The future of marketing your storage facility doesn’t exist on paper; it exists online. As the self storage industry continues to grow, the need for a strong web presence is more important than ever. This is where social media comes into play. It doesn’t matter if your facility’s current Facebook page has 30 likes or 30,000 likes. What matters is that you’re using it—along with other social media channels—correctly. Because social media is an ever-changing beast, this is often easier said than done. Luckily, with a little know-how and the right strategy, using social media to bring new tenants to your storage facility doesn’t have to be hard. Whether you’re just starting out or looking to up your social media game, consider the following your guidelines to success.
Before you start using social media to market your storage facility, you have to figure out which platforms are appropriate for you. Different forms of social media seem to appear daily, and it can be hard to separate the ones that are merely trends from those with actual staying power. The best way to approach this is to keep your eye on emerging forms of social media while focusing the bulk of your effort on the ones that are tried and true. In other words, don’t dismiss anything but don’t invest too much of your time and money on a website or app that hasn’t proven itself quite yet.
Start with the two classics. Facebook is a highly effective form of marketing which allows you to reach a large market. Your storage facility’s Facebook page is by far the easiest way for you to reach your audience. Social media users—especially the millennial demographic—will spend more time on your facility’s Facebook page if it appears professional and active. In short, whether you’re sharing original content or content from related pages, you need to stick with it and avoid posting anything that looks like clickbait or has typos. The other essential form of social media is Twitter. Because of the 140 characters or less nature of this particular platform, posts that are succinct not only perform well; they’re mandatory. As with Facebook, you can use Twitter to share original content or share related content, perhaps from another self storage industry page.
If you’ve already mastered Facebook and Twitter, it might be time to consider less conventional forms of social media marketing for self storage. Instagram, YouTube and Pinterest are all ways to utilize content that’s strictly visual rather than text based. Both Instagram and YouTube allow you to post videos, though limitations on runtime on Instagram ensure that this social media channel is more photo based. Take advantage of the visual marketing potential of Instagram, YouTube and Pinterest by literally showing your customers what makes your facility great. You can demonstrate different storage unit sizes and features by either video or photo or take the opportunity to have some fun by allowing staff to appear on camera. Instagram and YouTube especially are great places to show some personality. If you’re friendly, authentic and even a little bit silly, customers will see your storage facility as a place where they can expect good customer service from actual human beings rather than from some corporate brand.
If you notice that a new form of social media is on the rise, take a moment to consider what it can do for your business. It’s easy to dismiss unusual forms of social media that don’t seem like they can do much in the interest of customer conversion, but consider this: If you’re amongst a small group of people who seriously consider the marketing potential of a newer form of social media, your voice on that platform is going to have more power. After all, with so many businesses capitalizing on the advertising power of Facebook, it’s often hard to stand out. If you use a less conventional—and therefore less saturated—form of social media, the audience that also engages with that platform will be more likely to see your message.
Perhaps the best example of this is Snapchat, the app that allows users to share photos and videos that disappear after being viewed. The impermanent nature of Snapchat is confounding to many marketing professionals, but that doesn’t mean it can’t be harnessed to work for you. Just like Instagram and YouTube, Snapchat is a great way to visually demonstrate what sets your storage facility apart from the pack. You can use a mix of photos and videos to reach new customers. Perhaps the most unique thing about Snapchat is the fact that when users look at your photos or videos (called “snaps”), there’s nothing else on their screen. Even if your video is only a few seconds long, it’s the only thing the user sees. Unlike Facebook or Twitter, there aren’t a bunch of other posts vying for attention while yours is being viewed. This gives you a serious opportunity to make an impression.
You are not at all obligated to use every single form of social media to market your self storage business. If you have the time for this, or better yet, someone on staff who can handle this exclusively, go for it, but otherwise focus on one or two social media channels that you feel comfortable with. Plan on posting original content from your facility’s blog or appropriate articles, videos and images from a self storage website that you aren’t in direct competition with. Post these at times when your potential customers are most likely to see them. Midmorning, midafternoon and after work hours are typically times when people are looking at their social media feeds. Avoid posting too early or too late in the day, and keep in mind the time zone (or multiple time zones) of your audience if you’re advertising for facilities in several different states. Remember to be consistent. If you’re going to post to Facebook and Twitter four times a week, make sure you do this every week. Even missing one or two weeks can negatively affect your strategy.
Utilize a mix of paid and unpaid social media marketing. For example, on Facebook, you can pay to boost posts which will allow them to reach a larger audience than they would organically. This doesn’t cost much, and it’s a great way to bring users to your Facebook page where they can see unpaid posts too. This will bring traffic to your facility’s website and will increase your search rankings on Google.
You can also use social media to offer online-only specials. For example, you post an ad to Facebook or Twitter offering college students a special discount if they like your page. You can capitalize on the fleeting nature of Snapchat by offering exclusive deals that only last as long as the snap is available for view (typically 24 hours).
Ideally, all of those blog posts, tweets, videos and social media specials are going to lead to increased occupancy for your storage facility. That being said, if you don’t notice an immediate uptick in customers after the first few weeks, or even months, of social media marketing, don’t assume that your strategy isn’t working. If you’re creating or sharing great content and that content is reaching a wide audience, you’re creating brand awareness. The social media user who sees the promotion you’re running on Facebook might not book a storage unit right away, but he will file away that information for later use. In other words, when that individual needs a storage unit down the road, your facility will come to mind.
Whatever social media forms you choose to focus on, and however you choose to go about it, always be consistent, be original and have fun. Your social media fans and new customers will like it, not just in the digital world, but in the real world as well.