Chapter 1: What Is Facebook?

By Bill A Johnston, Author of the Book "Why Facebook Works for Funeral Homes" Volume 2 Releasing October 2021

At the turn of the 21st century, just about everybody got the newspaper. Early in the morning, delivery people brought the paper to almost every house and apartment. Newsstands kept the papers ready for sale in huge stacks. Restaurants sold them for 25 cents a copy out of metal boxes found at their entryways. The boxes had see-through windows displaying that day’s cover and headlines. If you stayed in a three-star or better hotel, the paper would be dropped in front of your room’s door, usually hitting the floor with a thud that would wake you up. In many cities, there was also an afternoon edition of the paper.

The 2000-era newspapers were printed on larger-sized paper than you see today. And the papers were satisfyingly thick—especially the Sunday edition filled with great news content, special inserts, and lots of advertising. Yes, it seemed like everyone got the newspaper, everyone read the newspaper, then everyone recycled their newspapers because recycling was common in 2000. Indeed, newspapers were everywhere, and everyone thought of them as the local, advertising media of record.

Here’s a partial list of the many things you would typically find in a 2000-era newspaper—especially in a big, thick Sunday newspaper:

  • World and national news.
  • State and regional news.
  • Weather
  • Local news and stories of interest.
  • Pictures of local folks.
  • Opinions and editorials.
  • Wedding announcements and anniversaries.
  • Obituaries
  • Comics and other sections devoted to humor.
  • Puzzles.
  • Gossip.
  • Comics and other sections devoted to humor
  • Items for sale by readers.
  • Real estate ads.
  • And, most importantly, business advertising

2000 was Newspapers’ Peak Year

According to the Newspaper Association of America, the industry reached its sales peak around the year 2000, amassing $67 billion in advertising revenue in that year, but by 2014, ad sales had plummeted to $16.4 billion, reflecting a major loss of readers. That’s a 75% decrease in ad sales and, no doubt, sales and readership are down even further today. What was behind this amazing and dramatic decline, and why are today’s newspapers so small and thin? The availability of online news has contributed substantially to the circulation drop in printed news, and the ease of digital delivery has created strong new competition. However, the two milestones that played the most significant role in the newspaper’s decline and fall from the 2000-era are:

(1) The opening of Facebook to everyone aged 13 and older with a valid email address, on September 26, 2006.

(2) The invention of the iPhone/smartphone, which was Time magazine’s Invention of the Year in 2007.

Today, everybody seems to have their head buried in their phone. They’re calling or texting friends, reading content, listening to music, watching and making videos, taking and sharing pictures, playing games, and interacting with apps. According to ZDNet “Americans spend far more time on their smartphones than they think” by Eileen Brown for Social Business April 28, 2019, the average American spends 5.4 hours a day on their phone, and according to the same story, “Boomers” spend 60-minutes per day on Facebook and another 44-minutes a day on Instagram. Just for the record, Facebook owns Instagram.  

What is Facebook? Facebook is a free social networking website that makes it easy for users to connect and share with family and friends online. In addition to pictures and stories published by users, Facebook readers will also see:

  • World and national news.
  • State and regional news.
  • Weather
  • Local news and stories of interest.
  • Pictures of local folks.
  • Opinions and editorials.
  • Wedding announcements and anniversaries.
  •  Obituaries
  • Comics and other sections devoted to humor.
  • Puzzles
  • Gossip
  • Sports
  • Items for sale by readers.
  • Real estate ads.
  • And, most importantly, business advertising.

Note that the newspaper and Facebook lists are identical. People can access Facebook on various electronic devices. They can access it on their laptop and desktop computers and their tablets, but the most common delivery system is the smartphone, and everyone has a smartphone.

So here’s an important, key thought:

Facebook is the Newspaper

In the 2000-era of the newspaper, when it reached just about everyone, it was the indisputable leader in local media. Your funeral home may not have been happy with the cost of advertising or the costs to families who wanted their loved ones’ obituaries printed in the paper, but you had to admit the newspaper was incredibly powerful, effective, and convenient.

Wouldn’t it be great if you could advertise in a local media with the same kind of power, effectiveness, and convenience of the 2000-era newspaper, but at much less cost? Well, you can. It’s called Facebook.  By changing your perception of what Facebook is, and by discovering Facebook is the newspaper, it’s easier to imagine its role in your local advertising and that you’ll be able to reach thousands of people living around your funeral home every week. By advertising on Facebook in a certain way as described in this book, you can persuade, inform, and remind Facebook users how important your funeral home has been to the rich history of your community and how the people who work in your funeral home are passionately committed to providing valuable services to the families in your care.

Imagine your Facebook business page becoming the direct connection to the families you’ve served and the families you’ll someday serve.  By advertising in a certain way, publishing your obituaries, and telling powerful stories, over time you’ll have an advertising asset that’s liked by thousands, the kind of asset that used to belong to the corporate owners of newspapers—and now it will belong to your funeral home.

One of our clients, Dan Briggs, President of Davidson Funeral Home, Lexington, NC, expresses the concept perfectly when he says, “Facebook lets us be relevant in the communities we serve.”

The Lens I Want You to See Through While Reading This Book

If I were to ask fifty Funeral Directors to define “social media”, I believe I would get fifty different answers, and since Facebook is a social media, it momentarily complicates our premise that Facebook is the newspaper. That’s why I want you to read this book looking through the lens of “local advertising.” If I were to ask fifty Funeral Directors to define “local advertising” I would get the same answer.  It’s your local radio station, cable enterprise, TV station, billboard provider, and yes, local newspaper, or what’s left of it, so let’s agree. This is a book about local advertising, and the local advertising we’re talking about is advertising on Facebook.

A Few Words to Make Everything Easier to Understand

Going forward, I will refer to you—the owner, operator, manager, employee, or family member of a funeral home—as an “operator.”  Let’s also refer to the Facebook user as a “reader.” This term will be another way to remind you that Facebook is the newspaper.  

Two other words I will frequently use are “post” and “boost”, both of which just happen to be the name of my company. A “post” is what you create and post on your Facebook business page, just like you would create a note or an announcement on a piece of paper then “post” it where it can be seen, like on a bulletin board or public place. The best analogy I have found to help operators new to Facebook quickly understand the definition of a post is to think of a Facebook post like a postcard. All the elements of a postcard are also the elements of a Facebook post; a picture on the front, a note from the sender (copy), an address (who will see it), and a postage stamp to pay for the delivery from point A to point B. “Boost” is the money you pay Facebook to circulate or push your post into the newsfeed of Facebook readers who live around your funeral home.

What happens to a postcard without a stamp? It doesn’t get delivered. It goes nowhere, and that’s what happens to a post on your Facebook business page that is not boosted. Yes, according to reports on the Internet, about 5% of the people who “like” your business page could see it organically (that’s for free), but if the purpose of posting content on your Facebook business page is effective local advertising,  increasing market awareness, making your funeral home relevant, or growing your call volume, you are wasting valuable time and resources, and if there’s anything I’ve learned about operators like you in the funeral industry, time and resources are precious.

Key Thoughts from Chapter 1:

  1. Facebook is the newspaper. This metaphor will be used throughout the entire book.
  2. Boomers spend 60-minutes a day on Facebook, and another 44-minutes a day on Instagram. Facebook owns Instagram.
  3. By advertising on Facebook in a certain way, you can persuade, inform, and remind readers about your funeral home.
  4. Facebook gives operators the same kind of power, effectiveness, and convenience of the 2000-era newspaper, but at much less cost.
  5. Your Facebook business page can become a direct connection to families you have served, and families you will someday serve. By consistently and effectively advertising over a long period of time, you will own an advertising asset that used to belong to the newspaper but now it belongs to your funeral home.
  6. A “post” is like a postcard, and a postcard without a stamp goes nowhere.
  7. According to reports on the Internet, only 5% of the people who “like” your business page will organically (for “free”) see a post that is not boosted, and that is not enough if the purpose of posting content is effective local advertising, increasing market awareness, making your funeral home relevant, or growing your call volume

At the turn of the 21st century, just about everybody got the newspaper. Early in the morning, delivery people brought the paper to almost every house and apartment. Newsstands kept the papers ready for sale in huge stacks. Restaurants sold them for 25 cents a copy out of metal boxes found at their entryways. The boxes had see-through windows displaying that day’s cover and headlines. If you stayed in a three-star or better hotel, the paper would be dropped in front of your room’s door, usually hitting the floor with a thud that would wake you up. In many cities, there was also an afternoon edition of the paper.

The 2000-era newspapers were printed on larger-sized paper than you see today. And the papers were satisfyingly thick—especially the Sunday edition filled with great news content, special inserts, and lots of advertising. Yes, it seemed like everyone got the newspaper, everyone read the newspaper, then everyone recycled their newspapers because recycling was common in 2000. Indeed, newspapers were everywhere, and everyone thought of them as the local, advertising media of record.

Here’s a partial list of the many things you would typically find in a 2000-era newspaper—especially in a big, thick Sunday newspaper:

  • World and national news.
  • State and regional news.
  • Weather
  • Local news and stories of interest.
  • Pictures of local folks.
  • Opinions and editorials.
  • Wedding announcements and anniversaries.
  • Obituaries
  • Comics and other sections devoted to humor.
  • Puzzles.
  • Gossip.
  • Comics and other sections devoted to humor
  • Items for sale by readers.
  • Real estate ads.
  • And, most importantly, business advertising

2000 was Newspapers’ Peak Year

According to the Newspaper Association of America, the industry reached its sales peak around the year 2000, amassing $67 billion in advertising revenue in that year, but by 2014, ad sales had plummeted to $16.4 billion, reflecting a major loss of readers. That’s a 75% decrease in ad sales and, no doubt, sales and readership are down even further today. What was behind this amazing and dramatic decline, and why are today’s newspapers so small and thin? The availability of online news has contributed substantially to the circulation drop in printed news, and the ease of digital delivery has created strong new competition. However, the two milestones that played the most significant role in the newspaper’s decline and fall from the 2000-era are:

(1) The opening of Facebook to everyone aged 13 and older with a valid email address, on September 26, 2006.

(2) The invention of the iPhone/smartphone, which was Time magazine’s Invention of the Year in 2007.

Today, everybody seems to have their head buried in their phone. They’re calling or texting friends, reading content, listening to music, watching and making videos, taking and sharing pictures, playing games, and interacting with apps. According to ZDNet “Americans spend far more time on their smartphones than they think” by Eileen Brown for Social Business April 28, 2019, the average American spends 5.4 hours a day on their phone, and according to the same story, “Boomers” spend 60-minutes per day on Facebook and another 44-minutes a day on Instagram. Just for the record, Facebook owns Instagram.  

What is Facebook? Facebook is a free social networking website that makes it easy for users to connect and share with family and friends online. In addition to pictures and stories published by users, Facebook readers will also see:

  • World and national news.
  • State and regional news.
  • Weather
  • Local news and stories of interest.
  • Pictures of local folks.
  • Opinions and editorials.
  • Wedding announcements and anniversaries.
  •  Obituaries
  • Comics and other sections devoted to humor.
  • Puzzles
  • Gossip
  • Sports
  • Items for sale by readers.
  • Real estate ads.
  • And, most importantly, business advertising.

Note that the newspaper and Facebook lists are identical. People can access Facebook on various electronic devices. They can access it on their laptop and desktop computers and their tablets, but the most common delivery system is the smartphone, and everyone has a smartphone.

So here’s an important, key thought:

Facebook is the Newspaper

In the 2000-era of the newspaper, when it reached just about everyone, it was the indisputable leader in local media. Your funeral home may not have been happy with the cost of advertising or the costs to families who wanted their loved ones’ obituaries printed in the paper, but you had to admit the newspaper was incredibly powerful, effective, and convenient.

Wouldn’t it be great if you could advertise in a local media with the same kind of power, effectiveness, and convenience of the 2000-era newspaper, but at much less cost? Well, you can. It’s called Facebook.  By changing your perception of what Facebook is, and by discovering Facebook is the newspaper, it’s easier to imagine its role in your local advertising and that you’ll be able to reach thousands of people living around your funeral home every week. By advertising on Facebook in a certain way as described in this book, you can persuade, inform, and remind Facebook users how important your funeral home has been to the rich history of your community and how the people who work in your funeral home are passionately committed to providing valuable services to the families in your care.

Imagine your Facebook business page becoming the direct connection to the families you’ve served and the families you’ll someday serve.  By advertising in a certain way, publishing your obituaries, and telling powerful stories, over time you’ll have an advertising asset that’s liked by thousands, the kind of asset that used to belong to the corporate owners of newspapers—and now it will belong to your funeral home.

One of our clients, Dan Briggs, President of Davidson Funeral Home, Lexington, NC, expresses the concept perfectly when he says, “Facebook lets us be relevant in the communities we serve.”

The Lens I Want You to See Through While Reading This Book

If I were to ask fifty Funeral Directors to define “social media”, I believe I would get fifty different answers, and since Facebook is a social media, it momentarily complicates our premise that Facebook is the newspaper. That’s why I want you to read this book looking through the lens of “local advertising.” If I were to ask fifty Funeral Directors to define “local advertising” I would get the same answer.  It’s your local radio station, cable enterprise, TV station, billboard provider, and yes, local newspaper, or what’s left of it, so let’s agree. This is a book about local advertising, and the local advertising we’re talking about is advertising on Facebook.

A Few Words to Make Everything Easier to Understand

Going forward, I will refer to you—the owner, operator, manager, employee, or family member of a funeral home—as an “operator.” This term will be another way to remind you that Facebook is the newspaper.  

Two other words I will frequently use are “post” and “boost”, both of which just happen to be the name of my company. A “post” is what you create and post on your Facebook business page, just like you would create a note or an announcement on a piece of paper then “post” it where it can be seen, like on a bulletin board or public place. The best analogy I have found to help operators new to Facebook quickly understand the definition of a post is to think of a Facebook post like a postcard. All the elements of a postcard are also the elements of a Facebook post; a picture on the front, a note from the sender (copy), an address (who will see it), and a postage stamp to pay for the delivery from point A to point B. “Boost” is the money you pay Facebook to circulate or push your post into the newsfeed of Facebook readers who live around your funeral home.

What happens to a postcard without a stamp? It doesn’t get delivered. It goes nowhere, and that’s what happens to a post on your Facebook business page that is not boosted. Yes, according to reports on the Internet, about 5% of the people who “like” your business page could see it organically (that’s for free), but if the purpose of posting content on your Facebook business page is effective local advertising,  increasing market awareness, making your funeral home relevant, or growing your call volume, you are wasting valuable time and resources, and if there’s anything I’ve learned about operators like you in the funeral industry, time and resources are precious.

Key Thoughts from Chapter 1:

  1. Facebook is the newspaper. This metaphor will be used throughout the entire book.
  2. Boomers spend 60-minutes a day on Facebook, and another 44-minutes on Instagram. Facebook owns Instagram.
  3. By advertising on Facebook in a certain way, you can persuade, inform, and remind readers about your funeral home.
  4. Facebook gives operators the same kind of power, effectiveness, and convenience of the 2000-era newspaper, but at much less cost.
  5. Your Facebook business page can become a direct connection to families you have served, and families you will someday serve. By consistently and effectively advertising over a long period of time, you will own an advertising asset that used to belong to the newspaper but now it belongs to your funeral home.
  6. A “post” is like a postcard, and a postcard without a stamp goes nowhere.
  7. According to reports on the Internet, only 5% of the people who “like” your business page will organically (for “free”) see a post that is not boosted, and that is not enough if the purpose of posting content is effective local advertising, increasing market awareness, making your funeral home relevant, or growing your call volume

Meet With Bill Online!

For more than 5-years, Bill A Johnston has been creating and building a powerful, market-exclusive service for Funeral Homes on Facebook. Now Bill can work for your Funeral Home! With Post and Boost:

  1. We advertise what’s unique about your Funeral Home, and that’s your people.
  2. All of our posts are custom. That’s because all our clients are different.
  3. We boost every post. Only 5% of the users who like a page actually see un-boosted posts. By boosting every post you reach 1,000’s of people who live around your Funeral Home.
  4. We monitor your page daily, grow page likes, and hide bad actors.