For businesses of all kinds, “social media” is the must-have marketing buzzword that’s been tossed around a great deal the last couple of years—and for good reason. But is it relevant for a storage facility?
Of course, and here’s why.
The majority of your customers use at least one major social media platform (Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, etc.) and quite often two or more, so a social media presence gives you the opportunity to get in front of them and encourage engagement with your brand. Social media users usually devote at least some of their time to following, reading, and interacting with posts from users and businesses in their locality. This is why social media is important for local businesses, not just national brands. Social media can also help your operation reach potential customers looking for storage in your area.
Which Social Media Channels to Use
How and why people use their favorite social media will vary from person to person. Some are built for specific purposes, such as Pinterest, Instagram, LinkedIn, Snapchat, and Vine. And all of them have mobile versions—a fact that shouldn’t be lost on any local business owner. Although each platform has its benefits, we’ll start with the two most well-known and widely used: Facebook and Twitter.
Facebook Pages can be set up for businesses much the same way an individual’s page is set up. They were once known as “Fan Pages,” but that term has been sunsetted, and are now known simply as “Facebook Pages.” And just like an individual’s page, there will be a timeline for content that you and your followers post. The default setting will be that anyone can post on your timeline, though that can be changed.
When a Facebook Page for your business is created, there are six kinds of pages available. You’ll want to choose the one that best fits your operation. Then, you will select your type of business and enter location, phone number, web address, other social media feeds, and more.
You can also add other people as users for your page and assign various roles to them: Administrator, Editor, Moderator, Advertiser, and Analyst. Any person you give a role to for your Facebook page will only have the ability to do what their role allows. These roles range from adding and removing users, the creation and monitoring of content, buying Facebook advertising, and accessing Facebook analytics.
Once that is done, you can start posting content, follow other businesses, and invite others to follow your operation’s page. If you have employees assigned to various roles, they can also invite their contacts to follow your page.
Twitter: Conversing in 140 Characters
Twitter appeared on the scene in 2006, offering a “micro-blogging” service, limiting posts to 140 characters. Each individual post is called—what else—a “tweet.” Pictures and video can also be uploaded. When creating a Twitter account, remember to fill out the entire profile to include your logo, a description of your facility, and your website URL. This is important as Twitter accounts without these look unprofessional and spammy to others.
Twitter is built as a one-person show—that means there are no roles available for other people. If you want others to post on your facility’s Twitter feed or you need to assign someone to crunch analytics (like your marketing manager, for instance), you’ll need to share the password with them. There are some online services that enable multiple users to send posts to the facility’s Twitter feed and access other information about the feed without sharing the account password (Hootsuite, TweetDeck, and GroupTweet) and they vary in price and capabilities.
Following Others and Gaining Followers
When you begin on Twitter, you will be following no one and have zero followers. You’ll have to start searching for people to follow, and you do so by using the Twitter search box. The first step would be following other self storage outlets, both in and outside your local area. Other self storage providers can provide great ideas for marketing, promotions, and ways of making your business better. Next, concentrate on following the major media outlets in your city. Follow the major newspaper, the alternative weeklies, every TV station, and all the major radio stations (even if you don’t like their programming, there will be potential customers who do). Other good choices of who to follow are your favorite local businesses. Just search for the names of the local establishments you frequent and follow the ones you find.
As you follow these businesses on Twitter, you might notice you’ll pick up a few followers yourself. And that’s a good thing. Of course, you’ll want to post things on your feed, as well. To gain followers, it’s important to keep the feed updated frequently. No one wants to follow a Twitter account that hasn’t posted in at least a month.
A hashtag is a word preceded by the pound sign with no space between (ex: #hashtag), and it first appeared on Twitter, but now other large social media platforms, including Facebook, have adopted this functionality. It enables your posts to be found by their subject matter. For example, a post with the hashtag #selfstorage would make that word clickable by users and would return all posts using that specific hashtag on the platform. Here are some others you might use: #storageunit, #needstorage, and so on. Try writing a few and you’ll see the creativity flow. Also, search for these hashtags yourself and get a sense of what content already exists on Twitter with those hashtags, and see how your organization can contribute to the conversation.
Posting To Facebook and Twitter at Once
To boost engagement and ease of use, both Facebook and Twitter enable posts to be pushed to each other. That means if you post on Facebook, you can also send it out as tweet and vice versa. All it takes is following the directions at each platform’s help pages. You can then ensure posts from either Facebook or Twitter go to the other one; or choose which platform you want to post from and know that it will appear on the other.
Instagram and Pinterest
When “social media” is mentioned, Facebook and Twitter dominate the landscape, however other platforms are making inroads and are worth investigating, and perhaps adding to your marketing efforts. Namely, these are Instagram, a photo/video sharing app for your mobile device, and Pinterest, which is a visual bookmarking and organizing site. Both offer a high degree of interaction, and posts can also be pushed to Facebook, Twitter, or both. Instagram posts are uploaded only from mobile devices but can be interacted with on all devices. Pinterest has a mobile app that offers the majority of functions found on its regular site. More and more local businesses are enjoying the benefits of these popular apps.
Stay Engaged AND Engaging
The key to success when using any social media platform is to stay engaged by posting frequently, responding to comments, and interacting with others. Providing links to social media feeds from your website will be important in gaining followers, as well as providing fresh content on a regular basis. When you post, don’t just keep it to strictly advertising messages. Helpful hints, fun videos, and unique ideas to help your customers will keep your content appealing.
If you have limited resources of time or employees, it may help to just begin with one social media outlet. But have an eye on the future when you can expand your social media footprint and look for someone in your organization that can help you. Also, stay abreast of updates to formats or entirely new social media channels that arrive.
Used correctly, social media can be an effective and even enjoyable aspect of any storage facility’s marketing efforts. You’ll have the ability to engage with and educate your local audience about services, promotions, and whatever else you deem important. A unique and engaging social media feed can become known in your area, and can work its way into free publicity. You’ll stay top of mind in your area while followers look forward to your next post.