When you find someone in your target geography who mentions something that indicates he might need a storage space, you can send a direct message through Twitter called an @reply. In this way, you can begin a dialogue online about whether you can help.
Finally, listening gives you something to talk about other than yourself. You’ll hear about community events and the successes of the people you follow. Listening also allows you reply to the people in your target market and turn Twitter into a relationship-building tool, not just a one-way broadcast medium.
Put Down Roots
It takes time to learn the norms on Twitter, one of which is to be human. The other norms you’ll pick up by listening and interacting. People (your target market) won’t take you seriously or pay attention to you until you have earned their trust. David Meerman Scott, author of New Rules of Marketing and PR, calls this relationship building “putting down roots.”
Just like with a plant, putting down roots doesn't happen overnight. Twitter gives you access to hundreds or thousands of people in your target market, but it takes a while to build relationships, so don't give up too early. You must plant and cultivate before you can harvest.
Slow and Steady Wins this Race
Some storage operators worry that Twitter will become a big time-waster. One of the beauties of Twitter is everything outlined in this article can be done in 20 minutes or less a day. It doesn't matter if you only find four relevant people to follow the first day.
Invest 20 minutes, then come back to it tomorrow. Send a few tweets, find a few people to follow, reply to a few interesting comments, then come back the next day. There’s no need to continually monitor what’s happening on Twitter. Not only would it be difficult, other Twitter users don't expect it. Small consistent actions are much more important than massive action on an infrequent basis.
Twitter is a free tool that gives you access to people in your target geography and allows you to begin building relationships with them. It allows you to become known, liked and trusted by the people who you hope will rent from you when they have a need for storage.
You'll fit in and find new renters and admirers when you approach Twitter as a human representing a business, engage in small talk, listen and converse, and take the time to learn the ropes and gain trust.
Kenny Pratt is president of Crescendo Properties, a self-storage investment and fee-management firm operating 15 properties in the western United States. For more information, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org; visit www.sellingstorage.com.