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I Can't Take It Anymore

I am tired of watching funeral directors get snowballed by companies they trust. Companies that offer marketing services that they admittedly don’t know anything about. 

I recorded this video back in January but it is even more relevant now because more companies have embraced the auto-pilot, free add-on, generic content driven social media management model, and it doesn’t work. I’ll prove it.

Marketers have conditioned us over the years that “content is king” and that use to be true, but everything has changed. It’s more about the “context” of your content and ultimately about user engagement.

Specifically, lets look at Facebook, over the last few years just posting updates daily with content links, text blurbs or random images proved to be beneficial and would produce adequate exposure and reach even if the engagement from users was low (engagement = likes, comments or sharing of a post by the user). The content that was posted was more about getting“ the user to “like” your page not really engage with content. Companies focused more on “custom landing pages” that were “like gated” and not on getting the user to interact with your posts.

I warned, in January (as you will see in the video below), that this was setting funeral homes up for failure and you need to work with a social media company that helped you create a social media strategy that focused on your customer’s values and creating engaging content. That was the only way you could win with social media and stay relevant in your target users newsfeed.

Here is what has pushed over the edge…

I have talked with three funeral homes in the last week that have called to let me know they were embracing social media thanks to a presentation they heard me give. When I asked who was going to help create their strategy the response gave me a sickening feeling in my gut. Not because the company they were working with, but because there wasn’t a strategy that was going to be created, there were no goals set (how to you measure ROI with no baseline and no end point), and that the company was going to manage the social media for the funeral home for free which the funeral director explained consisted of a library of article content the company was going to post daily for the funeral home. FYI: If someone is going to manage your social media for free, WALK AWAY (for sake of time I won’t get into the “why” of this statement in this article. Call me and I will explain.)

I congratulated the funeral director on realizing the need to embrace social media and I also apologized to him. I apologized that my presentation led him into the arms of a company he trusted and ultimately that company was now going to solidify his perception that social media is worthless and won’t work for his funeral home. I promise that just posting content links and random images (that are sweet quotes and not related to your business) WILL NOT PRODUCE THE RESULTS YOU WANT!

Facebook weights what appears in your Newsfeed by how much you engage with that company’s page or someone’s profile. Do you ever notice how you have 250 friends on Facebook but only a select few constant appear in your Newsfeed? This is because these are the friends you engage with most or are posting simular content to which you typically engage with. The same goes for companies. Those you engage with appear in your Newsfeed much more than those you do not engage with.

When the Timeline design launched in March Facebook also implemented the “Reach Generator” that promised if you post relevant content daily, your posts would appear in the Newsfeed of 35-50% of your fan base (if you had 100 fans you would reach 35-50 with each post, and more if your post got a increased amount of engagement).

Facebook changed that on September 20th. You now reach, on average, only 16% of your fan base. Why? Facebook wants the experience of the user to be more valuable and to determine value they measure engagement. Oh, and they are a public company and need to make money.

Here is a reply that was received by company Edgerank Checker in an email they sent to a Facebook Ad rep asking about the dramatic decrease in post reach:

A Facebook Ad Rep had emailed the following:

  • We’re continually optimizing newsfeed to ensure the most relevant experience for our users
  • One of the key factors in our optimization is engagement: the amount of clicks, likes, comments, shares etc. generated by a piece of content
  • While overall engagement should remain relatively consistent as a result of our most recent optimization, your organic reach may be impacted
  • The more engaging your content, the lower the impact this optimization should have on your reach going forward
  • Feed is optimized to show users the posts they are most likely to engage with, where engagement is defined as clicking, liking, commenting, or sharing the post – or in the case of offers, claiming the offer.
  • Posts that are more likely to be engaging tend to appear higher in feed. Some of the strongest factors that influence this are how engaging an individual post has been for other users who have seen it, and how engaged a user has historically been with other posts they’ve seen from that page. Feed also takes negative feedback into account, which is the number of people who have hidden a post or reported it as spam.
  • Finally, if a page has a piece of content that it feels will be very engaging e.g. A good offer, a great photo, an announcement, etc. then using paid media to “boost” that post to fans in newsfeed can be an effective tool to increase engagement with fans.

 

Social media marketing and management is more than posting content. If your marketing company is not offering the following in regards to social media then I strongly advise you to go elsewhere because they don’t fully understand social media marketing:

  • Social media education for your entire firm. Everyone needs to be on the same team and page
  • Social media guidelines and policy document to be followed by employees
  • A process for creating a social media strategy
  • An assessment of the current and future state of social media as applied to your firm, customers and competitors (detailed report of your firm’s social landscape)
  • Create monthly Game Plan and editorial calendar (a breakdown of what will be posted on each social network and when) to be implemented over the course of set time period. Platform timing, events, etc. for all social media channels.
  • Monthly Buzz Report which is meant to give a detailed view of how well the social media strategy is working related back to business goals. This is how you measure ROI.
  • A plan for modifying the strategy based on mesurable results

I know this ruffled some feathers and that is ok. I am not trying to anger anyone. Social media is powerful and I’m tired of funeral homes not being able to benefit from these outlets because so called “marketing experts” are leading them astray.

I am making this an open forum. Please share your anger, hate or love below.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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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  • alan

    Don’t know who your 3 funeral homes are using but if it happens to be one of the conventional ad agencies I haven’t seen any of these that understand social yet. A lot of folks have jumped on this band wagon as if they are firefighters only to turn out to be pyromaniacs.

  • STOP THE RANTING

    So here’s the real truth. Ryan has never actually practiced what he preaches. He rants and raves about social media for funeral homes but has never created and implemented a social media platform for a funeral home. He lists no funeral home clients on his Disrupt media site. I tried to hire him. I told him the project would spotlight his supposed talents and that I had money to spend. He blew me off. He was too busy with speaking engagements he said. He doesn’t sound like a guy hungry to grow his business. By the time he got back to me I hired a real social media company, not a shell. I think that the idea of having to actually do the things he is ranting about scared the hell out of him. Ryan is pissed off because he thinks he convinced a funeral home to develop a social media strategy and then they hired someone who has actual experience in doing it instead of him. Dale is correct, Ryan needs to walk the walk before he talks the talk. Stop the in your face attitude Ryan, it is really annoying.

  • John B

    Why are all these so-called funeral marketing experts talking as if social media is the answer to funeral director’s problems? Facebook is not the answer. I have yet to come across a funeral home who actually gain new business from Facebook, let alone actually engage their community. Does anyone really believe a distressed family member goes to Facebook to check out a funeral home? Even those that are preplanning are unlikely to see Facebook as a platform for research. More ridiculous is that Facebook has paid advertising, and any funeral home could bid to feature their own funeral home when someone is on your facebook page. This is similar to YouTube, the other platform that everyone has now flooded with their own company montage video, only to have competitor ads run on it.

    Why don’t funeral homes focus on the basics of how people want to engage with them? Why don’t more funeral homes put prices on their websites – that is why so many use the Internet to look at a funeral business. Why don’t these so-called funeral marketing gurus actually advise funeral homes to participate in geo-located advertising with Google? Or to focus on localized aspects such as Google+ and other locality directory and review services? What about pay-per-call targeted advertising that offers a direct measurable ROI such as with Yellow Pages?

    And as another commentator stated – Ryan, why use the fear approach to try and convince funeral homes that they need YOUR services? What I can’t take anymore is all you so-called funeral marketing experts who think that telling us social media is key to our future business strategy is the answer.

  • Robert Widdowson

    Ryan,
    Thanks for delivering a very thought-provoking message. Plus, delivering your message by video is the perfect fit. You are a bold visionary.
    You’re right! Funeral homes that do marketing should re-evaluate their marketing strategy. In fact, every business that spends money on marketing should consider its marketing strategy from time to time. It only makes sense that they would review the plan – and keep doing what’s working/stop doing what’s not working.
    I do think that ‘content is still king’ when it comes to marketing. We all know the difference between good and bad content – at least on a gut level, although we may not be able to put it into words. Good quality content has at least 3 characteristics:
    1. The content makes sense. A lot of the content on social media is crazy, incoherent gibberish. The message must be understandable if the reader is going to become engaged.
    2. It sounds personal and friendly. When the reader reads the message, he should feel as though he’s listening to someone he knows and trusts. If the message sounds like it was sent by a robot from the ice planet, then he’s going to be turned off. People respond to a warm, friendly, trustworthy tone. That’s so important!
    3. Finally, the message clearly explains the benefit. Why should someone do business with this funeral home rather than that one? What’s the benefit?
    It all boils down to a simple fact: The marketing message must be well-crafted or, over the long run, people will stop listening to it.
    The current model of inbound marketing is all about high quality content that enlightens readers by providing solution-based information. And Google does seem to favor content that is well-written. Finally, people share content they find valuable. All these trends suggest that content is still king.
    The trick is producing high-quality content that’s geared for social media.
    Thanks for blazing the trail, Ryan!