Self-storage operators who are unfamiliar with Twitter might find themselves asking how it can help them grow their business. Many realize Facebook is a useful tool for marketing to today’s consumer, but Twitter is even more valuable in some ways. The following explores Twitter’s relevance to the storage industry and how to take advantage of this growing social media platform.
The Basics: Tweets, Usernames and Hashtags
Twitter is an interesting beast, a quick-moving conversation. Each message, or “tweet,” is limited to 140 characters intended to travel swiftly through the “Twitterverse.” The length limitation forces users to think deliberately about what they want to post.
Due to the short and fast nature of Twitter, you won’t be able to sit on the couch at night and catch up on everything that happened on the platform during the day. Tweets flow rapidly and are just as quickly replaced by new messages. You won’t find a synopsis or timeline like you do on Facebook.
While anyone can read tweets, to post on Twitter, you’ll need a username, or handle. Always preceded by an @ symbol, your username is how you’re identified on the platform. To create one, you can only use uppercase and lowercase letters, numbers and the underscore character. For example, if your name is John Smith, you might choose @johnsmith or @john_smith. (There are many methods for choosing a username. Simply Google “choose Twitter username” for guidance.)
Twitter is well-known for the use of “hashtags.” A hashtag is a word—or a phrase all connected as a single word—with a pound sign (number sign) at the front, for example, #selfstorage, #fashion, #photooftheday and #followme. Hashtags are used to group like ideas, which allows Twitter users to search and find related content. For example, if someone is interested in reading tweets about self-storage, he can simply search on the #selfstorage hashtag and find all connected posts. He can then choose to join a conversation.
If you’re a self-storage operator, a good way to get started on the platform is to read all the #selfstorage posts to see what people are saying about the industry. This will also allow you to see who’s talking about the business, which could be a useful tool for finding potential new tenants (more on this later).
Twitter isn’t just a place to post memes about #MondayMotivation. It’s the social media platform for customer service. Unsatisfied customers go to Twitter to get help when they have an issue with a brand. Many of the larger companies have Twitter profiles specifically to assist with help-related concerns. For example, cable giant Comcast has one Twitter profile for the company in general (@comcast) and another specifically for customer service (@comcastcares). Many studies have shown that the cost of conflict resolution on Twitter is significantly less expensive than using a call center.
It’s imperative for any business to be available to respond to customer concerns on Twitter. If you don’t, the world will see your lack of attention. With the U.S. consumer base now being dominated by Millennials, it’s more important than ever to establish a digital voice.
Twitter is different from Facebook because people can talk about your company without you being a part of the conversation. On Facebook, if someone wants to leave you a bad review or a comment, you must first have a page on which they can post it. With Twitter, people can simply create a hashtag about your company and its poor service, which would be available for any searcher for the foreseeable future.
Knowing how valuable the platform is for customer service, Twitter has begun implementing features that make it easier for businesses to connect with clients. For example, it recently added the ability to direct-message a favorite brand, which allows people to express concerns privately and without the 140-character limit of a typical tweet. This flexibility makes it much easier to explain a situation and offer solutions.
Another feature is Customer Feedback, a rating system allows users to rate a company using a scale of one to 10 and provide a small amount of feedback. The information is then visible to any Twitter user searching on a brand’s username.
The Twitter search functions (simple and advanced) allow you to find people who are talking about #selfstorage. It also allows potential customers to find your business. You can see what people are saying about the industry and what features and benefits might be important to them. Most important, you can poll your audience without the click of a button. You then know what you need to entice prospects away from the competition.
Twitter users are a genuine community of like-minded individuals. Think it as a digital chamber-of-commerce event. You can find people in your geographic community and connect with them, or discover local events you might want to attend. By seeing what’s trending on Twitter, you can tailor your posts to include content that will resonate with users.
You can also connect with other self-storage operators and can see what they’re posting, share ideas and learn from one another. On Facebook, users must comment on your page to start a dialogue. Twitter doesn’t impose this limitation. A business account operates mainly the same as a personal account. This free-flowing style of “conversation” allows you to communicate better and establish deeper connections.
Twitter ads allow you to promote tweets about your business to people who might be interested in what you have to offer. You can even target your ad to those who’ve already expressed an interest in self-storage. In an event-driven business like ours, finding a willing audience is often difficult. Thus, Twitter ads can be an excellent option. In addition to being valuable, they’re inexpensive. You can place ads for as little as $5 per day.
Twitter isn’t a platform you can look at once a day and put out of your mind, but checking in a few times a day takes mere seconds. For a small investment of time, you can find customers who might want to talk to or rent from you. That’s an opportunity no self-storage operator should be willing to lose.
Cheli Rosa is director of marketing for StorageStuff.Bid, which provides online storage-auction services. She’s a former high school teacher turned storage professional turned auctioneer. She’s worked in all areas of self-storage. Her constant desire for additional knowledge led her to immerse herself in the lien-foreclosure process. For more information, call 877.758.4243; visit www.storagestuff.bid. Find her on Twitter as @Chelirosa.