While many self-storage operators recognize the value in creating a social media presence, many don’t have a set of concrete goals they’re trying to achieve through their online outreach. Setting goals for your social media program will give you guideposts for the types of content you post, the platforms you use and the frequency of postings required. Here are three common objectives that will work for most any self-storage business.
Goal 1: Increase Brand Awareness
Brand awareness is how readily recognizable your brand is by potential customers. You want your company name to be the first to people’s lips when they discuss self-storage. Social media is a great way to keep reminding people who you are. But how?
First, decide which platforms work best for your brand. You know the big three: Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. The second tier includes YouTube, Pinterest, Snapchat, LinkedIn, Google+ and others. Each platform has a different demographic and socio-economic user makeup. For instance, you may be surprised to learn that 75 percent of adults who make more than $75,000 annually use Facebook.
Once you’ve decided which platforms to use, you’ll want to focus on creating content that’s shareable and diverse. Maria Dykstra, founder of digital-marketing firm TreDigital, suggests this mix: 60 percent industry-related, third-party content, 30 percent company-related content and 10 percent promotional content.
As you begin posting, there are three main metrics you should track to see if you’re increasing brand awareness:
- Followers: By tracking the growth of your followers over time, you’ll be able to see how well your social media efforts are paying off.
- Reach: This refers to the number of people who see your posts. As you post content, monitor the reach each post gets and customize your messages toward the types of posts that reach the most people.
- Shares, retweets and mentions: Pay attention to the posts that are getting liked, shared, retweeted and commented on, and cultivate similar messages for added engagement. Each platform offers analytics dashboards that will show you these metrics.
Goal 2: Increase Engagement
What’s engagement? Simply put, it’s the amount of interaction your posts receive. If you’re on Facebook, this means shares, likes and followers. If you’re on Twitter, this is retweets and followers. And if you’re on Instagram, engagement is measured in likes and followers.
If you’ve been posting on social media for any length of time, you know how frustrating it can be to accomplish this goal. The key is trial and error. You must be willing to experiment with different types of content on several platforms at different times and dates. That’s a lot of variables, but finding the right combination can really get the ball rolling in terms of interaction with your customers and, ultimately, increased brand awareness and sales. Here are some ideas:
Try a little humor. Your audience doesn’t want pitch after pitch about how great your company is, nor do followers want every post to include that week’s special offers. Instead, try posting humorous stories, GIFs or videos, which are more likely to be forwarded and increase your reach.
Give visuals. People love to look at pictures. Whether it’s an image of a beautiful location, a nice sunset or cute animal, there will be an instant draw. If you can, post images of real people. This can be of your staff having fun at a company gathering or a customer who just received great service. Eighty-seven percent of content shared on Facebook consists of photographs, according to Social Media Examiner.
Ask for it. If you’re not getting any activity on your posts, try asking for it. Ask questions like, “If your house was on fire and you could only grab one item, what would it be?” Or create a Twitter poll: “Is your garage too full to park a car in it?” Additional approaches include fill-in-the-blank statements, caption-writing contests or asking people to post their favorite animated GIF (this one seems to be quite effective).
Stimulate interest. Another way to draw interest to your posts is offering compelling information that would interest your audience. This can come in the form of links to helpful articles, for example, “7 Warning Signs You Need a New Roof.” Posts containing facts and stats also do well, such as “The average U.S. household contains 300,000 things.”
Goal 3: Drive Traffic and Generate Leads
These are really two goals but, in the end, they’re both about generating business. While social media is great for keeping your name in the minds of your customers, it also needs to be looked at for bringing people to your site and, ultimately, having them complete a desired action. This could be booking a storage unit, filling out a form or calling one of your locations.
After using the above-mentioned suggestions to create engagement, you’ll need to understand if your social media efforts are effective. To do that, look at your site’s analytics. If you don’t already have Google Analytics installed, start there. Once in the dashboard, from the “Acquisitions” menu, go to “All Traffic/Channels.”
Here you'll see how your social presence brings visits to your site. Since these visits are coming from people who most likely are already fans or following your brand, the traffic is going to be more qualified and will result in better conversion than your organic or referral traffic. If you drill down into that channel, you’ll see which of your social media platforms is getting you the most traffic.
Keep this in mind when creating content for your social media channels: Posting about new and interesting content that lives on your website in the form of a blog or newsletter is a good way to get increased traffic. In study by social media management platform Buffer, 61 percent of businesses surveyed used social media to distribute content, thereby directing visits back to their websites. Another 54 percent used social media to develop sales leads.
Speaking of generating leads, social media lends itself very well to lead generation if you create the right framework. For instance, a great way to collect new prospects is to run a sweepstakes or giveaway. Through the entry form, you’ll be able to grab their e-mail address. Include a way for them to share the event via their social media channels. If your organization offers referral bonuses to customers, this would also be something to promote on a routine basis.
If you’re going to focus on generating new leads, you may want to buy more reach through boosted posts. With Facebook and other platforms limiting organic reach these days, an easier way to generate a bigger audience is through paid advertising. The good news is it’s much cheaper than Google AdWords. West Coast Self-Storage recently boosted a post promoting its latest blog and reached 3,000 more people than one of its standard posts. It also received 184 click-throughs to the website. The net result was a per-visit cost of only 27 cents, so it was well worth the investment.
If you’re going to go through the effort of establishing a social media program for your self-storage business, map out a few solid goals. This will give you something to aim for instead of the standard “post and pray” mentality that many companies use. Follow the guidelines above and you’ll soon generate more traction through your efforts.
Derek Hines is an Internet-marketing assistant for West Coast Self-Storage, a self-storage acquisitions, development and management company with facilities in California, Oregon and Washington. He writes extensively on all subjects related to self-storage. For more information, visit www.westcoastselfstorage.com.