What Happens When You Die Online

Different Social Media Sites Handle Deceased Members, Differently 

By Paul Konikowski, CTS-D

It happened again this week: someone died in my Facebook News Feed.

We have all been there, at least once before.  You get on Facebook for some simple shallow status updates, and BAM, you get hit instead with a stream of R.I.P.s, photos, and favorite memories of the recently deceased.  Suddenly, you post your own barrage of memories of your former classmate, coworker, neighbor, or friend.  Tears start to well up in your eyes, and you feel compelled to tell everyone in the room that someone you once knew, is now dead. Ignoring their sympathy, you forget everything else you were going to do that day, and scroll down to search to see who else knows and all other things people are saying online.

Over the next few days, the Facebook funeral procession continues to pay their respects on the deceased Timeline (yes, its ironic).  Special photo albums and/or Facebook events are created for the wake, funeral, and/or receptions.  Sometimes, a widowed spouse, or a friend, or family member will actually log into Facebook as the deceased person and send messages to their contacts.  This can be very helpful the first few days, but it soon feels creepy getting messages from a dead person.

So what are you supposed to do when someone dies on Facebook?  I don’t think Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg had thought that far ahead initially, but luckily Facebook has provided a Memorialization Request form where friends and family can basically tell Facebook that someone is dead.  Of course, if you request a memorial page, you will need “proof of death” from an online obituary; that could take a few days.

Facebook's Memorialization Request Form

When a Facebook profile is memorialized, the following changes take place:

  • The deceased friends are no longer notified of birthdays, and no longer see them in the “Suggestions”. (Your dead grandmother only has 9 friends, help her find friends?)
  • Only confirmed friends can see the profile or locate it in search.
  • Sensitive information such as contact information and status updates are removed.
  • No one is allowed to log into the account, but friends can still post memorial messages to the Timeline.

Linkedin handless the deceased profiles a bit differently: they simply close the account and remove the profile on your behalf.  To have a deceased profile removed, you will need to fill out this form with the member’s name, the company they worked at most recently, your relationship to them, and a link to their profile. It’s also very helpful if you can provide the member’s email address.

I tried to figure out what happens with your Google+ profile when you die, but the only thing I found out is that no one cares about Google+.

Twitter is somewhat like LinkedIn: either you are on Twitter, or you are deactivated. But unlike Facebook and LinkedIn, they ask for an awful lot more information to be mailed or faxed to them:

How to  deactivate a deceased account on Twitter

Ironically, they insist on using email to write you back after insisting you mail or fax them.  What happened to Tweets?

Twitter Email Policy

I am sure that most people’s Twitter profiles will live on a lot longer than they will. Even if you knew an online friend was dead, wouldn’t it feel wrong to “unfollow” them? Hmm, this gives me a sick and twisted idea….

With programs like Hootsuite and Tweetdeck, Twitter users can schedule tweets months in advance. If I was careful, I could easily continuing tweeting long after I am gone:

@PKaudiovisual: It’s getting kind of stuffy down here, can someone turn on a fan or something? #fmd


@PKaudiovisual: Hey YOU, yes, I am talking to YOU! How many times did I tell you not to do that!


@PKaudiovisual: Is someone feeding my fish? I can’t watch over all of you, all the time!

That would beat “he’s still living in our hearts” any day!  If I were you, I would expect Tweets, status updates, and blog posts from me long after my death.  But seriously, we will all live forever online, in digital photos, status updates, contact lists, and RSVPs to past events.

Now if you will excuse me, I need to go listen to my dead friend’s playlist on Spotify.


Battle Of The (Social) Sexes [INFOGRAPHIC]

How Men and Women Utilize Social Media

Big thanks to Allison Morris and InternetServiceProviders.org for submitting this awesome infographic.  Click here for the original.

Social Gender Infographic

Big thanks to Allison Morris and InternetServiceProviders.org for submitting this awesome infographic. Click here for the original.

Social Influence Marketing

You Can’t Make This Stuff Up

By Paul Konikowski, CTS-D

Last week, a young man who loves body art AND his Pioneer headphones decided to combine these two passions into one tattoo.  He instantly uploaded a photo to Pioneer’s Facebook Timeline (company profile):

Pioneer Headphone Tattoo
Photo courtesy of Tyler Patrick Clancy, who posted his photo to the Pioneer Facebook page

Within the first 17 hours, Tyler’s tattoo photo had received 87 Likes and 181 Shares.  Remember that each time you Like a photo or Share it to your page, it broadcasts to a portion of your Facebook friends and shows up in their New Feed and/or Notifications.  The more Likes, Share, and Comments a given photo gets on Facebook, the more likely it will show up in another’s News Feed.  Users can also adjust how they see Company Updates, as pictured below.

Facebook Interest Lists
How to add a Facebook Fan Page to your Interest Lists

Later that same day, the administrators of the Pioneer Facebook Company page were smart to repost the tattoo photo to their Timeline, which pulled another 1,350 Likes, 55 Comments, and 182 Shares.   All from 2 mouse clicks.

Pioneer did not pay this young man to get a tattoo, nor did they have to pay a photographer to take his photo.  They did not hire a Public Relations firm to put out a press release on a wire service.  They did not host a photo contest on Facebook for the craziest tattoo. They could have promoted this post or used Facebook Ads, but my guess is that they didn’t pay Facebook anything to promote this post.  The buzz was all generated purely from social influence.

But it does not mean that Pioneer’s social marketing team was not doing their jobs.  On the contrary, I would say they were “all over it”.  With over 328,000 Company Page Likes, their strong social community was ready, willing, and able to share Tyler’s new tattoo as soon as he uploaded it, spreading the Love Of Pioneer all over the audio web. Oooo weeee, sticky icky icky!

Traditional marketing efforts do not resonate on social networks as well as social influences and peer recommendations. For example, a stock photo of these same headphones would not be shared to the same extent.

New social media apps like Spotify have featured songs and suggested playlists based on a given user’s music tastes, but its far more likely that a user will check out what his or her friends have listened to before listening to a promoted track.  Users can send individual songs to friends, share them to their profiles, and create custom playlists (much like mix tapes back in the day) that can be followed or even setup for collaboration.  Recommendations and updates show up in a user’s Inbox, without having to send the actual song files around in emails, etc.  Artists and song writers collect royalties based on the number of plays.

Spotify Social Influence

A few months ago, I was invited to a collaborative Spotfiy playlist, where various Spotify users share “new” music with the group, usually on Fridays.  There is an accompanying secret Facebook Group so that collaborators can easily share comments about songs and artists.  This also utilizes the Facebook Notify function on smartphones to let other Group members know there are new songs added to the playlist.

Facebook Group

I can’t tell you how much I enjoy being part of this collaborative Spotify playlist, and how many new bands I have “discovered” from it. Although I only know two group members on a personal level, I prefer hearing “new” music from these group peers rather than commercial radio. I am not against radio, but most of the stations have been bought out by conglomerates who try to choose which music is going to be successful before it even gets airplay. If every radio station was still independently owned, we would have a lot more diversity in the music that we listen to, and a lot more faith in the station operators.

Imagine that: radio DJS that we could trust to introduce us to new music.  They should make an app for that.

Do you use Spotify or Facebook to Share music with your friends or followers?  Email me at pkav dot info at gmail dot com