The Future of Social Media May Rest With the Deceased and the Funeral Home Industry
I remember going to the New York World?s Fair in 1965 as a child and being absolutely amazed at all the future innovations showcased in its many wondrous exhibits. In just one day at the Fair, my family and I were escorted through the Space Age, the Information Age of computers and communication, the Consumer Age of new materials and products for everyday life, and the Atomic Age of electricity. What a blast!
The entire theme of the 1964 World?s Fair was about having optimism for the future of mankind. This eight-year-old kid from rural central New Jersey was made wide-eyed by the Sci-Fi visions he saw in General Motors? Futurama exhibit, which not only displayed terrestrial cities of the future, but also ones that were 10,000 feet undersea and reached only by atomic submarines. Pretty cool stuff, especially back when most of us still watched Ed Sullivan on black and white TV sets every Sunday night. Forty-five years later, many of these fantasies have yet to materialize. But, they were fun to imagine in 1965 and it is still fun to remember how we once imagined them as kids in a much less modern world.
?Penfriends? Being Chosen by a Computer Was Really the Start of Social Networking
The 1965 World?s Fair DID make a few actual predictions for the, then future. A 12-minute boat ride of rollicking ?children? called ?It?s a Small World? introduced us to early stage robotics. Telephones with pictures and buttons instead of dials have brought us to what is now digital telephony and a great little computer application called Skype.
Tucked in a bit more obscure exhibit at the 1965 World?s Fair was a computer that assigned us pen pals in Finland and India. Perhaps, we may now interpret this system as a precursor of Social Networking ? using a computer to reach out to others.
In 2010, World?s Fairs aren?t even talked about all that much. How many are actually aware the Shanghai Expo is being held in China this year? Probably not too many of us are running to make travel plans, because the innovations we used to go to World?s Fairs to see unveiled are now commonly found on the Internet or they can be seen on any visit to Disney?s EPCOT in Orlando, Florida; at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, or on the floor of the New York International Auto Show.
Futurism is Alive and Dead
Wherever you may happen to go to satisfy your appetite for progressive innovation, futurism is a really cool concept. We all know we are eventually going to age and die. We see futurism as a way to take a look ahead and see what kind of new technologies may be coming to us either later in life or to our children and their own children decade from now. Whoever thought that a Star Trek communicator in the late 1960s would become a reality in the early 21st century in the form of a Blackberry, Droid or iPhone?
Ironically, the funeral industry is a place where creativity and innovation are taking place faster than elsewhere. Because, we all only get one chance to die, we all want to do it right. Technology gives us a great opportunity to do more with death than we ever could before. This is of great comfort to the dying, as well as to their loved ones.
Aging baby-boomers are driving the excitement in funeral technology, because they want to die as they have lived with youthful exuberance. And, that means ?coolness.? Would the type of wake shown in the video clip at http://bit.ly/cJdzdC, even be considered 25 years ago? How about the sports-themed cremation urns and caskets shown at http://bit.ly/bGdruH? As society relaxes some of its more traditional and formal views on death and funeral protocol, more and more people are exploring the expanding possibilities available to them through technology and Social Media. The fear of dying before some of these things are introduced in addition to the funeral industry?s growing interest in creating new revenue streams for itself is driving the creative process.
Even The Departed Can ?See? the Benefits of Social Media Technology
Christopher Hill is the founder of Funeral Resources.com, an online clearinghouse for all things funeral-related. Chris, a Funeral Industry ?Futurist? and respected industry Blogger is often on the broadcast media introducing some of the latest technology and Social Media innovations in his industry. These include the use of cams to stream online funerals to those unable to physically attend for one reason or another. He also talks about the development and embedding of unique microchips in headstones that will record and play the voices of the deceased (prior to death, of course) and the messages left behind by those visiting his or her gravesite. The chips are designed to last for hundreds of years and can be communicated with by cellphone.
In addition, funeral directors have seen other Social Media innovations take hold such as online obituaries and online memorials to the deceased. Their ROI is being enhanced through their elaborate websites that offer merchandise and services that put a little more distance between the immediate and sometimes overwhelming grief caused by the death of a loved one and the need or desire to purchase items related to their life and death.
The Creativity of Today?s Funeral Directors Has Revolutionized Their Own Industry
Funeral Home websites now offer a full range of products and services, which include everything from ordering flowers and printing cards to creating elaborate hardcover ?memory books,? ?memorial websites? and ?Life Legacy Films.? There is also web-based grief support, end of life planning for relatives of the recently departed; online arrangements for pet cremations and burials, and online payment centers to conclude any type of purchase made.
Funeral Directors wishing to remain in touch with the families of the deceased are doing so, online and by email. Many are following up with survivors 30, 60 and 90 days after a funeral. They realize this is a good way to comfort their customers during a particularly hard time for them and, in doing so, hope to create a sense of customer loyalty for their funeral home. Social Media has made all of this possible and it is a good fit for an industry of caring and reaching out to others in a very special way.
Andy Gaur, CEO of RiaEnjolie Inc. (http://www.riaenjolie.com/funeral-home-websites.html), a New Jersey Web Developer specializing in professional looking and affordable websites for Funeral Homes and most small businesses, is very well attuned to the world of traditional and Social Media. ?It is much better to be preparing a well conceived and comprehensive marketing plan and getting ready to use an appropriate mix of outreach and networking strategies rather than just sticking with just one or two that haven?t been working so well lately in the Funeral industry,? says Gaur. ?If you don?t jump on different things ? like Social Media ? that show promise, you may end up in a struggle to retain your current customers and fail to gain new ones that are unaware of your business and what you can offer them in caring and quality service.?
It used to be that one died, had a viewing and was laid to rest with a limited amount of fanfare. The future has arrived and many new ways are now available to make death a bit more comfortable for all involved. Social Media is leading the way.
About the Author:
Marc is currently the Director of Social Media at RiaEnjolie, Inc. (www.RiaEnjolie.com), a NJ based Web Developer specializing in professional and affordable websites for small businesses.
Connect with Marc on Cdsocial: Marc’s Profile
Read Marc?s full Bio at: http://www.linkedin.com/in/marclevineica.com.
Connect with Marc on Twitter: icanewfriend
Please Visit The First Funeral Industry Social Network: http://cdsocial.com/cdsocial-network
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