Using Social Media in Self-Storage: Does It Measure Up to the Hype?

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For example, John Smith might not log in to his Facebook account looking for a place to store his belongings, but while he’s checking on his friends, one of them might have left an update on his profile saying, “Uggghh i’m moving stuff 2 storage today...crappy day...but at least the storage company is cool.” Or maybe, while John is viewing pictures of his friend’s wedding on Facebook, he might see a targeted pay-per-click ad for a storage company in his area and click on it.

In both instances, finding storage was not the intent of the user, but it happened. This is neither good nor bad. It is what it is. You just need to consider your cost-per-lead and cost-per-tenant acquisition like you do with every other marketing campaign.
 
Worth the Investment?

Caution: Pay close attention to the time it takes to manage your social networking. It’s easy to let your employees participate because it’s “free.” In reality, while building networks and friends is free from a monetary standpoint, it can be very costly from a time perspective.

If you want my candid advice, don’t waste your time and energy on social media at this point. I’m sure this statement will be unpopular because the current enthusiasm over these tools is almost out of logical control. But there are too many other methods of acquiring tenants that are proven, easy and inexpensive for you to dive into this game headfirst and full steam ahead.

The use of social media is valid for many businesses but still questionable for the vast majority of self-storage. This could, and probably will, change in the near future. But for now, I recommend watching things unfold from the sidelines. I’m not saying social media is empty hype, but the practical application and return on investment for storage operators is uncertain.

That said, there are two things I recommend you do, based on what I’ve seen work in this industry: put a facility commercial or video on YouTube, and test the Facebook pay-per-click system. Launching a video on YouTube will help you in a couple of ways. First, you can add the video to your own website for customers. Second, if you link the video properly, it will help you from a search-engine-optimization standpoint.

When users create a profile on Facebook, they enter all sorts of information about where they live, work, went to school, etc. This allows you to target market based on demographics. Users can also join local groups, which you can target with a Google-like, pay-per-click campaign.
 
The Public Relations Angle

One last thing to keep in mind: The same power that creates instant positive buzz among social-media friends can also create instant negative PR for your company. Nothing separates an upset customer and his social network. There have already been instances in which a self-storage operation was caused a ton of heartache and an untold amount of negativity in its market because of bad social-media exposure. Social media makes it so much easier for people to tell the world what they think about your business.

I, for one, will continue keeping my eyes firmly on developments in social media. I have no doubt that opportunity for self-storage operators will emerge from the chaos. In the meantime, remember: Just because you can do something, doesn’t mean you should.

Derek M. Naylor is president of Storage Marketing Solutions, a full-service, results-oriented marketing and advertising agency dedicated to the self-storage industry. For a free subscription to his e-newsletter, call 800.941.4805; e-mail dnaylor@storagemarketingsolutions.com; visit www.storagemarketingsolutions.com.

Related Articles:

Do You Use Twitter or Facebook? [Self-Storage Talk]

Social Networking: Friend or Foe? [Self-Storage Talk]

Self-Storage Embraces Social Networking

Facebook Revamps Policies, Asks Users for Input

Facebook Draws Older Crowd

Twitter Away

How do you manage time on Facebook? [Self-Storage Talk]

Marketing on Facebook [Self-Storage Talk]

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