Effective social media marketing requires more than posting a fun photo and a few words about your self-storage business on your favorite platform. Bolstered with a good strategy, it’s a complex solution that can also be a foundation of your customer-acquisition process. Let’s examine some reasons why you should invest in social media and where to concentrate your efforts for the best results.
Reasons to Invest
Increase brand awareness. This refers to people’s ability to recall and recognize your self-storage business. It’s the primary goal of any marketer and crucial to acquiring customers. When a potential renter has the choice between you or a competitor, they’re more likely to go with the most recognizable brand. Social media is a powerful way to keep yours top-of-mind. Use it to cast a wide net with paid ads or cater to those most interested in your company by building a network of followers.
Drive website traffic. Even if you don’t have a robust social media strategy just yet, creating accounts with information about your business and prominent links to your website is an excellent first step to drive traffic to your website. Adding important information to your profile such as hours of operation, driving directions, and keywords for unique or special features like climate-controlled storage are all ways to increase searchability and ultimately drive more visitors to your site.
Convert potential customers. Successfully using social media to convert prospects to paying self-storage tenants requires effort and consistency. It takes much more than occasionally pushing a photo or message into virtual space, but it doesn’t have to be overwhelming.
If your customers have common questions about self-storage, engage with them through question-and-answer posts about your business. If you have a newsletter, use social media to promote it and get new subscribers. Once you’re ready to take your efforts to the next level, build a library of content and commit to consistently making daily, weekly or monthly posts. Consistency is key for building trust and relevance with your audience. Once you have a sustainable strategy in place, investing in paid ads can increase your audience and drive still more conversions.
Demonstrate customer service. Outstanding service is often the factor that convinces consumers to choose one business over another. With social media, everything is on display, so quick and friendly responses are more important than ever.
Some view this open interaction as a negative because if you mess up, your “dirty laundry” is on display for everyone to see. Though this can happen, the opposite is also true. Consistently engaging with customers through social media by answering queries and resolving issues can build brand trust and loyalty in a significant way. Current tenants and potential customers alike will surely take notice.
Enable social listening. This is the process of monitoring social media channels for mentions of your brand as well as for industry insight, competitive analysis, campaign analysis and more. It provides quick insight to your customer experience.
Granted, social media comments and direct interactions with your brand also shed light on what customers say and think about you, but to truly understand industry trends and how your business compares to competitors through the eyes of the public, you need to enable your social-listening skills. This is a useful component to help make smart, strategic decisions.
The Best Platforms
There are endless ways to leverage social media for your self-storage business. All mainstream channels can be useful in different ways, and every few months, a new platform seems to come along to create even more choices for where to spend your marketing time and energy.
Determining the best channels for your operation will depend on company strategies, goals and resources. If resources are limited, start small. Pick one or two platforms to begin, and then add more as you grow. Here are some to consider and how to use them:
- Facebook: Share general information and announcements, build brand loyalty, create paid ad campaigns, and connect with local customers or groups.
- Twitter: See what’s trending on a national or industry level and join in on “the larger” conversation.
- Instagram: Share information visually, host online promotions and giveaways, and have some fun with your customers.
- Pinterest: Curate all things visually related to the self-storage industry.
- YouTube: Share videos and “how-to” information with your customers.
- LinkedIn: Build your professional network and recruit employees.
Many consumers first search for information on social media channels, so having a profile containing immediate details and clear calls-to-action can be helpful in driving customer traffic.
Organic vs. Paid
Another consideration for social media is your strategy around organic (free posts, photos, videos, etc.) vs. paid (i.e., advertising). Posting organically is free, but the audience is limited to your followers. You can expand that reach by encouraging followers to share your posts and using hashtags, but growing your audience takes time, requires consistency and needs to be a long-term approach.
Paid social media allows you to reach new audiences, increase brand awareness and followers, and even target specific customers who may be interested in your product and services. This tool can drive conversions directly, but it can be costly and hard to measure its effectiveness without the proper data and expertise. Most social platforms have their own advertisings systems, and each takes time to master.
However, when paid social advertising is done correctly, it can be a powerful digital-marketing tool. Self-storage operators can find success by diversifying mixed-use channels and focusing on targeted ads. This strategy brings value because it offers efficiency of scale and can drive traffic to your website and physical property. There are even turnkey solutions available that give you access to the same resources that make the largest operators so successful.
The Place to Be
Social media platforms are becoming search engines in their own right, but they take the experience a step further by allowing authentic engagement and two-way communication with current and potential customers. If your self-storage business isn’t on social media, you could be missing out on significant value.
Social media is a powerful tool to build your brand. If you create a strategy, start small and engage with customers. You’ll get results. If you want to attract more customers, you need to be where they are—even online!
Mike Beutler is digital content management specialist for Extra Space Storage Inc., a self-storage real estate investment trust and management company. He joined the business in 2020 after working in the airline industry for several years. He holds an associate degree from Weber State University and a bachelor’s degree from Thomas Edison State University. For more information, call 866.447.6522; email [email protected]space.com.