I am in gorgeous Naples, Florida speaking to a group of funeral home directors and owners about social media and the new world of marketing. I didnt exactly have 100% buy-in and a couple of them got their cables in a knot when I said, “If done RIGHT, every business can benefit from the use of social media….even the funeral industry.”
This is an industry that in the past has been run primarily by Mom and Pop, who inherited the business from their parents, who inherited it from their parents and for generations these folks have been involved in their communities. They visit the senior centers, play BINGO with the neighbors and volunteer at the annual health fair. They advertise in the Yellow Pages and personal referrals are their main source of new business. A good marketing strategy, unless your future customers are not going to the Senior centers or joining you at BINGO nights, and they thought the Yellow Pages were just for helping short dinner guests reach the table.
Now there is something a bit odd about a funeral home asking you to LIKE their Facebook Page, or discovering the Undertaker is following you on Twitter. But IF DONE RIGHT any business can benefit and build a successful online community to AUGMENT the physical or face-to-face relationships. Here are my 3 tips for DOING SOCIAL RIGHT:
- Keep your ideal community in mind and provide content they would find helpful and interesting. In the case of a funeral home, going beyond the obituaries and providing hospice or elder care resources and guidelines for writing a will or moving your parents home with you would be great engaging content. Join hospice care groups on LinkedIn and source great content from twitter. If you are pet sitter or a karate school owner, what content or resources would your community be looking for? Keep them in mind as you post content on your social sites.
- Blend the old with the new. You do not throw out the relationship-building activities that have been working for you, and you don't ignore the new members who are busy connecting online. Be sure to add your social contact information on all traditional marketing pieces (brochures, business cards, presentation slides, stationary, thank you gifts and cards). Perhaps funeral homes can sponsor a SENIORS CONNECT class to have someone teach the seniors how to create a Facebook profile, so they can share recipes, oogle at grandbaby photos and write embarassing things on their kids' walls. If you own an adventure vacation or promotional products company, what old marketing efforts can you apply a new social sheen to?
- Lastly, don't take on too much too fast. Many businesses new to social media, think they must do it all and they create a blog, open an Twitter account, start inviting people to join their Facebook page, load an eight-year-old video clip onto YouTube, and jump into 25 groups on LinkedIn…the first week. After spending 22 hours a day trying to keep up with it all, they start considering life as an Alpaca Rancher in the outer skirts of Montana. Perhaps the first week, you create a Twitter account and find 10-20 people to connect with. The second week you start searching on Twitter to find keywords being used on Twitter. Afte a month, you might feel ready to take on setting up a Facebook Page or joining ONE LinkedIn Group and exploring how to contribute to this knowledge group. Plan on 30 minutes in the morning and 30 minutes in the afternoon. As your online community grows, you can shift more and more time from one group to the other.
So whether your current customers are using social media to stay connected or Mabels BINGO nights, you would be wise to start embracing this new world, before your business ends up in the casket.
What business have you been most surprised to find on Twitter, Facebook, other social sites?
Gina and her team of Alpaca ranchers can help you take on those dreaded daily tasks of managing your social platforms…Just give us a shout! 303-978-0887 or Gina@Synapse3di.com