By Tim Schlee
If social media marketing has become a necessity for any self-storage business, then so has Facebook marketing. With millions of users just a click away from your site, Facebook is an incredibly powerful tool. However, if you want to invest the time, energy and money into Facebook marketing, you need to do it the right way.
Facebook offers many options though which all kinds of marketing strategies can flourish, but it also has been flooded by so many businesses advertising their products that it’s easy to be drowned out by bigger, louder voices. Here's a brief rundown of some of the tools and strategies that will make your Facebook page a central hub of your self-storage facility’s marketing platform.
Brand Your Page
Let’s start with the most basic: Make sure you create a business page and not a personal profile. Facebook does not allow businesses to advertise through personal profiles. Hopefully, this seems obvious to you, but if you’re one of the millions of currently Facebook-less Americans, it might be advice worth hearing. You don’t want to penalize yourself right from the start by making such an easy mistake.
Once your page is created, it needs to be branded. A generic page is boring. No one wants to look at it, so no one will return, like it or listen to anything you have to say. Facebook allows a lot of flexibility with its pages. You can manipulate the tabs that already exist or create new ones better suited to your needs. Upload lots of pictures and add a particularly eye-catching image as your profile photo. A storage facility in particular will benefit from the image-addicted Facebook readership because you now have the opportunity to show all your visitors how wonderful your property is.
Another easy mistake to make is providing too little information. Fill out everything. And if you create new tabs, fill them with unique content. The more information you have on Facebook, the more personal you will seem to visitors.
Social media is useless without your participation. Post frequently with engaging photos, questions or other appropriate discussion topics (for example, current events). This will attract people to “like” your page, which in turn will introduce your brand to all the people who visit their profiles.
Facebook studies have shown its users are more likely to buy from brands in which they’re already engaged. The website can also be useful for finding other businesses. Networking with a local moving company, for example, could begin by simply liking their Facebook page.
Use Open Graph
This is a tool that allows you to control title tags, meta tags and other important information on your website to manage how it appears when shared on Facebook. Without manipulating any of the tags in Open Graph, you’ll probably have no picture next to your URL and possibly no content beyond the bare link.
Once you’ve used Open Graph, however, you can set a picture to appear beside any link that someone posts on Facebook and engineer a catchy meta description that helps draw and maintain the reader’s interest. A detailed description of how to use Open Graph is beyond the scope of this article, but there are resources available online.
While a polished main page, engaging discussions and refined use of tags are invaluable to maintaining and increasing your Facebook fan base, they won’t do much if you don’t have any fans in the beginning. This is where paid advertisements can become so important, although they can always be useful regardless of how large your fan base is already.
Facebook has a few different types of advertising. The first and most obvious is its paid ads that appear either on the sidebar or in a user’s news feed. There are also promoted posts that appear like any other post in a person’s news feed but can be “bumped” to the top and a wider population than your ordinary posts would reach. Sponsored stories, similar to promoted posts but used to “bump” actions rather than posts, are ending in April and so won’t be addressed in depth here.
These are generally cheaper than pay-per-click ads that you might place elsewhere, and they can reach a wide range of people. Facebook allows you to make various specifications for the target demographic—age, location, interests, etc., which determine the reach of your advertisement. This is a very useful tool because targeting more general audiences will cost more and can be a lot less effective. An ad designed to pique the interest of a student, for instance, will be a lot different from one targeting businesses in need of office storage.
Always be aware of Facebook’s size limitations. Create ads that work well in the space available, with a picture that doesn’t need to be full-screen to make sense. Try to include a call to action or a question, something that will keep the reader engaged beyond the text on the page. After that, there's a lot of freedom for exploration. Test various ads to see what works best for each demographic that you target and change your tactics accordingly. There's a lot to consider, so figure out what works best for your business.
Promoted posts are cheaper than paid ads, but they’re also limited to fans and friends of fans. As such, they’re great for promotions, events and other news that might be of interest to people who are already aware of your existence. While you might not get droves of new customers from promoted posts, they can definitely help solidify your Facebook presence and increase interaction with your online fan base.
Have a Goal
As with any type of marketing, have specific goals in mind before beginning a Facebook ad campaign. Do you want to draw more fans? Are you looking to send more users to your external website, whether or not they’ve “liked” your Facebook page? Whatever your intent, make it specific and measurable so you can determine the success of the campaign. If you don’t have a quantifiable goal, you’ll never know whether your Facebook page is helping your business or hurting it through wasted resources.
A good way to follow up on your success is through Google Analytics. Facebook itself does not reveal a lot about ad effectiveness, but there are external tools and conversion trackers that will allow you to access this very important information.
These are some of the primary tools at your disposal when trying to market your storage facility on Facebook. It is not an exhaustive list, but a solid foundation on which the inexperienced Facebook marketer can build. Don’t let other businesses drown you out of the discussion. Be smart and intentional with your marketing, and Facebook will reveal itself to be an invaluable resource for lead generation and customer relations.
Tim Schlee is a Kansas City native who studied English and linguistics at Truman State University. He is a content writer for StoreageAhead, which offers Web-marketing technology for the self-storage industry, including lead-generating search engines and facility management software. For more information, call 913.954.4110; visit www.storageahead.com.