You're online, but are you listening?

Your funeral home has a website. You are online and are setup in a way that if people look for you or your services, they can find you. Good work. You are now half-way done.

Part of the glory of the internet is that it is one big social gathering place. People share ideas, reviews, recommendations, complaints, friendships, hardships, and everything else within their social groups. In short, conversations are happening online and growing at a rapid pace. Are you participating in these conversations or ignoring them?

In some cases, these conversations could be about you, about your services, or potentially services you could offer. Do you want to know? Do you want to engage these people?

If you don't, you willfully pass on the opportunity to help and generate potential for business.

Let's say I'm on LinkedIn (a professional social networking site), and run a search for "funeral director". The results I get back will show a list of funeral directors but will also show if I have connections to those funeral directors. I can then ask my connections to introduce me or for a review of their experience. So connecting to more people and being able to offer expertise give you the opportunity to converse with someone who is directly looking for what you do.

Perhaps I'm on Twitter and I tweet (not my term) about how poor the service was at the funeral I just attended. I suspect in most cases, funeral homes would ignore a comment like this. But this is a golden opportunity to engage in conversation and address the issue. If you could converse with me, in the platform I selected, and helped me likely you would have a loyal client. At the minimum, you would have a public record of how you tried to make the situation better.

Take the complete other end of the spectrum. Suppose you have many families that are extremely pleased with your services. Facebook allows you to set up fan pages where Facebook members can converse with each other online specifically about you. You can send messages to these fans about upcoming events or important announcements. This is a controlled location designed to prompt the kind of conversation you're looking for.

In all of these situations, people are talking on the web about a topic important to them. If you participate in the conversation you have the chance to interact, help, educate, and be relevant. If you chose not to participate, it doesn't mean the conversation isn't happening. It just means you aren't listening.