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Should I Just Pull The Plug On This Site?

A few months ago I posted a reply I made to a blogger who wrote an article titled, “When Social Media is Not Right for You” and used the funeral profession as his main focal point. The point I made was it should be natural for funeral homes to embrace social media and many funeral homes are having great success with social media when implementing it correctly.

In the past 5 years I have been a huge advocate for funeral homes embracing social media and other technologies as tools to better serve client families and to better connect with their communities. I have spoke at many different state conventions and consulted with many funeral homes and industry companies. Outside of ConnectingDirectors.com I run a full time social media marketing agency that serves clients all over the globe. Do I think I know how to help businesses and organizations create successful social campaigns…absolutely.

Over the years I have had a few hecklers come and go. Honestly, I expect it and it doesn’t bother me. But I do like to draw light to comments and articles posted by these hecklers because I like to see what other’s opinions are.

I noticed a blogger (heckler) yesterday post an article in response to the article I posted yesterday titled, “Social Media is Worthless“. The blogger is James Patton, an ex-SCI funeral director, who made national news back in 2009 (I am not getting into why). He has made many negative posts directed at ConnectingDirectors.com and myself. I have refrained from commenting or posting them for the past few years, but this article yesterday made me laugh. So I am going to post some snippets from it for you to read.

If you agree or disagree please share your thoughts in the comments below.

Mr. Patton says:

I was rather surprised to run across the following quote from a social media “guru.” In fact, it stopped me in my tracks. He said:

“Social media is like teen sex. Everybody wants to do it, but nobody knows how. When it’s over you are surprised it’s not better.”

Now, in most cases, one might simply overlook the comment. However, this was directed at the funeral industry, during a soap-box rant over the fact that more funeral homes need to hire him to develop a social media “strategy.”

I don’t think I need to argue these accusations, but in no way did I make any reference in my article that “funeral homes to hire me”. I don’t care who you hire just make sure you are creating a solid customer focused strategy.

Patton goes on to say:

I think what business owners are surprised about, is how they could have fallen (or in some cases, did fall victim) for another bogus sales trick from a so-called social media guru. The simple fact is that for funeral homes, the only true “return” from a “social media strategy” is in the pocket of the social media “strategist.”

Think about it, realistically, are people really interested in visiting a funeral home’s Facebook page? Can a funeral home really have anything exciting to tweet about on Twitter? Latest deaths maybe? “Special on caskets, One Day Sale – Today!”

And, even if a funeral home wanted to dabble with social media, would it be in their best interest to hire someone who has never made funeral arrangements with a family? Maybe I am missing something?

If I am missing something, please advise.

So I have to ask, should I quit talking about social media, technology, or other progressive ideas and just pull the plug on this site because I have never made funeral arrangements with a family? I mean the last thing I want is a following of professionals who think I am just pumping another “bogus sales trick”.

It’s true, I am not a funeral director and I have never pretended to be or claimed to be. In fact I have been very open about the fact that I am not a funeral director in a number of articles and videos. I think that is what makes my perspective on this profession more valuable, I came into this profession 8 years again with no preconceived ideas. I learned about this profession from listening and doing. I am not afraid to suggest new ideas, change is good and I think this profession is more open to change right now than ever before. I have tried to be an agent of change and I think this site has been a huge influence of positive change in this profession. We now have a group of experts providing weekly content that is progressive and yet useable. The information professionals are getting from this site can immediately be dripped into their business strategy and in my opinion I find that very valuable, but I guess I am some what biased.

Please let me know your thoughts below.

As always thank you for reading.

Ryan Thogmartin

Ryan Thogmartin is founder and CEO of two innovative companies. Connecting Directors LLC (www.connectingdirectors.com) and Disrupt Media Group, LLC (www.disruptmg.com). ConnectingDirectors.com is the premier progressive online publication for funeral professionals. ConnectingDirectors.com is a thriving global publication with a reader base of over 15,000 of the most elite and forward-thinking professionals in the industry.

Disrupt Media Group, LLC is a social media marketing solutions firm. Disrupt MG focuses on proficiently assisting small businesses in creating engaging social media marketing strategies. Without a social media marketing strategy companies and brands are just aimlessly posting without any coherent direction. Social media marketing is more than just having a Facebook, Twitter, and Youtube page; businesses have to have a strategy to telling their story, one that opens the door and starts the conversation.

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  • Richard Neal

    Ryan, I think that you and Connecting Directors is doing a wonderful job!! It has been a valuable insight to me and my businesses. If there is one common thing that I have learned in my broad variety of businesses is that there are always plenty of “nay-sayers” and “couch critics”. One of my favorite quotes:

     ”Those who say it can’t be done, shouldn’t distract those who are busy doing it!”

    The dog barks – but the train keeps rollin’!!!!

    Roll on my friend!

    Richard Neal

  • Kim Stacey

    Hey, Ryan, my friend…you’re doing a great job. Exposing people to new ways of connecting with their demographic can be challenging (at best) and damned difficult (at worst). Bottom line: social media works, when it’s done right. For example, O’Connor Mortuary’s blog/Facebook page work beautifully together – I love their blog! It’s chock full of quality writing, and insightful thinking – and it’s LIFE-focused…not funeral-focused. And, man, they are really connecting with their community – just look at the number of comments left on the blog! “Adapt, adopt, and prosper.”

  • Monica Vernette Gray

    I enjoy this site.  Please do not shut it down.  You don’t have to be a funeral director to understand and appreciate the value, magnitude and opportunities that social media present and represent.  It is my very humble opinion that many funeral homes will incorporate social media in their business strategies as they challenge paradigms and re-shape business models to compete with rising cremation rates, and new entrants into the market (e.g., hotels, event planners, resomation/alkaline hydrolysis). ConnectingDirectors has value and a meaningful purpose.  You be encouraged Ryan. Thanks.  Monica Vernette Gray 

  • Chuck Gallagher

    The quote was…”And, even if a funeral home wanted to dabble with social media, would
    it be in their best interest to hire someone who has never made funeral
    arrangements with a family? Maybe I am missing something?  If I am missing something, please advise.”

    OK…here’s the advice.  You are missing something.  You likely hire an accountant to help you with your books and taxes.  They have, like you, specialized training in this area and provide you the help you need to run a well rounded business.  The same is true with Social Media…you hire folks with specialized training to help you navigate the ever changing waters of social media so that you can gain the full advantage or benefit for your business. 

    That said, if you believe that your social media consultant must be a funeral director to help you with this ever evolving field, then I must assume that you’ve found a funeral director who is an accountant to help you with your financial records.

    Hum…as I write it occurs to me that maybe I’m missing something…

  • Lajos Szabo

    You don’t have to agree with any of Ryan’s positions or like
    who he is but attacking the individual rather that the idea/argument/position
    is immature. And to imply that you have to be a funeral director to give advice
    to the funeral industry is ludicrous! As a licensed funeral direct I have sat
    across the table from a family that has lost someone they loved. And to be sure
    there were things I did not “get” until I did.  That does not mean I can’t take advice from
    someone outside the industry, analyze it and adapt it to my purposes. Our industry
    needs help in changing to meet the current needs of families we serve and I,
    for one, welcome any ideas wherever they come from that might just be part of
    the solution that leads us to a brighter future.

  • Fslprofessional

    WoW!  As a funeral director/embalmer in three states, and former FH owner, technology only enhances our services.  Yes, people do visit Facebook.  In fact, many people continue to visit the funeral home obit of their loved one many times, and for many years.  Being a funeral director does not make you tech savvy!  I know how to pull a tooth!  But, who do I go to for professional advice?  Ryan, we ARE in this together and if we learn just one more idea, procedure, or service that can help our families, then that is what our profession is all about.  Caring and compassionate and professional.

  • guest

    james patton is mentally ill. Just because he was charged and not convicted with  corpse abuse does not mean he is innocent either.  And by way of checking there is nothing that says the case was dismissed.

  • guest

     http://www.truecrimereport.com/2009/10/is_former_houston_funeral_dire.php

  • Georganne Bender

    Everyone’s a critic. Social medias are valuable tools for any business, funeral industry included. Social medias, especially Facebook, change every week — we need pro like you to keep everyone up on those changes. I am not a funeral director either, but as a consumer, I particularly enjoy Toland-Herzig’s Facebook page. It’s one of the first things I look at each morning. https://www.facebook.com/tolandherzig

    You’re on the right track Ryan, stay there!

  • http://www.facebook.com/mark.j.kenney.1 Mark J Kenney

    No. If someone is mad at you, you are doing a good job.   Keep up the good work.

  • http://www.facebook.com/markthog Mark Thogmartin

    Ok I am biased.  I’m Ryan’s dad.  But I’ve had the privilege of assisting Ryan during a few conventions, manning his booth while he pounded the floor of the convention hall talking to other funeral professionals about Connecting Directors and social media.  I can’t tell you the number of people who have introduced themselves to me, then who tell me what an impact CD has had in their own practice and in the larger industry. It can be shown, historically, that those who “reign” in the current predominant  paradigm are the most resistant, at first, when the new paradigm rolls in.  And, frequently, the paradigm changers are those who are outsiders to the organization or industry at hand.

    So, Ryan, you have been a paradigm changer, and I’m proud to say I’m your dad.  And I love to help you whenever possible, because it’s great to hear the stories about the difference you have made.  Don’t shut it down…but always be humble enough to watch for the tiny grain of truth that might be there in even the most absurd rant.

    Dad

  • funeralfuturist

    Ryan, in the words of (another Social Media Guru) Guy Kawasaki: “Don’t let the bozos grind you down.”

  • Georganne Bender

    I love your Dad!

    • ryanthogmartin

      Me too!

      • http://www.facebook.com/Giftsru Kathleen Meyers Baska

         Please do not shut it down. I enjoying reading it all. Thank you!

  • Vsarnold

    No, this is a very interesting and informative site. We need it to open our eyes beyond the walls of our funeral homes to the general public is comfortable with in the 21 century.

  • Vault Man

    The funeral profession needs more supporters like Ryan “The Man” Thogmartin. It is people like Mr. Patton who need to get out of this business. For someone to sit back and judge RT is absolutely ridiculous….have you ever met him? Have you ever listened to him speak? Have you ever had the honor of speaking to him? He is one of few supporters of this profession who will listen. He is in the business for all of the right reasons.
    Has he cornered the market on Social Media in funeral homes??? Maybe! But why not, he is good at it.
    Stay the course Ryan…you make a difference! Mr. Patton……get your head out of the sand and pay attention….the world is passing you by!

  • Brian Young

    Ryan,

    Keep going forward. You’re the first one to really build a platform that this industry is using to discuss issues. You’ve proven that you aren’t afraid to take criticism and grow with it. I applaud you.

    James Patton,
    Your “facts” are false, and your conclusion is faulty. Just visit the Facebook page of Toland-Herzig Funeral home. You’ll notice that in addition to the nearly 1300 likes which they have, just as importantly they have people regularly interacting with them, albeit often in a simple manner, but interacting none-the-less. If you ever studied marketing, you’d know “top of mind awareness” and “brand evangelism” are key ingredients to maintaining and increasing marketshare. Toland-Herzig and other firms are figuring out how to leverage this new reality to achieve those objectives. There are other examples I could point to. You should do better research and make solid arguments about the issues Ryan tries to help the industry address.

    Brian Young
    FuneralNet Communications Strategist

     

  • Dana Fox

    Your site is the best place I have found for a consolidated rundown of Funeral Industry news.

    Through CD.com, I have kept up with the fiasco at Arlington, the growing trend in alkaline hydrolysis, the ever amusing sense of humor of Funeral Industry professionals, and an innumerable amount of trendy and classic personalization options… and I haven’t even finished Mortuary Science School yet.

    So keep on keeping on.

    And don’t let the one naysayer I’ve ever really seen on here get you down.

  • GBanks

    Just yesterday as I was looking through my news feed on Facebook I see a group of people standing standing in front of a my companies Wilbert Blue Tent at the graveside.  They were taking one last picture with there loved one.  Over 35 people were tagged in that picture.  I’m not sure what the number of average friends people have but even if they had 100 friends that’s 3,500 people that had a chance to see that picture. This tent also had the funeral home name on it in the picture…..  that was all free advertising for that Funeral home.  If they would have had a Facebook book page they could have been linked to it. Keep going Ryan I know of quite a few people that have listened to you and have taken your ideas and not paid you cent.

  • Mike Wessels

    Ryan…like so many other industries the end result is the all the same.  Each business needs to find their niche…being licensed at something does make the person an expert, professional or even a good business person.  The comment was in my humble opinion was off the mark.  I for one enjoy the updates and the site…its call pal and YOUR business.  

  • Lavine Funerals

    This site is good. I enjoy the articles and learning what’s going on in other parts of the country. Heck, even the social media debate is interesting. Not sure if it’s right for our profession, but it’s interesting.

  • Dbackhaus

    Continue Ryan….this is a most valuable forum and information disseminator.
    Let it roll of your back. We appreicate you.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=725516077 James R. Gonzales

    Absolutely not! This industry needs forward thinking people of which most certainly must to be brought into the 21st Century. I have been a business person now for over 23 years I can tell you that the higher you rise, the more people will shot at ya’. However, I do feel that specifically, with regard to Social Media, that it may not be entirely appropriate for the death care industry. Case in point I live in a small town and I have maybe posted once, or twice, just a simple notice when someone in my circle has passed, and I have received scathing private messages from friends about using Facebook for such. Not because I was friend of the decedent passing on info, rather I am in the industry and the view being that I am using such information for self promotion. It’s really touchy.  I think the reality is that most people, don’t want to be reminded of the death on a daily basis. On the same level too, I know for a fact most people don’t want to be bombarded by anybody, with anything, with regard to business or marketing of any type. I come from the real estate industry and there is nothing more upsetting than having your news-feed cluttered with people posting articles about the “10 reasons why you should buy”or “use me I am the best”. I do believe though, on the flip side, that social media comes in handy for the families of the decedent, when they simply are letting there circle of family and friends know of a passing of an of a loved one. In those cases, it’s a powerful tool to communicate the location of a service, date and time ect.

      

  • Dave

    in one respect, I do think your “critic” is correct in assuming most people in general are not interested in visiting fuenral home websites and/or facebook/twitter pages unless they have a direct reason for doing so, i.e. a pending or immediate death in their family.  having said that, is the time and $ spent doing this generating a real return, or are we just wanting to feel like we are keeping ourselves in the main stream of technology by doing this?  It’s always hard to know if any form of advertising (and facebook is advertising) is generating more business.

  • Zachary Garbow

    Keep fighting the good fight, Ryan. You’re doing a great job bringing education and a fresh perspective to the industry.

  • Bloomington Cremation Society

    As an underdog, advocating green burial and cremations, I’ve seen an awfully lot of ‘traditional’ thinking. This industry mostly operates on a 19th Century business model. Undertaker is an apt description. Someone had to undertake to arrange a carriage and grave digger, and happened to sell furniture and coffins. Unfortunately, few are advocating the needs of the client family and just pitching the “value of the funeral,’ (That may be a trade mark?)
    Our website not only has obituaries and other useful info but also contains PRICES! Can’t tell you how many times families thanked us and colleagues cursed us. We think we’re doing something right and think you must be too! 

  • http://www.funerals.coop/ John Eric

    Ryan:  Keep up the great work!  I look forward to reading your email newsletter each morning and have learned much from your articles about social media. I appreciate your perspective as someone who is not a funeral director.  The Funeral Industry is undergoing rapid change and no one has all the answers to prepare us for the future, but clearly you are on the right path.  The internet and social media have revolutionized our lives and how consumers interact with funeral homes.  Those who don’t keep up with these changes are quickly loosing market share.  The other question you need to answer for yourself is whether your business model is meeting its profit goals.  That is something only you can answer.  If you were to shut this down, your perspective and information would be greatly missed.  

  • Diggerodale15

    Keep the faith brother. The times they are a changing. If we dont change we will all get are funerals and cremations at walmart and cotsco.

  • Charlescowling

    The poet Rudyard Kipling wrote: “And what should they know of England who only England know?” Substitute ‘the deathcare industry’ for ‘England’ and the point holds. Funeral directors can learn a great many invaluable lessons from the fresh eyes of a detached but concerned outsider. If funeral directors truly live and work at the heart of their communities, then mastering social media simply, obviously, has to be the way to go. Social media represent opportunity and professional development. They are a force for evolution. So, on balance, Mr T, I think you should stay in the game. From my own detached point of view (I’m English), I think you’re doing a jolly good job. (Oh, and I think your Dad offers good advice. However wrong critics may be, they’re always worth listening to.)

  • http://www.eFuneral.com/ Mike Belsito

    Ryan, in addition to helping funeral professionals position themselves better with technology — your involvement in the funeral profession has had another (perhaps unintended) consequence:  You’ve encouraged startups like mine to launch, learn, and hopefully help the funeral profession.

    I’m grateful for everything you continue to do — from publishing thoughtful articles to creating meaningful dialogue.  I’ve learned a lot from you, and now consider a friend.

    Keep it up, Ryan.  These comments are evidence of appreciation for who you are and what you do.

  • ryanthogmartin

    Thank you so much for all of the amazing comments. I love this site and this profession. It is greatly humbling to have so many supportive followers :) We are posting a video response to this topic tomorrow.

  • Kvarner

    First of all I agree with my friend Chuck Gallagher from a practical standpoint, not all consultants or contractors we hire have funeral experience, in some cases it is absolutely necessary, for example, we use Graystone Associates to help us in many ways but specifically in helping our funeral and arrangement staff become better arrangers or funeral directors. Other consultants they rely on us to provide expertise in funeral service, like our software consultants for our business applications.

    I wanted to make two points about the value of social media, first we serve families where mom or dad have lived a long life and may or may not be internet savy,etc.. I get feed back from our funeral directors that these families do not want an obit in the newspaper due to cost or some other reason, but I would estimate that 95% of those we serve have children, grand children and or great grand children and I gurantee that they can or do use social media. So when I think of social media I am not thinking so much of the deceased but of the families and friends of the deceased who do use social media. I look at social media in not only adding value to our families but building a connection between all the other family members and the funeral home.

    A few weeks ago the President of Facebook wrote an article about her experience with her grand mothers or mothers death that she agonized over whether to post to her Facebook account, she did and what she found was emotional support from people that she did not even know that she found great comfort in, another reason why Facebook and other social media sites are important they provide emotional support in helping them pass through the process of an acute loss, which is one of the great personal opportunities a funeral director or our profession is intrusted with.

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