What’s Next for Funeral Home Marketing? Attention is the Game, Instagram is the Arena

Here is a question I’m asked on the regular. It never fails. At every keynote presentation I give, participants say, "Hey, you guys talk heavily about Facebook: how to build a presence on Facebook, how to create content for funeral home businesses and how to drive Facebook engagement. What comes next?"

I’m always surprised when funeral directors ask, “What’s next?” when many of them haven’t even bought into what’s now (Facebook), but at least I’ve got people thinking.

So, what is next for funeral homes? Outside of Facebook, what else should be included in the social media discussion?

I believe it's Instagram. We see younger consumers utilizing other platforms like Snapchat while migrating a little bit from Facebook, but not the demographic funeral homes are serving. The 45-year-old plus demographic is still heavily invested in Facebook, and now they are also noticing Instagram.

Instagram is all about attention. That's the reason Facebook purchased it. Facebook understands there's value in our (the consumer’s) loyalty, what we pay attention to and how we engage around that. They understand our engagement leads to sales. Wise funeral professionals also understand getting attention is the game, and the value proposition of the consumer’s attention is the leverage that leads to sales (preneed and at-need).

If you think about the way Instagram is used, it's all mobile. It's all in the palm of your hand, and you scroll through it a little bit slower than you scroll through Facebook. Only one post at a time is visible on the screen. It's highly visual, and video content in Instagram can play for 60 seconds. There is extreme value in someone spending three seconds focused on your brand, and even more value in 60 seconds.

The thing that's great about 60-second video is that users know when they hit "play" on a video in Instagram, they will only need to pause for a maximum of 60 seconds. So, typically, they will give their full attention for that entire 60 seconds. There isn't another platform out there, other than Snapchat, that can match this undivided individual attention.

The people at Facebook have prioritized video because they understand that the more you (the consumer) watch videos, the more attention you're giving to the platform and the more attention you're giving to the content. But with video content on Facebook, you don't necessarily know the length of the video... or do you? Maybe you look at the "DISRUPTu!" show in your feed and think, "Ten minutes. I don't have 10 minutes right now." So you watch 30 or 40 seconds, come back to it later and watch it all from start to finish. Or maybe you only watch bits and pieces or fast-forward to the part you want to see.

Instagram is different. You can't skim through a video any faster, and you know it's only going to be 60 seconds, so you give it your undivided attention. Businesses, including funeral homes, can win on Instagram by capturing the undivided attention of their viewers for 60 seconds. For most people, 60 seconds is a long time, so being able to capture that attention builds trust as well. But the real kicker here is the attention – it doesn’t matter if it is three seconds of attention on a great visual post or 60 seconds on a powerful video post – it’s all valuable. Attention is the game. Get it?

To win you need attention and trust. It's a circle. Attention and trust feed each other, and without one, you don't get the other. You've got to be able to capture attention, but you also need your audience to trust you. The marketing element that the funeral profession has been terribly lacking is the ability to build trust. Much of the messaging consumers are exposed to about funeral service is negative. Being able to capture somebody's attention while building trust is extremely valuable when it comes to engaging the consumer and securing business for now and for the future.

Your funeral home marketing needs to be focused in places where consumers, your customers, are giving their attention at scale. Instagram is a completely attention-driven network, and that holds a lot of value. A key demographic for funeral homes is starting to scale very quickly on Instagram. Women aged 45 to 65 make up a large demographic on Facebook, and now they are beginning to turn their attention to Instagram.

What's next? It's absolutely Instagram. Attention is the game and Instagram is the arena.

Ryan Thogmartin is a death care entrepreneur, the CEO of DISRUPT Media and creator of ConnectingDirectors.com. He hosts the webshows DISRUPTu!, FUNERAL Hustle and FUNERAL Nation TV.

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