reach out to your families and get immediate feedback; so that real relationships can form. Your website can provide valuable resources for families seeking death care information on pre-need or at- need services.
1. Create a professional website that works for you and your client families every hour of every day.
FrontRunner has technology solutions for every size funeral home and every budget, with features such as Book of Memories, (online memorials) a sympathy gift store, access to local florists, and a complete management system.Your website and tribute memorial pages are the starting point to growing your influence and engaging families online.
After launching your funeral home website, there are a few social networks that will increase your “reach” on the Internet even more and work with your website to create more online traffic. Each social network has a unique purpose and can be linked to your website.
2. Create a business presence on the top three networks:
Facebook is the largest and most advanced of all the social networks. With 901 million users, Facebook has captured 50% of the world’s internet users. Facebook not only knows your friends and family, it also knows their friends, what they’re interested in and what they are searching for. This is valuable information. Most of your prospective families can be found on Facebook. You can provide the link to your website on your business page, making it easy for them to find you when the need arises.
LinkedIn is the second largest network with 161 million users. LinkedIn is business-oriented and captures each user’s employment history, industry, professional interests, professional contacts and educational level. This network is a great way to showcase your funeral home business and interact with your colleagues through professional funeral groups and discussions.
Twitter, with 140 million users, is the third largest network and micro-blogging service which enables its users to send and read text-based posts of up to 140 characters, known as “tweets”. It generates 340 million tweets daily and handles over 1.6 billion search queries per day.Your funeral home can follow others and be followed by those searching for you. There are also funeral lists that you can follow.
After launching your website and joining the top three social networks, there will be three phases to implement to insure a strong social media & web presence.
Phase 1: Growth
FrontRunner has powerful search engine optimization tools built into all their technology solutions, making it easy for client families to find you locally. In the growth phase for social media, your success metric is your friend or fan count. You can add friends on Facebook by asking people in your community to add your business page to their “likes”. You can also follow new Twitter accounts by interest, and add contacts to your LinkedIn list.
Phase 2: Engagement
Engagement is very different than growth. You can devote a lot of time growing your fan base, but if you neglect to plan appropriately for the engagement phase, you will lose your audience completely. Lack of engagement initiatives means fans hear less from you and have little reason to return to your business page. Less engaged fans translate to less reach. The more fans you lose to disinterest, the fewer fans that ultimately see your messaging andthe more business you lose.
You can increase your engagement with your funeral home website by posting updates on the social networks. The most effective way to utilize your social networks is to use your website as the “hub” for all social media to start and return to. This is your circle of influence. It also increases your level of professionalism and separates your funeral home from your competition. FrontRunner has built-in tools on their funeral home websites to assist you with this important task.
The most valuable business benefit that emerges from web engagement and social media marketing is called “earned media”. There are three types of social marketing content: paid, owned and earned. Paid and owned include paid advertisements and paid media strategies. Earned media is the coverage you can’t buy. This is the “holy grail” of media. This includes mentions, recommendations and shares generated by users who are so engaged by your content that they’re compelled to share it with their entire world. According to Neilsen, 90% of Internet users saying that they find a recommendation from a friend trustworthy and they will act on it. That means funeral homes should attempt to increase their earned media. Word-of-mouth from strong relationships can equal more calls and repeat business.
Earned media is truly the key to unlocking the power of social media for your funeral home.
For the first time, your audience can tell you exactly who they are and what they want from you. Families don’t enjoy price shopping, especially in their time of need. They want a personal connection and a funeral home that they can trust; which is exactly what social media allows you to provide for them.
Social media channels are an excellent means of increasing a funeral homes’ trustworthiness and goodwill. These platforms, along with your funeral home website, allow you to engage client families and to build real world communities around your funeral home.
At the core of effective web and social marketing is transparency and authenticity. These two features show families how much you care about them. Build authority and practice transparency on your funeral home website and social networks for added value. The quality of your content and offerings spell value and trust.
Phase 3: Monetization
As a family builds trust and engagement with your funeral home through your website and social channels, they will naturally move towards monetization and advocacy.
Some funeral homes have mixed feelings about monetizing their website but consider this: your funeral home is providing valuable resources that families and friends of the decedent need, right on your website. By lighting a candle, purchasing a sympathy gift, ordering flowers through local florists or making a donation, FrontRunner clients are generating hundreds, even thousands of dollars monthly through their funeral home website and memorial tribute pages. Online visitors are able to share their condolences all in one place while providing your funeral home with additional revenues. It is an ideal method of passive income that at the same time brings families peace and solace.
When families are happy with your funeral services, ask for testimonials. When you post recommendations, reviews and referrals on your website and through your social channels, other people are selling for you. This is the goal of social marketing. It has nothing to do with you selling directly on your website. It’s about forming relationships and getting families to recommend you to their friends based on their experience of your compassion and high level of care.
In summary, social media is not a fad anymore. You’re involved in the social realm already, whether you want to be or not. Your families are there, and they will talk about you and your funeral home. Word spreads quickly, both favorable and the opposite. Having a professional website and creating social marketing is not a choice anymore, it’s reaching families where they live and serving them.
Smart social media and funeral home website marketing creates a sustained, long-term relationship with families, which evolves into a viral impact that is far reaching. The payback is in the quality of connectionsthat develop and therein lies the true value. It has the potential to influence thousands of friends and family members associated with each family that you serve. That residual value is just one aspect of web and social media marketing that makes perfect “sense”and translates into “cents” for you and your funeral home.
For all of those active social funeral professionals out there, what do you post on your social media channels? What works well? What does not work so well? What online features are really making a difference for your business? Please comment with your answers.
Ashley Montroy, Marketing Director at FrontRunner Professional, has committed herself to helping funeral professionals understand and excel in today’s digital age. With a long-standing history in the funeral business and her father being a licensed funeral director for over 30 years; she grew up learning the family funeral business. Ashley holds a bachelor’s degree from Carleton University and diploma from Algonquin College. Today, she continues to speak to over 15 state and provincial funeral association groups each year on funeral marketing in the digital age and protecting funeral firms online using experiences and examples from working with thousands of funeral homes in North America through FrontRunner Professional.