2013 Social Media Marketing Checklist for Funeral Homes

December 30, 2012
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Guest article from Social Media Strategy and Management Agency DISRUPT Media

As we enter a pivotal new year for funeral homes, we thought it would be helpful to deliver some key items for your funeral home’s social media strategy checklist for 2013. And, as we also enter a new year of Google changes to the ever-important search algorithm, we include a review of organic SEO from a social standpoint.

1. Get Your Staff on Board

Before you enter the brave world of social media strategy, mobile and tablet marketing and SEO, you will want to make sure all staff members are on board with your goals and understand why your funeral home is investing in an unchartered marketing path. As a key driver for client/customer engagement, social media activity takes into account all funeral home activities that affect those relationships.

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Your preneed salesperson(s), marketing person, support staff, secretary, branch managers and owners all need to be on board with the direction of your social strategy. The smartest way to move on this is to appoint one ringmaster within your firm to be accountable to both your social media marketing goals and communicating with outside social media agency then passing along the information to the internal staff. If your a large firm with multiple locations and managers, having directors connect and agree on the direction and goals is a must.

2. Collect All Marketing Material

A good social strategy will require a total inventory of marketing material. In this way, you want to gather up all customer/client-facing online content, including: Yellow page ads, published newspaper ads, community outreach presentations, in-house handouts, online ads (Google Adwords campaigns), preneed ads and handouts, service driven ads, product ads and handouts from vendors (urns, vaults and caskets) and finally evaluate your website for sales material. From here, you will be able to understand what you have been promoting about your funeral home and if you want that to change the overall message or keep it the same.

3. Review Your 2012 Social Media Activity

The only way to assess and ignite a movement in social for your funeral home is to see what your current activity (2012) has done to drive customer engagement (and conversion if applicable). You will want to list all social pages pages, including: your blog(s) and any on-site communities, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest and any other social networks or forums in which your funeral home is active as a company or represented by an employee of the funeral home.

From here, you should assess how you have been engaging, what you have communicated (content types, length, and type of messaging), how often you have communicated, a level of engagement and a sentiment of interest (positive/negative/neutral). If you have been using a social management and monitoring system such as HootSuite, Sprout Social, etc., you should certainly run analytics to assess how your social program has delivered in 2012.

4. Review Your SEO Program

What business-driving keywords have delivered qualified leads in 2012 for your funeral home? How have you taken a lead in online visibility through social with your knowledge of your SEO program results? Are you tracking social mentions and follows at the same time as SEO effectiveness in Google Webmaster Tools and Analytics?

As social sites like Twitter, YouTube and Google+ directly impact search results, you need to be aware of your SEO programs and their effectiveness as they relate to social marketing activity and vice-versa. One of the best ways to organically enhance your SEO is through social media marketing.

5. Define Your Social Goals for 2013

Are you marketing your services to a price sensitive customer? Are high-end traditional funerals your goal? Are you enforcing value through quality and not price? Are you pursuing a low-end cremation customer? Whatever the case, your social media marketing goals need to resonate with authentic customer/client family engagement.

To define your social media goals is to start with your business goals and a true understanding of your target market. Social media marketing is the ultimate communications tool for reaching and engaging a target audience in the following ways:

  • Excellent customer/client service
  • Updates on funeral home, staff, products, and services
  • Product/service promotions
  • Education of the customer around your value (what are your services that would provide perceived value to the consumer)
  • Making your funeral home go viral on the web (yes, it’s possible for your funeral home to post something that goes viral. Here’s proof: 5 Tips For Engaging Funeral Home Facebook Fans)
  • Informing your target of changes in the funeral profession, products, and services
  • Acting as a thought-leader by taking the lead in online education. There are thousands of conversations online centered around death; start controlling those conversations.

You are selling yourself and your funeral home that is providing a service and end-of-life solution. Your goals should be customer engagement and qualified conversation. To that end, you need to educate, inform and show value in the services you provide.

Too often in the funeral profession you hear marketers talk in terms of increase of followers and fans and not what they should be discussing — engagement, conversion, and relationship building. The value of social media is not in your number of likes, fans or followers.

Once real goals are determined, only then can you make your social plan that benefits your client families and target market. (To get you started we here is a free social media goals worksheet)

Taking stock of what you have done in social media marketing in 2012 and what results those activities have driven will fast-track you on your way to launch a successful social media marketing strategy for 2013. But if you base the results of your social media efforts in 2012 on a social media program that didn’t begin on the foundation of goals and a strong game plan, which ultimately wouldn’t produce any results, then diving in deeper in 2013 probably doesn’t make sense to you. We encourage you to seek the guidance of a social media agency that knows the funeral profession and has a clear and understandable social media design process that is proven.

Remember to gather your marketing material, align your key staff members to your 2013 goals, and review your SEO effectiveness and it’s organic power within social media, and you will be well on your way to a social strategy that will work for you in the new year.

Image from Flickr user – giulia.forsythe

Ryan Thogmartin

CEO at DISRUPT Media and ConnectingDirector.com
Ryan Thogmartin is the Owner and CEO of DISRUPT Media. DISRUPT Media is a full service social media agency specializing in social media strategy, management and reporting for funeral companies. DISRUPT Media is the creator of the FUNERAL Social Design Process which is the only full service social media strategy program crafted specifically for the funeral profession.

Go to http://funeralsocial.com to find out more about the services we offer. Our clients who are apart of our FUNERAL Social Design Process are seeing an increase in post reach and engagement of over 300%.

Ryan is also the founder of ConnectingDirectors.com. ConnectingDirectors.com is the leading online daily publication for funeral professionals with a reader base of over 45,000 of the most elite and forward-thinking professionals in the profession. With ConnectingDirectors.com Ryan has created a global community through an online platform allowing funeral professionals to Stay Current. Stay Informed and Stay Elite.
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