By Amy Campbell
A few months ago I tried yet another social media outletPinterest. As a visual person, the appeal was obvious. Who wouldnt want to compile gorgeous pictures of a just about anything? While I didnt really join it for the social aspect, many people, including a few self-storage operators and vendors, use Pinterest as yet another way to make connections.
Social media has become a major force in both our personal and professional lives. In a recent ISS poll, respondents reported Facebook (35 percent) is their go-to social media website. Twitter and Google+ tied for second with nearly 18 percent each. In another poll, we asked whos handling the social media posting. Nearly 20 percent of respondents said all employees, including managers, are encouraged to participate in their facilitys social media efforts.
While some self-storage operators have figured out how to effectively use social media to increase brand awareness and generate revenue, others are still navigating the social circles. Fortunately, social media is a hot topic right now so theres a gluttony of information available, from books to Web articles to startups dedicated to helping businesses boost their social media stature.
I recently picked up a bestseller on the topic, 500 Social Media Marketing Tips by Andrew Macarthy, a blogger and social media strategist. The book covers all the favored social media sites, plus a few up-and-comers like Instagram and Vine. Here are a few high points.
Google+. With more than 190 million active users (as of May), its a must-do for any business. First, Macarthy suggests creating a business page, not a personal profile page, a mistake many business owners make. You want this page to represent your self-storage brand, not you as an individual. You can still have a personal profile page, but you should have one for your self-storage business as well. Also, be sure to use a large cover image, a compelling tagline, and focus on keywords in the About section. These should be keywords your customers are using such as Phoenix self-storage or Bloomington packing materials.
Pinterest. What better way to showcase your beautiful self-storage facility than through pictures? Pinterest is a visual pinboard. Users can create and organize their favorite stuff in virtual pins that can be viewed and shared by others online. Again, you want to create a profile for your self-storage business, specifically one that has an effective user name. It should be short, but memorable. When pinning images, go for taller ones, add keywords and hashtags, and use descriptive links to drive traffic back to your website. A critical point: Be sure to install the Pin It buttons to your website so your online visitors can quickly and easily share your images. For more on ways to use to Pinterest, read this ISS article.
YouTube. There are already many, many self-storage operators using this social media website to promote their facilities. Smartphones have made it ridiculously easy to create short videosand post them. However, youre looking to represent your facility at its best, so make sure anything you do upload is top quality. Be cognizant of street noise and lighting. As with all marketing, be sure to include a call to action. This could be as simple as adding your phone number and website. Keep you videos relevant to your message, and aim for less than three minutes. See how other operators are using video to promote their facilities on Self-Storage TV.
Facebook and Twitter. One allows you to communicate short snippets of info, while the other enables you share pictures and stories. Both offer countless marketing possibilities. A key to success on both sites is to post often and offer relevant info. Dont tell your followers about your move-in specials. They dont want to hear they can get 20 percent off this week. Instead, share pictures of your facility, ask questions to engage your followers, add a link to an interesting article, share a packing tip or even post a customer testimonial. To gain more followers on Facebook, consider sending a dedicated e-mail to your marketing list and ask them to Like you. Also, share your Facebook status updates on Twitter.
Remember to promote all your social media platforms to your customers via your website, brochures, business cards, fridge magnets and any other marketing you do. Social media success depends on interaction. If no one knows you have a Facebook or Google+ page, your information will not be seen.
Overwhelmed? Me, too. One way to tackle social media is by starting small. Choose one or two of these social media websites and spend some time on your profile and outreach. Whenever possible, research ways you can get better at connecting in the social media realm. You can find some useful articles on the ISS Social Media topics page, or chat with your peers about social media on Self-Storage Talk. Like anything else, there will be a learning curve. However, the pay off is there for those willing to put in the time and effort. Be sure to follow ISS on Twitter (SelfStorage_ISS) and Facebook (Virgo.InsideSelfStorage)!