I Can't Take It Anymore

Funeral Industry News Social Media October 28, 2012
Ryan Thogmartin

Ryan Thogmartin is the Founder and CEO of DISRUPT Media, a Funeral Home Marketing Company specializing in social media. Ryan is also a deathcare entrepreneur who has launched; DeathCareJobs.com, PriceMyFuneral.com and Funeral Nation TV.

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.