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Starting Self-Storage Conversations on LinkedIn

LinkedIn is one of the fastest-growing self-storage networking sites. But how do you make this social media website work for your facility? Here’s how to start conversations.

June 25, 2014

4 Min Read
Starting Self-Storage Conversations on LinkedIn

By Jon Wyles

Everyone is talking about it, everyone is doing it, and people say if you aren’t, you should be! I’m talking about LinkedIn, one of the fastest growing social-networking sites. But how do you make social media work for you as a self-storage operator?

LinkedIn and Self-Storage

Tricky … or is it? Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest and Instagram are the talk of the town—the way businesses are (or should be) interacting with their audience. But how do you take advantage of social media when you’re selling a product and service people don’t always need?

People generally need self-storage when they have transition in their lives. They’re moving a home, moving abroad, moving in, moving out, going through a death or divorce, opening a new business, closing an old one, expanding, contracting, coming or going. These are your customers. No one wakes up in the morning and says, “I really want to rent a self-storage unit today.” They have a problem, and renting additional space for a period of time will solve it.

One of the principal elements of your customers’ buying decision is convenience. This can cut down your target audience to people who are local. So how can you use social media to engage with people in your area who are in a state of transition? Social media is not about advertising; it’s about having a conversation and building relationships. It’s also about providing engaging content. Once we know who we want to have the conversation with, we can decide what’s interesting, helpful and engaging to that audience.

The transition your audience is going through will usually only be for a short period. It’s difficult to identify these individuals and be relevant to them at the right time (when they need your service). But think about those who speak to this audience all the time, such as realtors, funeral directors, lawyers, accountants, small-business advisory services, bank managers, removal companies, mortgage brokers, home stagers and the list goes on. Why don’t you start a conversation with these groups? This is where LinkedIn can help.

Consider Content

The power of LinkedIn is massive. It provides a commercial networking platform on a grand scale, with individuals and groups in just about every geographical and commercial area of interest. It allows you to connect directly with an individual and, in many cases, provides a forum through relevant LinkedIn groups in your area. If there isn’t a group, you can start one. It might not necessarily be about storage, but maybe about local business.

So here’s your audience. What are you going to discuss with them? Social media is not about direct advertising, so you’re not going to tell them your discount on 10-by-10 units this week. Instead, why not share your experience of how you helped someone pack up his home, or assisted a new tenant after an unexpected death in the family? Perhaps you have a commercial customer who just started a business and you’ve watched it grow.

Here are some other things to consider:

  • Share something interesting and relevant. Tell a story, sow the seed. What do you say when asked, “What is the weirdest thing you have stored at your facility?” This is interesting. (Mine is coffins. You get a very interesting reaction when they’re rolling down the corridor!)

  • Provide useful, interesting and engaging information. Remember that everyone is busy, so keep it short—500 to 750 words is about the limit.

  • Don’t expect the phone to ring off the hook. You’re building a relationship, and like any relationship, you have to work at it. It takes time, effort, consistency and commitment. People need to know, like and trust you before they will refer you.

  • This should not be one-way traffic. Start to engage with other contributors in your LinkedIn groups. If people connect with you, like or comment on your contribution, then reply. Comment on other articles. Before you know it, you’ll create a relationship.

  • Don’t just keep it online, either. Many local LinkedIn groups provide opportunities to attend networking events. Make sure you participate. You’ll be amazed how many people will have read your content, and putting a face to the name reinforces the relationship.

There are other online platforms such as Facebook and Twitter that can also be used in conjunction with LinkedIn or independently to create a wider network. Each one is slightly different and requires variations to the strategy adopted; but if used in a cohesive way, they can create a loyal following and engage customers and referral groups. LinkedIn is only one way to use social media—a way of getting your name heard, so when someone has a problem, he knows where to turn to for the solution.

Jon Wyles is the founder of Smart Storage, a five-store business, and a self-storage consultant based in Vancouver, Canada. He assists owners of storage businesses in Asia, Canada, Europe and the United States. To reach him, call 604.628.1749; e-mail [email protected]; visit www.simplystorageexpert.com.

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