When Cindy (who asked us not to use her last name) placed many of her belongings in a self-storage facility near her small town, she never imagined her lock would be cut and she would be robbed. Many of the items stolen were family heirloom antiques she was storing after selling her bed and breakfast. To add insult to injury, the thieves left worthless junk in its place.
After the initial shock wore off and Cindy didn’t feel she
received any support from the owner/operator of the facility, she decided to write
an online review. The facility didn’t have any active social media accounts,
but that didn’t matter. Cindy wrote a review on Yelp, a site that allows
reviews for any business online, regardless of whether your business is active
The moral of this story is that even if you’re not participating
in social media, the chance that social media is participating without you is
Social media is a fast and ever-changing online world that allows
you to interact with your customers. It can be a form of advertising, but it
really is more than that. “People really need to have a mental shift about
social media,” says Kit Yarrow, an industry expert and author of Decoding the New Consumer Mind. “It
really is about getting away from broadcasting messages to encouraging
There are many social media platforms including having your own
blog or video blog, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, Snapchat, YouTube,
LinkedIn, and the list goes on.
One quandary business owners might have is trying to figure out
which one to use. “You don’t have to do all of the platforms; pick one or two
you like the best and ones it seems your customers like most,” says Yarrow.
“Self-storage is a concept everyone understands, and the truth is
that self-storage owners really need to grab the attention of consumers if they
really want to boost their bottom line,” says Tabitha Jean Naylor, a Virginia-based
social media consultant with clients in the U.S. and across the globe.
We asked some industry and social media experts to weigh in on how
they are using social media within the industry.
If you weren’t aware of Twitter before the presidential campaign,
you’re probably aware of it now. No one has been as successful in building his
brand through Twitter and communicating directly with his audience than the
“Twitter is an outstanding platform to stay engaged with your
customers, to respond immediately to any issues, and to promote discounts and
new services,” says Naylor.
Easystore Self Storage, a facility in South Wales, U.K., uses
Twitter to talk to its followers about its amenities, which include 24/7 access
and great security, as well as other things customers and potential customers
should know. “We tweet links to specific pages on the different types of
storage offered,” says Simon Collins, public relations and social media
specialist for Compass Media Relations, which manages the facility’s accounts.
“However, we don’t want to be just 100 percent self-promotional with tweets, so
we also share useful resources and guides, including links to blog posts and
guest blog posts.”
Jeanne Dotson, director of Internet marketing strategy for The
Storage Group in Maitland, Fla., states that not making your social media
interaction all about promotion is what makes a successful campaign. “You want
to have an ongoing conversation with your tenants, give them useful information,
and, every once in a while, throw in marketing,” says Dotson.
That information might include writing a blog post (or hiring
someone to do it) about how to pack while moving or how to store appliances and
linking back to the post from your Twitter or Facebook pages. The more unique the
topic the better. Dotson notes one of their posts was directed at parents
during the holidays, advising them that their storage facility was a great
place to store presents so the kids are sure not to find them.
Nevertheless, Twitter has a limited number of characters.
Therefore, if you want longer interactions, the next best place to interact is
Is Still Relevant
While many social media experts have predicted
each year that Facebook will lose its relevancy, Mark Zuckerberg isn’t giving
up the number one slot for social media. According to The Next Web, Facebook
has 1.23 billion
monthly active users, 945 million
mobile users, and 757 million
With those kinds of numbers, you’re likely one of
them; and, if you are, you can undoubtedly set up a business page within
“Facebook is another really good social media platform, because
you can keep your existing customers informed while also promoting your
business to prospective customers,” Naylor says. “You can also post videos that
humanize your business and employees to connect with your customers.”
You can do many of the same things with your customers on Facebook
as you do on Twitter such as linking to blogs and articles, but you can also
write longer posts (although not too long). Facebook allows you to highlight
longer (positive) customer reviews as well.
The Storage Group uses its Facebook pages to highlight charity
events, post photos and videos, and, most importantly, ask questions of the
customers. “You ask questions about your facility and services and prompt them
to respond,” says Dotson. “You might be able to identify issues with the facility
that you weren’t aware of.” In addition to asking questions, encourage your
customers to leave a review on your Facebook page.
“Instagram is a great resource for self-storage centers to promote
their centers, especially with the new story and live features,” says Joselin
L. Estevez, social media director for X Factor Media in Cleveland, Ohio.
With these more visual forms of social media, creativity is king.
For example, you can show photos of interesting items customers have put in
storage (with their permission, of course) as well as post any specials on a
The story feature allows you to post a 15 second video, so you can
post a short of a new customer moving in (again, with their permission), last
minute deals, or interesting and fun facts about your facility.
The live feature allows you to post any live events such as
auctions, amenities at your center, or a tour of a unit or rental truck that
Snapchat also has many of the same benefits; which one you choose
really depends on which you prefer.
Prospects Of LinkedIn
While many business owners simply think as LinkedIn as a place to
network with others in their industry (Minico is present on LinkedIn), it can
also be a great resource for self-storage managers to find new customers.
“There are thousands of business owners on LinkedIn you can target
as potential customers,” says Naylor. “LinkedIn offers a sponsored email
service that identifies businesses that are geographically appropriate to your
business, which allows you to compose emails targeting each company.”
The sponsored email service is a pay service, but it might be
worth it given the marketing opportunities present on the platform.
Social media is here to stay. There aren’t as many new platforms being
developed as there was a few years ago, but the key is to pick one or two you
like, get on, and keep your message consistent.
Dos and Don’ts of Social Media
Don’t think that you have to post two to three times a day or even
every single day. “No one wants to hear from you two to three times a day,”
says Dotson. “Two times a week likely won’t overwhelm your followers. Any more
than that and you risk them unfollowing you.”
Use photos and short videos. “People like visuals,” says Yarrow.
Limit the “Live” function. “You don’t want to do anything
intrusive,” says Yarrow. “Live might feel too much like advertising.” If you
use “Live” on Facebook or other platforms, she advises to really limit its use.
Figure out where people are reviewing your facility. “People will
talk about you online whether you play or not,” says Yarrow. Therefore, make
sure you’re monitoring Yelp and Google reviews and anyplace else locals might
be talking about your facility.
Keep it positive. “A lot of research shows that consumers
understand there will be some negative reviews for a business and it shows that
people trust reviews more when there is a mix,” says Dotson. “The most
important thing is to respond to show you’re paying attention, that you take
the complaint seriously, and offer a solution.”
Fivecoat-Campbell is a freelance journalist based in the Ozark Mountains. She
is a regular contributor to MiniCo’s publications. Her business articles have
also appeared in Entrepreneur, Aol.com,
MSN.com, and The Kansas City Star.