Many funeral directors are just beginning to recognize the incredible value of an effective social media strategy. With over 500 million people on Facebook, there is a huge opportunity to leverage that platform to grow your funeral home!
The basis of such a strategy includes publishing your obituaries on Facebook to accomplish 3 goals:
- Build your brand and a following
- Drive traffic back to your website
- Educate and inform your community
To accomplish this, a funeral director must carefully consider how best to promote obituaries on Facebook. Many funeral directors are struggling with the basics of effectively promoting obituaries on Facebook, so I’m going to provide some tips and advice.
Create a Facebook Page for your funeral home
You want to build a brand around your funeral home, and it’s important to keep that effort separate from your personal profile on Facebook. So the first thing you must do is create a Facebook page. It’s easy to do (here are some instructions), and is a powerful first step to build a lasting brand on following on Facebook.
When creating your Facebook Page, be careful filling out the name, since you will NOT be able to change this down the line.
Face it, you’ve got better things to do as a Funeral Director than constantly updating Facebook with every obituary. It’s 2010 – these kinds of things should be automatic!
Fortunately Funeral Innovations, through our UNITE initiative, lets you automatically publish your obituaries to Facebook AND Twitter. We believe that for a social media strategy to be effective, it also needs to be easy. So with UNITE, you create the obituary once and publish it everywhere: to your website, to Facebook, to Twitter, and to the UNITE Directory.
Drive traffic to your site
Your social media strategy is all about building your brand and driving traffic to your site. That’s why every link in your publicized obituaries, whether it’s on Facebook or some 3rd party directory, should go directly to your funeral home’s website.
Do not pad the pockets of some other company over your own!
There are many 3rd party obituary services and directories that leech your traffic by showing the full obituary on their own site with only a small link back to yours. Avoid these services at all costs because they are using your customer’s obituary to benefit themselves rather than help you grow your business.
Another tip: Facebook Pages let you synchronize an RSS feed of obituaries to the profile. However, you want to avoid this approach because it will not provide a link back to your site. Instead, the link will simply show the full obituary content right within Facebook itself. Instead, you should use a 3rd party application like what we provide for free with our UNITE initiative. We customize the feed entry to include the right obituary information with the links going straight back to the obituary on your website!
Anatomy of a Facebook Obituary
Ryan Thogmartin of Connecting Directors has some good tips and observations on Facebook obituaries. He advises not to post too much information in the obituary because you don’t want to annoy your followers.
However, I believe his advice goes a bit too far in the minimalist approach. The reason is that it’s important to engage and catch the attention of your followers. Remember, every time they login to Facebook they are bombarded with hundreds of updates. Yours needs to stand out!
I do completely agree with Ryan that you must ensure you don’t annoy your followers; otherwise they won’t be your followers for long. So here is the recipe for an effective Facebook obituary.
1. Including a photo is a must!
By including a photo in the obituary, your update is much more engaging, stands out more, and results in a higher click through rate. Pictures make your update personal, and your followers will appreciate that.
2. Include enough content to be useful.
Your ultimate goal is to provide a service that is valuable for your followers. They will repay you by paying more attention to your updates and by trusting you to provide them value. Additionally, if you provide enough valuable content in the update, they will click the all-important “Share” link to promote it to their own network and initiative the viral behavior that can cause your follower count to explode!
3. All links should go back to your site.
If you provide your followers with valuable content, and they like what they see, they will click through to see more. Make sure that the people who want more information go back to your site! It’s important that the links from your obituaries go straight to that obituary on your funeral home’s website, rather than some 3rd party service or staying stuck on Facebook.
Starting an effective social media strategy for your funeral home is easy if you use the right tools. At a minimum, you should have a Facebook Page that is automatically updated with your obituaries with high quality content, a picture, and prominent links back to the obituary on your funeral home’s website.
If you want to get started with social media, or want a more effective presence, contact us. We have free services available and are happy to help you get started!