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Social Media Etiquette: A Basic Guide for Self-Storage Operators

Without guidelines on how to use social media, disaster could be just a tweet or post away for your self-storage business. Here are some basic etiquette rules to help you connect with followers the right way.

October 29, 2014

5 Min Read
Social Media Etiquette: A Basic Guide for Self-Storage Operators

By Margaret Page

Like children with a shiny new toy, adults introduced to social media in recent years jumped in and started playing, posting personal photos to Facebook, accepting requests for “friendship” from long-lost high school pals, and “checking in” everywhere from the coffee shop to their favorite eatery. What fun! Suddenly we were getting a look into the lives of people with whom we haven’t connected in years.

But unlike a new toy, social media didn’t come with any real instructions. We unwrapped it, signed up and off we went, sharing our world with … the world. As more and more people glommed onto this new way of communicating, the seeds of chaos were planted.

Without guidelines on how to use social media, disaster is just a tweet or post away. Many people—including self-storage operators—have found this out the hard way. Embarrassing gaffs, impulsive rants and misguided comments have ensued.

What you post on social media sites is out there forever. The Internet never forgets. A “selfie” posted after a night on the town or a tweet about a colleague or customer can cause more damage than you think. It’s dangerous to assume privacy settings protect you. Even if you’ve locked down your company’s Facebook page, once it’s posted to the Web, you can guarantee someone who’s not directly connected to you will find it. All it takes is for one of your friends to share it with their friends. And what you say can and will be held against you! Your customers, colleagues and vendors are watching.

A good rule of thumb, whether you’re engaging in social media for personal or business use, is this: If you wouldn’t say it loudly, in front of your mother, you shouldn’t post it online—anywhere!

With so many companies supporting “bring your own device” in the workplace, it’s more important than ever to establish a clear social media policy for your self-storage employees. They’re representatives of your brand, and in business, perception is everything. To protect yourself from the embarrassment of a social media faux pas, create a policy that clearly states what you expect from your staff when it comes to social media use. Set clear boundaries, especially for those who are part of your brand-building process.

Do I Know You?

In this world of connectivity, how connected are we really? Has the word “connected” lost its meaning?

With our ability to interact with anyone, anytime, anywhere through social media, the term “connected” has been watered down. Think about how many of the generic “I’d like to add you to my professional network on LinkedIn” invitations you receive each month. Very few of them are from people with whom you have truly “connected” outside of social media. It feels a little like the person with the most fans and followers wins. But do they, really?

Before there was LinkedIn, you wouldn’t dream of asking a new acquaintance to buy something from you just minutes after you met. And you certainly wouldn’t show up at a networking event in yesterday’s outfit. Just like offline networking, online relationship-building follows the same basic etiquette. Here are a few things to keep in mind:

1. Be professional. On Twitter, don’t be the egg; post a professional photo of yourself or storage facility on your profile. This holds true on all social media sites. Anyone should recognize you or your property from your online photos. Include information about yourself or business. Your social media profiles are the equivalent of your business card, so keep them updated as information changes. Always maintain your basic contact info and link to your other professional profiles.

2. Introduce yourself. Want people to get a sense for who you are? Post interesting, value-added content on your social media accounts to showcase your professional expertise. This is especially true with LinkedIn. When you update your status with useful information, you’re building trust among your network and opening doors for introductions to new connections.

3. Be authentic. Just like in real life, no one wants to connect with “that guy.” You know the one: the guy in the sleazy suit who spends his time schmoozing.

One of the biggest mistakes people make when connecting on LinkedIn or Facebook is failing to personalize the message in the invitation. Swap out the default with something like “George, I really enjoy your blog at xblog.com. The leadership content you share is so valuable. I’d like to add you to my professional network and get to know more about your business.” This will let the recipient know how you found him and why you want to connect. In turn, he’ll know you aren’t seeking a connection for the sake of just adding to your numbers.

4. Listen. Building connections through social media isn’t just about pushing out content on this network or that. If you’re not taking time to listen and engage with influential people—the ones with whom you’re hoping to connect—you’re missing an opportunity. Choose a handful of key people with whom you want to build a business relationship, read what they’re posting, determine where there’s an opportunity for you to add value, and then jump in!

Whether you’re connecting with people in the online world or at a dinner party, knowing how to present yourself in a positive way is the same. “Think before you speak” translates to “think before you tweet or post.”

Margaret Page is a recognized etiquette expert, speaker and coach who helps people and organizations be more professional. She’s the author of “The Power of Polite, Blueprint for Success and Cognito Cards—Wisdom for Dining & Social Etiquette.” She’s also the founder and CEO of Etiquette Page Enterprises, a Canadian training organization. For more information, visit www.margaretpage.com.

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