I have been working in digital marketing and social media for my entire career, and with that, I have seen some major mistakes that businesses and brands have made in their approach to marketing (I’m looking at you, Pepsi). There are no foolproof instructions when it comes to marketing and even less when it comes to managing a social media profile, and that unbridled creativity can be intimidating. One small misstep can lead to a surprising amount of backlash that many brands are not prepared to handle. That being said, social media isn’t as scary as it seems. When used properly, a strong funeral home social media presence can help bolster your brand and attract new customers. Discover how you can avoid these common mistakes that businesses make on social media.
1. They Don’t Stick with It
It’s great when funeral professionals take time to set up social media profiles for their businesses. Social media is an integral part of any marketing strategy. However, the act of just creating a profile will not benefit your firm. Like accounting and other business-related tasks, social media requires daily, one-on-one attention from you.
How to Fix It: There are two ways your firm can keep up with the attention a social media platform requires. The first option is a do-it-yourself approach. Identify the person (or people) on staff who will be responsible for actively running your social media activities and measuring their effectiveness. Encourage them to schedule about 15 minutes every morning to update something on your firm’s social platforms. However, make sure that you have one leader who will approve all posts before they are scheduled. This “point person” should know what’s happening online at all times to avoid double posting or over posting.
The second option is to partner with an agency that will manage all of your social media needs on your behalf. In this case, it’s important to find a vendor that is knowledgeable about funeral service and won’t convolute your firm’s message. DISRUPT Media is one of the most well known funeral service social media agencies around today, and they have a proven track record of effectively leveraging social media while helping funeral homes navigate potential PR minefields.
2. They Try to Manage Multiple Platforms (at the Same Time)
There are probably more social media sites around the world than anyone could take time to count. Funeral homes and other small businesses often make the mistake of trying to join all of the popular social media sites thinking that being everywhere will boost their visibility. The issue here brings us back to the prior point: social media requires daily attention. Unless you have a dedicated, full-time communications employee, most people don’t have time to manage more than one or two platforms.
How to Fix It: Pick the social media site that will deliver the best results for your firm, and stick with it. Not sure what each platform is used for? Take a look at the top common social media marketing platforms and the brands that use them best.
- Facebook: best for storytelling, sharing images and videos, as well as linking to content, like blogs, on your funeral home’s website. This is the most recommended platform for funeral home businesses, and also the most effective first step into social media. Funeral professionals have found success sharing content like obituaries and end-of-life resources, as well as information for caregivers and news from professional associations. Check out Disney, Oreo and Mercedes-Benz for inspiration.
- Twitter: best for newsworthy and time-sensitive information. The platform is less image-oriented than Facebook, but still very video-driven. It can be used to link to content on your site that is timely. Twitter is also great for connecting with local businesses and organizations by using its tagging feature. Plus, funeral professionals can join appropriate conversations using trending hashtags (#) in their Tweets. Take a look at Major League Baseball, Charmin and DiGiorno Pizza.
- Instagram: best for creatively sharing visual content like images and video. It’s not used for driving traffic back to your site. This platform is better for brands that have merchandise they are selling or creating or those who are willing to share behind-the-scenes information. Discover why Instagram may be the next big social media platform for funeral professionals in this guest blog. Practical uses of Instagram for funeral professionals are photos and videos of staff, the funeral home’s grounds, and community and organizational events. Discover Staples, Sharpie and The Honest Company.
- Snapchat: best for creatively sharing in-the-moment photos and videos that can be edited with digital stickers, text and filters. Great for brands that are visual, have merchandise or specialize in activities. Funeral professionals can use Snapchat to showcase events that they host, interview staff and give audiences a behind the scenes look at the funeral home. Download the Snapchat app and check out NASA (nasa), Bustle (bustledotcom) and DJ Khaled (djkhaled305).
- Pinterest: best for sharing projects, experiences, skills, how-tos and lifestyle-oriented information. However, this platform is just a place to store images with links associated with them. You need a website with relevant images to direct people back to content. If your website has great content, like blogs on different types of services you offer, your firm’s history, and tips on planning a funeral, all of that content can be shared on Pinterest. More recently, Pinterest has also developed into a powerful search engine. Companies like Kraft Recipes, The Today Show and Lowe’s use this platform effectively.
- YouTube: best for sharing videos, of any length. This platform also gives you the ability to include links in your description to guide people back to your site. Works for sharing well-planned and informative video content. Plus, you can also repurpose video from other platforms on this site, or vice versa. Check out brands like GoPro, League of Legends and Dove.
3. They Post One Message on Multiple Platforms
If you do happen to have more than one social media profile, resist the urge to use a third party software that posts the same content on multiple sites. Yes, it seems like the less time consuming option, but it will negatively affect engagement with your posts.
For example, a great long-form post (meaning lots of text) on Facebook with an image and an embedded link leading to your website will get wonderful engagement, but only on Facebook. If you use a third party software that pushes that post on to Twitter, you will more than likely get zero engagement. Why? Because Twitter has a much shorter character count and attention span than Facebook. Since your original post had more than 140 characters in it (Twitter’s max character count), some third party platforms will cut the post off mid-sentence, completely ruining the point you were attempting to make. Plus, Facebook links are long and can look a lot like spam, which will deter your Twitter followers from trusting you or clicking on the link.
How to Fix It: If you are so pressed for time that you need to resort to automated software to help you, you are using too many social media platforms. Scale back and focus your attention on a site that will benefit you the most, like Facebook.
4. They Don’t Respond to Complaints
Internet culture has created a world where customers are no longer afraid of lodging complaints when they can hide behind their device’s screen. A member of a client family who had a bad experience with their loved one’s service, whether it was your fault or not, can easily jump on your Facebook page and leave an angry post or comment. Everyone on the Internet can see their complaint, and these negative interactions can have an impact on your brand. Consider the following example:
In March 2017, the restaurant chain Cracker Barrel came under fire after a man named Brad posted on the restaurant’s corporate Facebook page asking why they had fired his wife. Typical of the Internet, the situation was blown out of proportion and reached levels of infamy in less than a week. According to AdWeek, during the six days the story exploded online, 90% of Cracker Barrel’s online engagement surrounded this topic. The situation lead to the creation of hashtags, memes, comments, tweets, news stories and even a Change.org petition to get Brad’s wife’s job back. Imagine the impact a similar situation could have on your funeral home business.
How to Fix It: According to a blog from Marketing Land, there are several steps you can take to calm a negative social media storm. First, be human. If someone has posted on your Facebook page that they are upset with a service you provided, reply and ask them to privately message, email or call you so you can address their concerns directly and reach a satisfactory resolution. Not only will you be able to help them, but you will also indicate to your followers that you are responsive to their concerns.
In some cases, however, people can become so wrapped up in their anger that their true goal is to make your business look bad. In instances like that, you may feel inclined to use Facebook’s “Hide Comment” feature, but proceed with caution. Negative comments can turn into opportunities to demonstrate customer service and willingness to ensure your families’ satisfaction. It’s tempting to use the “hide” feature, but consumers value transparency in the companies they do business with (plus, there are plenty of other places they can post negative comments you can’t hide). Instead use your response to show you take feedback seriously.
Social media gives a huge opportunity to funeral professionals to increase their marketing power in a simple, yet effective, way. By following these simple steps, you can help you firm stay in the clear of any issues and use social media to its fullest potential.