Many funeral homes employ social media as a component of their marketing plan. They utilize social media marketing for building funeral home awareness, sharing content and increasing engagement with families.
Obviously, there are multiple social media sites, and some have been in existence longer than most people realize.  Many believe Facebook, introduced in 2004, was the first social media platform.  However, LinkedIn is the true frontrunner as it was launched a year earlier. Twitter soon followed in 2006, with hashtags introduced in 2007. Pinterest started in 2008, but did not allow business accounts until 2012.
Some of the more recent social media platforms include Instagram (2010) and Snapchat (2011). These platforms, and others not mentioned here, serve distinctive functions in the marketing realm for funeral companies.
Social media marketing is still relatively new and constantly changing. This means it’s easy to fall victim to many of the untruths surrounding how to conduct social media marketing.  Here are five tips for steering clear of a few of the common ones.
Social Media Marketing Myths
1. Social media marketing is free. It’s not a myth that starting a social media account is free.  All the ones mentioned above are indeed free and available for anyone and any funeral home to use. However, some of the functions of these platforms only are available for a price. These social media channels all offer paid advertising to expose a funeral home’s brand, business and content to a wider audience. Paid advertising via social media is different when compared to traditional media. In traditional media, there is a set price for a: 30 radio commercial or a half-page newspaper ad.  Social media advertising involves paying for ad impressions, link clicks and conversions, also known as cost per click (CPC).
Moreover, there is a time investment involved with learning and managing social media marketing. This type of marketing involves:
Regular posting on one or more platforms (sometimes multiple times, daily)
Creating content, whether written, photos or videos, for the platforms
Monitoring the platforms
Interacting with families on the platforms
Understanding the ever-changing nuances of the various social media platforms.
Some marketers use management tools, which typically are not free, to assist with creating, scheduling and posting social media updates. Investing in social media marketing means either paying an employee or an outside firm to handle all the daily, weekly and monthly components of social media marketing. With the time, money and resources needed, social media marketing is definitely not free.
2. Social media marketing produces instant results. There is plenty of information on how to successfully perform social media marketing to achieve quick results. Yet, because of a company’s uniqueness, what works for one funeral home may not work as rapidly for another (or may not work at all). For most business, including funeral homes and cemeteries, developing a social media presence and digital strategy is a long process. It’s important to figure out your purpose for using social media marketing: is it to engage with families, deliver engaging content or build brand awareness? Once this is determined, long-term strategies then can be developed to build a social media presence based on this purpose.
3. Followers equal success. An easy trap to fall into is setting a goal of increasing followers as a measure of social media marketing effectiveness.  Many celebrities and popular brands seem to accumulate huge numbers of followers in the blink of an eye. In fact, there are paid services available that will do it for you. But should you be focused on amassing thousands of followers? The simple answer is no. Just because the number of followers on your social media platforms is high, it doesn’t mean that they all are seeing your posts. And, they may not be from your target market.
The most effective method for increasing your social media followers is to produce engaging content that encourages interaction, such as commenting on and sharing posts. Measuring social media engagement is a better metric than the number of followers.
4. Social media has replaced the need for traditional media.  In a 24/7 social media world, it might surprise many to learn that traditional media is still alive and succeeding as a tool for getting the word out about your funeral home. Sure, the ways that many families consume information have changed, but traditional marketing should still be an important part of your business.  Not sure? Consider this:
The average person listens to a minimum of two hours of radio and still watches almost 5 hours of television per day.
Over half of all newspapers are still print only, but most have digital editions, though some of the content can’t be read unless you’re a subscriber.
And, more importantly, for those who use traditional marketing, 72% of people still trust the things they read in the paper or see/hear on television and radio.
While new media forms such as social media platforms, forums and others have their place in marketing, one must remember that traditional media has a much longer relationship with the consumer due to decades of communicating with the masses.
If you are still uncertain about the use of traditional media, consider these factors:
Traditional media allows you to reach a mass audience at once in a very targeted fashion.
Traditional media gives you third-party credibility – in print or online with reputable media outlets
Content published on news sites can improve your Google ranking.
It’s best to use both traditional and social media to promote your business to the fullest. The most important thing is to understand your target market and decide which outlets make the most sense for your families.
5. Funeral homes need to have a presence on all social media channels. One aspect of social media marketing is how often and when to post on the different platforms. One article might state that funeral homes need to tweet five times a day. Plus, they need to post on Instagram at least 10 times daily and at least three times a week on Facebook to be effective at social media marketing. Yet another article might stress that it’s important to produce at least four Facebook videos monthly. In addition, schedule 3-10 pins daily on Pinterest and have at least one Snapchat story each day.
Does your funeral home have the time, resources and money (see myth #1) to be active on all channels? Instead of trying to corner the market on every social media platform, determine which platforms will generate the best results, are better suited to your type of business and are frequented by your families. Then focus your efforts on being successful only on these platforms.
From Fantasy to Reality
It’s time to examine each of these social media marketing myths. First, social media marketing takes time, resources and money. Second, while there is no secret formula to get quick results, building a strategic presence will produce relevant results over time. Third, instead of striving to build a large number of followers, just focus on reaching your families.  Fourth, social media marketing has not replaced traditional media marketing, but the two can work well together to deliver your marketing message to families.   And finally, you don’t have to be everywhere in social media. But on whatever platforms you are present, be consistent. By creating a social media marketing plan that is unique to your funeral home and tied in with a solid digital marketing strategy, you can avoid these social media marketing fallicies.  FBA

Joe Weigel is the owner of Weigel Strategic Marketing, a communications firm focused on the funeral profession that delivers expertise and results across three interrelated marketing disciplines: strategy, branding and communications. You can visit his website at www.weigelstrategicmarketing.webs.com. He can be reached by phone at 317.608.8914 or by email at [email protected]