You have, already at your disposal, in the palm of your hand, the most powerful social media tool you need to promote and market your funeral home effectively: the obituary.

Yes! The obituary. This daily task of yours. This centuries-old notification, with its inherent call-to-action, the visitation and service details, could be described as the very first social media post because of its ability to rouse a community to connect and take part in a social event. Used properly, the obituary still beckons potential clientele to your door where they bear witness to your beautiful work and are warmed by your exemplary attention to detail, culminating in, quite possibly, another satisfied client. Online, the obituary still acts as your emissary, awing readers with its compelling tribute and distinguishing your home from those which continue to publish obituaries written without the kind of personalization you consistently provide your clientele.

However, the magic does not just happen on its own. In order to achieve the optimal payback from your obituaries, you still have to leverage these memorials correctly in order to generate the kind of buzz which has people talking about your home long after the service has passed. Here are a few key points to think about.

1. Publish. Publish. Publish. Get your obituaries online onto every network available. Feature your obituaries on your website, your Facebook page, in online newspapers, and on new technological platforms which make sharing and passing along obituaries easy and beneficial for your business. People are still reading the obituary section, especially online. In fact, it’s one of the most visited pages of online news outlets, garnering an incredibly high percentage of overall views. You want to be part of that. You want people to see you. You want people to read the name of your home over and over and over again.

2. Tell a compelling story. Marketing is a story. Advertising is a story. The history of your home, your workplace, is a story. So, take the time, it need only be five minutes, to add a bit more personalization to the obituaries you create. You will dramatically increase the share-ability of your obituaries by composing a memorial which reads less like a death notice and more like a life story. Add in a few quotes from family and friends, break out a thesaurus and throw in five to ten adjectives to spice it up, and include a few lines about hobbies or pets, or favorite memories, which persuade the reader to not only continue reading, but also, remember the name of the home which produced such a wonderful story. Including such features takes your obituary from a dozen eyes to thousands of eyes: a death notice may be seen by a few hundred people on Facebook, but an interesting life story generates commentary, and gets passed along, and along, and along.

3. Include a picture. Better yet, include a few pictures. Download a collage-maker and put together a beautiful memorial board in seconds. The old adage is true: a picture is worth a thousand words, and in today’s world, it is worth a thousand shares. Differentiating yourself with interesting photographs attracts clicks, even from readers who do not recognize the deceased, which improves the traffic to your social media platforms and your website.
4. Last, between the obituaries, post your personality. Too many homes rely on canned, impersonal posts on social media. Is this the kind of service you offer? No. You offer a warm, personalized, heartfelt experience. So, demonstrate that for your online audience. Your social media updates should be one-third promotional and two-thirds what I like to call, personality. Yes, certainly put up a post about pre-need or one that lists options for those coping with the loss of a loved one. Yes, promote the widows’ and widowers’ support group meeting your home hosts every month: this is promotional. But, get attention by calling attention to a particularly lovely floral arrangement that was just delivered, snap a photo of the front of a thank you card you received and write about how appreciative you are of the families with whom you work. Highlight improvements and updates you make to your home. Take a photo of your regular team meeting and share it. Post about one of your funeral directors every few months with a picture and a brief biography. People want to connect online. Demonstrate you are human, not some faceless enterprise. Showing people how much you care about your service, your home, and your team is even more important than showcasing what you offer. People are driven by their emotions, so tell a little story with each post you put up, even if it’s just how proud you are of your freshly manicured lawn. People will connect your stories with your service and then, they will connect with you.

You already have everything you need to run a successful social media marketing campaign and the obituary is key. You already write it daily, so why not use it to your advantage? Putting such attention into the details of your obituary, and your social media, also indicates to your audience that they will get the same sort of treatment, or even better treatment, in person. While the bare minimum may seem enough, you have to remember that your online presence is an extension of everything for which your home stands. Your online presence should be just as gracious, excellent, personable, and warm as your home. Make it so. FBA

Petra Lina Orloff is president and CEO of Beloved, which produces custom, personalized, handcrafted obituaries and eulogies. She has been a professional writer for over 20 years and also completed the PhD program in English at Wayne State University in Detroit, where she taught literature and cultural studies. Her academic area of specialty is storytelling. You may contact her at [email protected] or at (248) 894-7076.