More than 50 million businesses use Facebook pages to promote their brands. However, social media has been relatively slow to gain popularity in the self-storage industry. Its effective use comes with a pretty steep learning curve, and many operators don’t see the point to investing in something with so little obvious return.
This argument has merit. Self-storage is an event-driven business, so you’re unlikely to convince someone they need the product if they don’t have a pressing necessity. Following this vein, it seems unlikely you’ll convince someone to rent a unit by connecting with them on social media. From this perspective, it doesn’t seem Facebook would be an effective tool to grow business.
Even so, it can’t be ignored. This summer, Facebook reached 2 billion users. That’s almost nine times the population of the United States. There’s simply no other platform through which you can reach that many people. Even if you’re only able to connect with a fraction of its users, your return will be far superior to your reach with print ads, door hangers, chamber meetings and bench advertising. Keeping that in mind, here are five ways Facebook can help your self-storage business.
Search Engine Optimization
Search engine optimization (SEO) is a big, ugly term. It scares people because it’s often misunderstood; but it’s simple, really. You want your business to appear on the first page of search engine results because studies show 75 percent of users don’t scroll beyond that. Since self-storage is an event-driven business, you need to ensure you’re easy to find when potential customers search for storage in your area.
Social media profiles rank in search engine results. With effective SEO, you can rank with multiple pages on your website as well as your social media profiles. Theoretically, your facility could take up the entire first page of Google results. Additionally, social media pages affect local rankings. This is a huge advantage for a brick-and-mortar business like a self-storage facility.
To make your social media pages work for SEO, you have to populate them with content—preferably content to which people will respond. Engagement is the key. You want other users to like, share and comment on your posts.
Using Facebook effectively for SEO starts with profile information. The first 140 characters of your Facebook bio will appear in a search engine result. Include keywords and ideas about your business so searches can quickly get an idea of what you’re about. After you’ve optimized your bio for SEO, you simply need to focus on engaging your audience on your Facebook page and doing it often.
Facebook is a business, and it doesn’t want other businesses to benefit from its platform for free. The good news is it will let you benefit for little money. You can set a Facebook advertising budget as low as $5 per day. Considering how many thousands of dollars self-storage operators previously spent on Yellow Page ads, it’s baffling that so few are taking advantage of this inexpensive ad platform.
Facebook ads can be specifically targeted to your audience—by gender, income level, education level and interests. Many operators are already collecting this marketing data from renters. You need to put that information to use in targeting Facebook ads. It’s not a coincidence, when you’re using the platform, that ads pop up for things you were searching for earlier in the day. This is by design. You, too, can target ads to Internet users searching for self-storage.
Community Involvement and Brand Loyalty
You can become an active part of your community by reaching out to local people on Facebook. You can also establish a great customer-service relationship with existing customers by connecting with them on the platform. Offer referral credits to your tenants and, hopefully, increase your word-of-mouth exposure. Millennials recently became the largest consumer base in the United States. They’ll be looking for you on social media.
Facebook is also a great place to get reviews from customers who love you! Most consumers look at reviews before making a purchasing decision, and many of them are on Facebook.
Drive Traffic to Your Website
Facebook allows you to link your website to any post you make and provides a thumbnail view of your website when linked. It’s a great way to drum up interest for people looking for storage. Facebook also provides business pages with the opportunity to have a call-to-action button prominent on the page. This button can take people directly to a specific page on your website.
Monitor Your Competition
Facebook allows you to make a list of pages for other storage operators that you want to watch. You don’t have to “follow” them, and they don’t have to know you’re watching. You can simply see how much engagement their posts are getting and test to see if those types of posts might work for you. You’ll also be able to quickly see if they’re running any specials or offering any extra perks for tenants and prospects. This will allow you to stay relevant in your market.
Facebook doesn’t directly result in rentals the way a door hanger might. Rather, it’s similar to the time you spend attending chamber events. This time allows you to become part of your community and part of the conversation, albeit a digital one. Given the recent climb to 2 billion users, it doesn’t seem Facebook is going anywhere any time soon. Embrace the platform and make it work for you!
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.