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Skeptical About Social Media Use in Self-Storage? How Facility Operators Can Make the Most of It

Some self-storage operators are skeptical about the value of social media as a marketing strategy, but it can be truly worthwhile. If you’re reluctant to put in the effort or aren’t sure how to make it work for your business, read on for practical advice.

CJ Pomerantz

August 2, 2022

7 Min Read
How Self-Storage Operators Can Make the Most of Social Media

Many self-storage operators think social media marketing doesn’t work. They don’t believe it drives rentals and feel it sucks up too much time and money. But they also know that every business needs a Facebook page. So, they make a page but then never update it. Every time they do log in, they see messages—sometimes months old—from prospects and existing tenants asking about unit availability, or making a complaint, or wanting to know if this is the facility “down the street.” It’s enough to turn anyone off.

The thing is, social media is more than just another task on your marketing to-do list. You can’t just set up accounts and let them languish. If you use them correctly, there’s legitimate business value to be had in these platforms. You just need to know how to maximize your return while minimizing your effort. The following explains why social media is important to your self-storage operation, where and how to implement it, dos and don’ts, plus some tools you can use to make it as painless as possible.

Why You Need It

There are many reasons to use social media, beyond it being table stakes for opening any business these days. Most important, it’s going to help your Google search ranking. Having an active social presence that links to your self-storage website helps Google realize that you’re a serious business. It looks at information about your company all over the internet, from its own Google Business Profile listings to a host of directories and social media.

But it isn’t just about ensuring your business can be found. It’s about communicating with your self-storage tenants and prospects. Recent data shows that our customers are starting their search earlier and spending more time researching where to store their stuff. In an industry where the product can easily be viewed as a commodity, social media is a way to stand out. Potential renters often don’t know the difference between a class-A, climate-controlled facility and a class-C drive-up property; but a social presence is a way to differentiate your business from competition.

Finally, depending on your market, social media is increasingly where you’re going to find your self-storage tenants, even before Google. If you’re in a city with a college or military base, your prospects are going to skew younger than average. The same is true in medium to large metropolitan areas, though to a lesser degree. You can have the nicest facility, the easiest move-in process and the lowest rates in town, but none of that matters if your tenants can’t find you. Social media is a way for them to discover your business.

Where You Need to Be

Now that you’re adding social media to your self-storage marketing mix, where should you build pages? Let’s start with the 800-pound gorilla: Facebook. No matter what you think about its business, politics or the people who run it, it’s still the largest social platform, beating the next closest competitor by more than 500 million monthly users. In short, you need to set up a Facebook page.

After that, it becomes more a matter of preference, skill and time. If you have a particularly scenic location or a photography hobby, Instagram is a no-brainer. Love shooting videos and educating potential tenants on the ins and outs of self-storage? Start a YouTube channel, Snapchat or TikTok. For that matter, if you’re making the video content already, there’s no reason not to share it on all three channels with some slight editing to make it stickier for each audience.

If none of these things sound appealing and you just want to put in the minimum effort, stick with Facebook. Wading into Twitter will likely yield few leads, plus it requires the most time and monitoring. It isn’t going to be worth the time or effort you’d invest.

Why Content Matters

Coming up with social media content can seem daunting at first, but it isn’t as scary as you think. Are you running a move-in special? Great! That can fuel weekly or more frequent posts for the length of the campaign. Upgrading your facility? Provide updates on how the remodel is going. Highlight an employee once a month. Offer advice on packing for a move, choosing a storage location or estimating space needs. Anything that makes your business more relatable is going to help you in the long run.

Ask your new self-storage tenants to post reviews to your Facebook page as well as your Google Business Profile and Yelp. Once they’ve finalized their rental, you can send them a welcome email containing links to each of these pages. It’s an easy way to generate content and make your business look better. Just remember: Whether a review is good or bad, always respond ASAP. If it’s good, a simple “thank you” is plenty. If it’s bad, try to move the conversation offline so you can resolve the tenant’s issue out of the public eye.

The most important aspect to your social media presence is consistency. Consistency is key. You don’t have to post multiple times a day, every day, but you need to post on a regular schedule. If your timetable only allows you to post once a week, that’s fine. Just make sure you’re posting every week, not once a week for a few weeks, then once a month, then once every six months.

Some Dos and Don’ts

As with any self-storage marketing, there are some strategies you need to follow with social media and others to avoid.

  • Plan ahead. If you’re going on vacation, pre-schedule a few posts so you don’t have to worry about it while you’re gone or think about it as soon as you get back.

  • Jot down good ideas. If you notice something you think would make good fodder for a social media post, make a note so you don’t forget.

  • Keep a calendar. The social media algorithms are nicer to your self-storage business if your posts seem more organic. If you always post on Monday at 3:30 p.m., you’re less likely to see engagement than if you sometimes post on Monday afternoon, Wednesday morning or Thursday night. Mix it up!

  • Track what works for you. If you notice certain posts generate a ton of engagement, use that theme or topic again.

  • Don’t bite off more than you can chew. Start small: one social media platform, one post per week. If you find it’s easy, you can add more posts, platforms or both.

  • Don’t slack off. Remember that consistency is key.

  • Don’t get into controversial topics. If you wouldn’t discuss a topic with a customer in person, don’t talk about it on social media.

Supportive Tools

There are a ton tools out there that can help you improve your self-storage social media efforts. Here are a few of my favorites:

  • Sprout Social: This allows you to schedule social media posts. It works with Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIn. It has an easy interface, and the free version gives you access to a couple of platforms, with more available in the paid version.

  • Canva: This is a really cool resource that allows you to create stunning, eye-catching graphics right on your phone. You can add copy to photos or create digital fliers, and there are a ton of other options. Again, there’s a free interface, but the paid version gives you a Photoshop-like tool right in your pocket.

  • Google Sheets: The Google version of Excel? How is that useful? That’s where you’re going to build your social media posting calendar. Just download a free template and you’ll be ready to start tracking what you post, when and where, and how your audience responded.

All this advice is just a starting point for your social media marketing journey. If it still seems too much, you can always reach out to an industry marketing agency or bring in a part-time employee to help. Once you get going, though, you’ll likely find social media is a fun, easy way to get to know your self-storage tenants. It’ll also help your business become more involved with your community!

CJ Pomerantz has been working in digital marketing for more than a decade, with clients in industries ranging from pets to powersports to real estate. He’s currently the product manager for Automatit, which provides digital-marketing services to the self-storage industry including website development, search engine optimization, paid search, call tracking and more. For more information, call 520.214.3628.

About the Author(s)

CJ Pomerantz

Product Manager, Automatit Inc.

CJ Pomerantz has been working in digital marketing for more than a decade, with clients in industries ranging from pets to powersports to real estate. He’s currently the product manager for Automatit, which provides digital marketing services to the self-storage industry including website development, search engine optimization, paid search, call tracking and more. For more information, call 520.214.3628.

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