Social Networks and funeral service

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					Reaching Your Community Via the Internet              2009 Funeral Directors Convention and Expo

         Social Networks and funeral service
                                                                          My To Do List
       Social Networks are where friends connect
                                                                       Action: I need to...

___________     _________        ___________   ___________

      Social Networks are also where friends grieve

                                                                       URLs to Check Out


11,096 members of this “Group”          2330 Condolences
9 memorial videos uploaded              92 photos uploaded
                                                                       Questions for Hepp

Notes: _________________________________________________





_______________________________________________________ Robin Heppell, CFSP                                          Page 1 of 8
Reaching Your Community Via the Internet                          2009 Funeral Directors Convention and Expo

                       Letter to bereaved families

Note to Funeral Directors: This letter can be used to inform families about MySpace and Facebook. Please feel
free to use it or edit it to your liking when assisting your families.

To the Families we serve:

During this time of the sudden loss of your child, we are here to support you and your family and also to assist
you in creating a meaningful and personalized tribute for your son or daughter.

Recently we have found that many young people belong to Internet social communities such as MySpace or

Maybe your child was a member of one these Internet services – called Social Networks. They allow users to
share their thoughts and interests and also connect with current and old friends and meet new ones. When
someone who belongs to one of these online communities dies, their profile turns into an online memorial web
page where their friends express their sympathies and condolences. These impromptu memorial sites can be a
source of some comfort as many memories are shared here. Families sometimes find hope, encouragement, and
the discovery of the impact that their child had on the lives of others.

As well as being a source of support, these profiles can assist in creating very meaningful funeral services. These
profiles usually list favorite music, films, TV shows, books and even heroes – all information that can be
incorporated into a personalized tribute service.

We would like to caution you as these profiles sometimes can be a little surprising; users as able to express
themselves in whatever manner they wish to. Besides misspelled words, poor grammar and abbreviations, one
may see profanity, suggestive photographs, and an uncensored glimpse into the personal lives of these young
adults. We suggest that you may want to have another family member or close friend first review your son or
daughter’s profile and then go through it with you.

At this very difficult time, we realize that there is information coming to you from many directions and it may be
difficult to absorb it all. We feel that it is our role to provide you with pertinent information and advise you how
it may be used for the funeral and in the grieving process. I hope that this explanation has been helpful and
please let me know if you need any further information about these online social networks or anything else about
the funeral service.

Your local funeral director

PS: A word of caution: There are other websites such as MyDeathSpace that chronicle the deaths of MySpace
users. These new profiles are created when other users inform the website that someone has died. We are not
promoting these sites but rather informing you that they exist. These sites get mixed reactions and if a profile of
your son or daughter is created on one of these sites, you may choose to leave it on the website or you can
request to have it removed. Robin Heppell, CFSP                                                             Page 2 of 8
Reaching Your Community Via the Internet            2009 Funeral Directors Convention and Expo

 How to make Social Networks work for you
                                                                         My To Do List

                                                                      Action: I need to...
Social Network
                                                                 ___ Create a Facebook profile
   •   Keep ‘top-of-mind’ with friends                           ___ Search for friends / peers
   •   Search job applicants                                     ___ Add Robin Heppell to
   •   Assist families to post events / videos                          friends
   •   Create groups for committees / events
                                                                 ___ Create a LinkedIn profile
                                                                 ___ Search for friends / peers
                                                                 ___ Add Robin Heppell to
Business Network                                                        your network

   •   Connect with colleagues around the country
                                                                 ___ Create a Twitter account
   •   Connect with leaders in your community
                                                                 ___ Search & Follow Locals
   •   Background checks for job applicants
                                                                 ___ Create Obit account / feed
   •   People can find you

Micro Blog                                                           URLs to Check Out
   •   Follow local businesses and media
   •   Give company a personality                                   
   •   Become the source of useful information
   •   Have a separate Obit account / feed

                                                                     Questions for Hepp
Notes: _________________________________________________





_______________________________________________________ Robin Heppell, CFSP                                             Page 3 of 8
Reaching Your Community Via the Internet                  2009 Funeral Directors Convention and Expo

                               The written word
                                                                              My To Do List
Building relationships with the written word:
  • Blogs: easily write and publish content to your                        Action: I need to...
      website / Internet (content could include articles,
      news releases, helpful tips, FAQs)
  • RSS: (Really Simple Syndication) allows readers to
      subscribe to online content (through a feed) that
      gets delivered to their desktop (bypasses filters )
  • Auto responder: automatically responds to emails
      & can send out sequential emails (campaigns) as
      well as broadcasts to those that have opted-in
  • Newsletter: basically the same as a broadcast - you                    URLs to Check Out
      can create specific content for it or it can            
      automatically gather X number of blog entries &         
      put them into a newsletter that is sent by email
         • Called “RSS to Email”
  • Email: still the most popular form of
      communicating via the Internet

Just an example of Death Care applications:
   • eNewsletters
          o Newsletter content: comfort food recipes, digital
             photography tips, estate planning, food gift baskets,
                                                                           Questions for Hepp
             funeral FAQs, funeral pre-planning, gardening tips,
             genealogy, motorized scooters, scrap booking
   • Personalized, automated emails
   • “Ask the Director”

Notes: _________________________________________________



_______________________________________________________ Robin Heppell, CFSP                                              Page 4 of 8
Reaching Your Community Via the Internet                        2009 Funeral Directors Convention and Expo

     Upload your welcome message to youtube

To gain more exposure for your funeral home or            instead of explaining your history – you can include the
cemetery, take advantage of uploading a welcome           history part in your video. US firms place your zip code
video to YouTube. Currently YouTube is the third          in the description as well as the zips of heavily
most popular website on the Internet and now              populated areas and of smaller communities that you
Google – the most popular search engine –                 want to serve.
incorporates YouTube videos in its search results.
The objective of this tutorial is to explain how to Welcome to
choose the words that will help you get the best          Your Funeral Chapel in Springfield, Illinois, 62702. Our
rankings in Google for your welcome message.              funeral home offers funeral and memorial services with
Below is the window that you have to fill out to          burial or cremation. We serve all areas in Greater
describe your video.                                      Springfield including Chatham, Rochester, Riverton,
                                                          Sherman, and New Berlin. 62701, 62703, 62704, 62629,
Title:                                                    62563, 62684.
In the Title field, it is more important to have the
terms ‘Funeral Home’ ‘Mortuary’ or ‘Cemetery’             Tags:
before your company name. I would place your              Use relevant key words, the same main ones that you
‘City’ and ‘State / Province’ before your firm’s name     have used in your Title and your Description. You have
as well. The reason for this is that the search engines   up to 120 characters including spaces to list your tags–
place more importance on words in the beginning of        use all of them. US firms, include your Zip Code
the field and also most people are going to be            (around surrounding zip codes).
searching for “Funeral Homes in Springfield, IL” and      Example: Funeral Home Springfield Illinois IL 62702
not particularly your Firm’s Name. Use up to 60           Memorial Celebration Mortuary Cremation Planning
characters including spaces.                              Cemetery Burial Plot 62701
Example: Funeral Homes in Springfield, IL | Your
Funeral Chapel | 62702                                    Make sure to use the many resources that YouTube
                                                          offers: the Help Center and Video Toolbox are
Description:                                              extremely helpful. I look forward to seeing your
Place your URL immediately at the beginning of the        smiling face on YouTube - send me the link once it is
description including the http:// so it would look        up!
like: The rest
of the description should state who you are, where
you are, and what you do. When writing the
description, try to use words that people would use
when searching for a funeral home or cemetery. Put
more emphasis on types of services you offer Robin Heppell, CFSP                                                          Page 5 of 8
Reaching Your Community Via the Internet           2009 Funeral Directors Convention and Expo

      How to use video to promote your firm

Various applications and subject matter:                               My To Do List
  • Welcome Message: simply read the welcome
     message on your home page and record it                        Action: I need to...
  • Sample Memorial Video: most funeral homes have
     a sample video tribute – as long as there are no
     copyright issues with music or photos – you can
     upload it to the various video sites plus your own
  • Infomercials: 30 second elevator speech or a 3
     minute mini infomercial can help show prospects
     why you are different than the competition
  • Testimonials: funeral homes have binders in their
     foyers with letters & cards of thanks – just recite &         URLs to Check Out
     record the letter and then put images with it       
  • TV Commercials: get some extra use of those        
     expensive TV spots & video production             
  • Frequently Asked Questions: again, read the FAQs
     from your website and record them

How can you create videos?
  • Use the same software / service that you use for
     your Video Tributes
  • Windows Movie Maker + Audacity

                                                                    Questions for Hepp
   • More advanced options:
       o Sony Vegas
       o Adobe Premiere Elements

Notes: _________________________________________________


_______________________________________________________ Robin Heppell, CFSP                                       Page 6 of 8
Reaching Your Community Via the Internet          2009 Funeral Directors Convention and Expo

                    Video Promo tips & Tricks

   1. Create 2 versions: in house & 3rd party                         My To Do List
      • In house: (on your website) doesn’t have as
         much promo                                                Action: I need to...
      • Third Party: (used for other sites like YouTube,
         Google Video, etc.)
   2. Create an opening title screen with firm’s name &
      website URL
   3. “Bottom 1/3” - have name or URL, etc.
   4. Extend final screen image with contact info
   5. Prepare your ‘titles, descriptions & tags’
      • Keyword Research: commonly searched terms
   6. Upload to: YouTube + Google Video + (Social                  URLs to Check Out
      • Upload Services:                               
             o TubeMogul (10+)                        
             o Traffic Geyser (35+)                    
   7. Secret Tip:                                     
      • From your website link to these videos on the
         3rd party sites
      • Bookmark the videos with Social Bookmarking
         services (Digg, Technorati,
      • Get friends to do the same
                                                                   Questions for Hepp

Notes: _________________________________________________




_______________________________________________________ Robin Heppell, CFSP                                      Page 7 of 8
Reaching Your Community Via the Internet                          2009 Funeral Directors Convention and Expo

     Who is HePp & what is a Funeral Futurist?
This is a question that is posed to me often - and not only   school teacher and still- practicing educator of life.
by funeral directors and cemeterians, but even by friends     Through my website and blog, I try
and family. My poor parents - they get the same question      to pass on information to funeral professionals in one way
but they can’t really give a definitive answer.               or another to assist them in providing the most
                                                              meaningful services possible. Realizing that I don’t have
I believe the answer is simple; I am a consultant that        all of the information, I created
helps funeral homes and cemeteries in the areas of            website. This is a site where Funeral Directors can offer
applying proactive & competitive strategies and using         their insight to their peers as well as to the public. For the
funeral-related technologies. This may still sound vague,     longest time we as funeral professionals, have allowed
so to help clarify this it may be better to pose the          outsiders to tell our story. Now it is time that we publish
question, “How can Hepp help?”                                the authorized edition of Funeral Service in the 21st
                                                              century because we wrote it!
If you are concerned with price shoppers, discount
providers, rising cremation and low funeral averages - I       My other teaching efforts come in the form of public
can help! I have practical experience in a highly             speaking engagements and instructing licensure students.
competitive, high cremation (now 90%) memorial society        This allows me to stay connected with others in funeral
infested stricken market that is coupled with my formal       service, from varying stages in their careers and from all
business education in entrepreneurial management. With        areas of North America. In these educational settings, it is
this background, I can help you avoid some of the pitfalls    my hope that my message is the mirror of my deep-rooted
as consumers in your community change. We know that           belief in the funeral service soul. In return, I receive
families are becoming less traditional and more price         insights that I may never have thought of or had
conscious. I can help you become more competitive and         experienced. These insights allow me to continue to be a
more profitable.                                              student of funeral service.

For those of you who want advice on how to achieve a           “What was it like working in
greater Internet presence or to get more out of your          a market that is highly
website but are unsure whose best interests your web          competitive and with very
developer has in mind - I can help! I can provide you         high cremation?”
with an unbiased analysis and strategy to take your online    Unofficially, it is my
presence to the next level.                                   University of Funeral
                                                              Service where I have been
This expertise comes from 10 years of initially developing    enrolled for over 20 years. “Dean” David A. McCall was
and latterly strategically planning many funeral home         been very patient with his radical pupil, putting up with
and cemetery websites plus continually monitoring             challenging questions and crazy ideas. I am grateful to
statistics and implementing the latest “new media”            Dave for the slack leash and for providing such a place to
strategies such as Blogs, Podcasts, and You Tube. All with    practice my chosen profession. Even though my time at
the ultimate goal of having the greatest web presence and     McCall Bros. has ended, we still meet on a regular basis
highest search rankings in your market as well as             for brain storming sessions to keep both of us on our toes.
harnessing the greatest supply of preneed leads of the
future.                                                       I hope this explanation of my passion for, commitment to,
                                                              and legacy in funeral service provides you with the
                              “I hear your name in many       answer of “What does Hepp do?” My wish is that you ask
                             different circles; you must do   the question, “How can Hepp help me?” and I will
                             more than consulting.” I also    guarantee that together we can take your funeral home to
                             see myself as an educator - I    the next level. Thank you for taking the time to listen to
                             guess I get that from my dad,    my story and thank you for your passion for funeral
                             Tom, a retired elementary        service. I look forward to seeing you in our travels or
                                                              through the Internet! Serve well! Robin Heppell, CFSP                                                                  Page 8 of 8

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