“Tweet it or it didn’t happen.” Over the last several years, social media has become a primary means of communication. Not only are people connecting with long-lost high school classmates, but we can see what’s going on across the world in real time. Through platforms such as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, social-justice movements can take flight and a person can become an international superstar overnight.
Social media has also transformed the way businesses appear, advertise and interact with customers. As these platforms mature, more and more people turn to them for recommendations on where to eat, shop and even store their belongings.
The question is, how can we self-storage managers use social media to increase rentals and revenue? What can we learn from other business that adeptly use these platforms to market their services? Here are a few things I’ve learned over the years in relation to my facilities.
Embrace the ‘Trifecta’
Before you begin making profiles on every social media platform, there are three essentials to focus on first: Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. Facebook Business has become like Yelp, the Yellow Pages and Google all rolled into one. People of all ages look to Facebook for places to do business. Many companies strive to have reviews posted on Facebook vs. Google. About 100 million hours of video is watched every day on Facebook, according to Hootsuite, a social media management platform.
Since giving users the ability to turn their accounts into business profiles, Instagram has quickly become a go-to platform for small businesses. Being geared toward pictures and videos, it’s the perfect place to showcase your facility’s aesthetics and introduce customers to the management team. With Instagram Story, you can show what’s going on at your property in real time.
Twitter completes the trifecta. It’s popular with Millennials, and business is driven by hashtags and retweets. The platform has a 280-character limit on each post, so it forces you to get right to the point with what you want to tell followers.
Offer a Unique Outlook
In a world where social media users scroll through hundreds of blogs, pictures, articles and videos each day, if you want someone to stop and interact with your posts, you must stand out. It’s vital to include professional-looking photos and videos of your facility on the various platforms. It’s equally important to create other types of posts that are unique and will catch a user’s eye.
Memes—humorous photos or GIFs—have been a great success on my facility’s social media pages. If creative or funny enough, a meme could rapidly go viral. I began to post industry-related memes with the intent to be known as the “meme storage facility.” In fact, a local realtor who recently saw me at a community event and recognized the company logo on my shirt said he loves seeing my posts on his feed. It’s something I can do to differentiate my business from others.
Your unique posts could be video shorts, cartoons, storage or packing tips, or even inspirational quotes. Whatever you do, be distinctive!
It’s good to produce pictures, video and other content on social media. It’s better to “like” posts by other businesses and your customers. It’s best when you take a few minutes every day to interact with the people you’re following and those who are following you.
Facebook Business has turned away from liking and sharing others’ posts, but Instagram and Twitter have become the best places to interact. For example, I’ll offer congratulations to a customer whose child is graduating from high school or make an encouraging comment on the local YMCA’s post about an upcoming yoga class. I’ll even comment and retweet a competitor’s post if I think it’ll benefit those who look at my feed.
These platforms are also a good place to send direct messages. I’ve scheduled meetings with local businesses by communicating with them through Twitter. Interacting with other users on social media shows they’re in genuine interest, and others will be encouraged to do that on your profiles as well.
A social media “pro” will regularly update his accounts and keep them fresh. A follower who’s interested in storing at your facility may be disinclined to rent from you if the last update on your store’s Instagram profile was over a year ago. Your most recent Facebook pictures shouldn’t be from the Christmas 2017 move-in special. At first glance, it seems daunting to keep all—or even just one—of these accounts up to date. Thankfully, there are tools you can use to link all your social media platforms and revise them all at once.
For example, if I post on Instagram, my Facebook and Twitter accounts are updated instantaneously. There are times I’ll do this while I’m at the facility, but I’ve also written a Tweet or posted a video while I’m out of the office and marketing in the community. The technology at our fingertips (literally) makes it simple to post often and quickly. The key is to make it a habit.
If you’d love to integrate social media into your marketing strategy but don’t know much about it, there are countless blogs and podcasts about using social media for business. The platforms and technology change so quickly that we must stay educated. The Social Pros Podcast, available on iTunes, is a wonderful, informational, well-done resource for anyone who wants to learn more about social media marketing.
I also get advice from my teenage stepsons on what’s new. If you have children, grandchildren or younger relatives, use them as focus groups to find out what catches their eyes when scrolling. After all, they’re our future tenants!
Social media is vital for business growth and sustainability. Whether you have 100 facilities or just one, it’s important to learn how to use social media and use it well.
Steven Jeffers is the manager of Monster Self Storage in Seneca, S.C., and has five years of industry experience. He’s married with two teenage stepsons, and he loves to play disc golf and volunteer at his church. Monster operates nine locations: one in Georgia, two in North Carolina and six in South Carolina. Monster For more information, call 843.510.2096; visit www.monsterselfstorage.com.