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Social Media and the Customer

Social media expert Gary Vaynerchuk says this about social media and the consumer:


"To have the cost of entry be zero and to make excuses for why you're not building and why you're not caring is crazy. Everyone talks about how real and transparent it is (social media), and it really is. Because we have the ability to engage with people on a one-to-one level now, whether virtual in our underpants at home, or what, is very powerful. For my brand it has been successful and for the brands that have gotten their hands dirty and gotten over themselves and gotten into the trenches it's been successful.

Most of all, the consumer has changed. I don't see a pretty girl and grab a club and hit her over the head and drag her home by the hair. We have evolved as humans and so have the consumers. They don't want to be sold to the way everyone is use to, they want a piece of it, they want you to give a crap, and they WANT to engage. If you don't adjust to that and you draw lines in the sand of what you want, instead of what they want, you have absolutely no shot at winning in this game."


Gary is right on, the consumer has evolved, their BS meter is sophisticated, they don't want to be sold to anymore, and they want to be a part of the conversation. In many ways they are selfish, they want to be the focal point, and they want you to engage them. Your funeral home's client families and prospects are no different. Even when they are shopping for deathcare services, they are still using the same tools and practice the same buying habits as they do when shopping for everyday consumer items.


We already talked about having a customer-focused social media strategy developed before checking into the social media game, but to create a strategy that is going to speak directly to them, you have to KNOW your customer.


Understanding your customer's attributes is crucial to social media success. These traits drive not only how your customer perceives your firm's social media content but also how they interact with it.


Here are a few statistics from MySendOff.com that shine a light on the next largest generation of funeral home customers, the Baby Boomers. Of approximately 313 million Baby Boomers alive today:


  • 245 Mil – 78% are regularly online
  • 203.6 Mil - 65% use social media
  • 25 Mil - 8% will pass away in the next 10 years


In May of 2010, there were over 20 million searches for "funerals" on Google. Research shows us that 65% – 75% of people shopping for deathcare services are women. Here are a few interesting facts focused on this group of customers:


  • 79% of all women use the Internet
  • Over 79% of women ages 35 -65 use the Internet
  • The largest growing group on Facebook is 45 - 65 year old women


Are you starting to pick up on some of the attributes of your target customer? Need a few more facts to make it "slap you in the face" obvious? Here comes the open-palm cheek slapper:


  • 93% of adult Internet users are on Facebook
  • The average Facebook user spends 11 hours a month on Facebook


Ok, here are two more statistics I gathered from "Facebook Insights" (Facebook's built-in analytics platform) from the funeral home clients served by DISRUPT Media Group:


  • 67% of people who "Like" the funeral home's Facebook Page are women
  • 21% of those women were 55 years old or older


Disclaimer: Though the statistics above are focused solely on Facebook, which is the largest social network, there are many other social channels that make up the social media universe, and should be included in your social media marketing strategy. For purposes of this article I focused solely on Facebook.


It's not rocket science. The proof is in the pudding. The numbers don't lie. Your client families and prospect customers ARE USING social media daily, for multiple hours! You have to be where your customers are. You have to meet them on their turf and on their terms. If you’re not meeting them there, then your competitor probably is. The good thing for you is they (your competition) most likely don’t have a customer focused social media strategy developed using a proven Social Media Design Process. This is great news for you, because this means they also aren't engaging the customer, leaving unmet needs to be fulfilled. Are you going to fulfill those needs?

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.

  • Paul Seyler

    So Ryan you’ve provoked my curiosity.  Can you expand on some of the numbers you cite?

     – If women 45-65 are the fasted growing segment in Social Media, what is their actual usage rate?  Is it growing from 4% to 14% or from 64% to 74%? 

     – What is the usage rate in the pre-need sweet spot – from age 65-75?

     – Among firms with active social media programs, how many of their current cases are coming from people who have previously “Liked” their facebook pages?

     – Among firms with active social media programs, what percentage of “fans” have some engagement beyond the initial “Like” activity?

    Thanks and keep up the good work!

    • ryanthogmartin


      Thank you for your kind comments! Please see the comment above from Mike, he provided a link directly to the article I was going to reference.

      To answer your question about engagement, many funeral homes who are actively posting relevant and engaging content are seeing great interaction from users. For example one funeral home’s analytic statement I just looked at showed they have 1300+ fans and in the last 7 days 103 users had engaged with a post.

  • Paul, you might find the following article to be interesting: http://socialmediatoday.com/steve-olenski/565360/social-media-seniors-rules-are-changing

    Some highlights:
    *  50% of adults over the age of 65 are online.
    *  Over 33% of internet users over the age of 65 are using social media (up from 13% in 2009).
    *  Add it up, and that means that 16.5% of seniors (6 million people) in the U.S. that are online AND using social media.

    The article itself even references the funeral profession as a group that should be intrigued by these statistics.  

    Your question regarding engagement with funeral home social media properties is an interesting one — but I’m not sure that the answer matters.  A funeral home can create a Facebook page in literally 2 minutes.  However, whether or not people *like* a page that was hastily thrown together is irrelevant.  There has to be more to it than putting a page up and hoping people *like* it.

    Are all seniors using social media?  No.  But neither are most funeral homes.  Those that do put time and effort into using the internet to cater to these individuals will be farther along than their peers.  After all, I’m sure most funeral homes would like to increase their call volume by 16.5%.

    Some food for thought…

    • ryanthogmartin


      Thank you for the response! I was giving a social media presentation this morning and used that very article for reference on a few key statistics! 

  • Jim DeShannon

    This article refers to Gary Vaynerchukas as a “Social Media Expert.” I am wondering just how that qualification is determined?

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