It’s never too early to start thinking about next year, especially with something that evolves as fast as social media.
To keep your funeral home marketing ahead of the curve, we’ve put together some industry insights on what to expect for social media in 2017. But before going forward, let’s look back. As funeral directors know, the past can be key to adapting toward the future.
2016 Social Media Summary
If you were to sum up the biggest social media change in 2016 in one word, it would be video.
Video took social by storm. Twitter increased its video length time, Facebook added the Facebook live feature (an easy tool for streaming live video to an enormous audience), and pretty much every other social media channel incorporated new or enhanced video features.
Now, a lot of these features admittedly don’t make much sense for a funeral home’s marketing strategy. It’s not like you’re going to be Snapchatting your casket or urn offerings.
But the reason video has grown so fast is because it engages audiences and humanizes businesses, two things that are crucial for any business. People like to buy from people they know, and video helps build that bridge.
The other big trends of 2016 included:
- Mobile users outnumbering desktop users
- Growth of the number of social media users in all age groups
- Greater levels of personalization in social media marketing
So what’s next? You don’t need a crystal ball to see the changes coming for social media marketing in 2017. A lot of the change will build off what we’ve seen in 2016, but with greater intensity.
To get the most out of social media, you’re going to need a good social media strategy. That means time, planning, and execution.
Gone are the days of sharing a post or two a week. To see positive results and grow your client family base, a detailed strategy is required. This means picking an effective channel to market on, researching your competition, and sending consistent, branded messaging that’s helpful to your families. (For more information, check out our free eBook about the basics of social media).
Video is Only the Beginning
2016 started to see video grow across all social media channels, but 2017 will be the year it’s perfected. People want immersive video experiences.
An article in Forbes stated that “people also are starting to demand social media as a conduit for more vicarious experiences. It’s no longer enough to post your sentiments about an event, you have to show your users what it’s like to be there. You can do this with things like live video, 360◦ images and video, and even just more real-time posting.”
For your funeral home, immersive video has several uses. It could mean webcasting a service to family members or friends across the country or showcasing your expertise by creating educational videos on topics that families might not be familiar with, like personalization options or burial options. It could also mean giving a 360◦ video tour of your facility or live streaming a holiday remembrance program or another community event you host.
The bottom line is that video will grow your funeral home’s client families and foster more meaningful relationships with them.
Social Media Marketing Automation
Above, we mentioned that a social strategy is needed. The good news is that 2017 will bring new and easier ways to automate your strategy — meaning it won’t take too much of your time.
Social media marketing automation tools (like HubSpot, Social Flow, or Sprout Social) are getting smarter. These apps can personalize your social media approach, save you time, grow your audience, and bring more potential client families to you.
Word-of-mouth marketing is the number one way to drive sales and build trust. You probably already know about the power of a family’s testimonials or recommendations. As the number of people using social media grows, so does their level of social influence. Everyone now has an audience, and for every follower your funeral home has, you have the potential to reach hundreds more.
That means it’s important to build a strong social media following that is as passionate about your services as you are. They will be more likely to share testimonials and recommendations to their social media circles.
Continued growth and engagement
Social media isn’t a passing trend. It’s become a part of life — if not changed our lives forever. And 2017 will see social media grow in new ways — with bigger audiences, more impactful interactions, and innovative content.
For funeral homes, a social media and online presence will continue to be a vital part of the business, and we think that’s a good thing. It means engaging families and building relationships long before families have a need for a funeral — and continuing to comfort them long after.
What are your thoughts on social media in 2017? Share with us in the comments!