4 Steps to Help Self-Storage Operators Get the Most From Facebook's Graph Search

Facebooks new search engine, Graph Search, can help self-storage operators capitalize on their likes to gain more business.

By Katelyn Murray

Facebooks latest development, Graph Search, is an innovative search engine exclusively for Facebook users. By way of a simple search on the social network, users can find out everything from which of their Facebook friends are single, to restaurants their friends in a certain city Like, or even businesses theyve visited recently. The new search engine is also a great way for self-storage businesses to connect with more prospective tenants.

Why Graph Search?

To create a more personal and relevant search, Graph Searchs goal is to return local results that are filtered through:

  • Recommendations and interests of friends 
  • The online and offline communities people belong to and trust
  • The content a users friends engage with the most

The point of Graph Search is to give Facebook users results that are more closely aligned with their interests, friends, family and lifestyles. (This assumes their Facebook friends' interests are the best indications of their own.)

When it comes to local businesses on Facebook, its obvious why its never been more important to grow your page Likes and engage with your target audiences regularly. Quite simply, the more you do this, the more likely your self-storage business is to be found by the friends of your fans. Heres why.

How to Get the Most Out of Graph Search

Getting any benefit out of Graph Search relies on maximizing your businesss social media presence. Having a consistent social strategy in place will allow you even more access to a larger network on Facebook.
Once you've covered the basics and best practices for optimizing your Facebook page, you'll need to tailor your content to create a high amount of engagement. The more your audience engages with you on Facebook, the more exposure your business page will have among their friends.

Here are four huge but still practical tips for tailoring your social media approach in an effort to send you straight to the top of Graph Search results:

1. Focus on growing Facebook likes. Graph Search relies on universal search engine algorithms used by services such as Google and Bing. Quite simply, the more people engage with a page or a piece of content, the more popular it's perceived to be. Popularity determines relevancy and, in turn, a better search result.

For example, lets say one of your customers Facebook friends is searching for a self-storage facility in your city. By simply typing in self-storage and his city, if several (or even one) of his Facebook friends has liked your facilitys page, it will be shown to him in his search results.

Upping the ante on the search game, lets imagine a person has also engaged with the content youve posted on your page. Now your page is even more likely to show up in his friends Graph Search. That means growing your network and focusing on engaging that network is paramount.

2. Post images frequently. If you want to be as engaging as possible on Facebook, you must post images a majority of the time. There are a couple of reasons why.  

First and foremost, Facebook gives priority to photos in newsfeeds. If you want to show up and engage your fans, make photos your No. 1 focus in terms of content. The more you engage with your fans, the more likely their friends are to be exposed to your content.

Second, recent marketing studies show that images are the No. 1 form of content users engage with on Facebook. By simply posting an image alongside a link to your website, users are more likely to not only like your image, but also follow your link.

3. Create a Bing business profile. If during a users search Facebook does not find any relevant content within its social network, a supplemental database kicks inBing. This means Facebook will rely on pulling results from Bing (not Google) in the event it cant produce its own social results. The first thing you need to do to prepare for Graph Search is claim and complete a Bing business profile.

4. Encourage reviews on your Bing profile. This, of course, is the next step after completing your business profile. Any business with a healthy four- or five-star rating on Bing is going to come up at the top of Facebook Graph searches.  On the flip side, any businesses that do not have a Bing profile with great reviews will be summarily weeded out.  

Many businesses find that incentivizing reviews (good or bad) is the easiest way to approach this. However, local business review websites such as Yelp and Bing usually discourage businesses from doing so.

You can also try to be creative in how you ask for reviews. Create a review corner in your lobby with coffee, candy bars or snacks, where your customers can leave reviews from their mobile phones while relaxing or enjoying a treat. Provide Bing review cards at your facilitys front desk with instructions for your customers on how to leave reviews. Urge your managers to ask your customers for reviews personally, and do everything you can to ask for reviews in newsletters and on your website.

Facebooks Graph Search is still in beta but is live for a large group of users. This is the perfect time to get your social strategy in order and prepare your Facebook page and content to benefit from this new and effective local business tool.

Katelyn Murray is a marketing manager with EZ Storage, a self-storage facility with three locations in the Boston-metro area including Framingham, Natick and Newton. For more information, visit www.ezstoragenow.com.

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