By Amy Belasen and Amanda Patterson
What began as a networking site for the Ivy League grew into a site with more than 400 million active users across the world. As of July 2010, social media accounts for 11% of all time spent online in the US. Based on these numbers, some self storage businesses have been jumping in head-first—but should they?
Social media is often leveraged as a customer service tool. Facebook walls and Twitter messages are a great place to ask and answer questions, creating a dialogue with potential customers that can be seen by all. For a more private consultation, the Facebook message feature might be your conversation tool of choice. Personal interactions let clients know that you are important to them.
Social media can also make sense for storage when it comes to event marketing promotion. According to the July Issue of SSA Globe magazine, “Store Self Storage of Palm Beach Gardens successfully used social media to get 1,000 people to attend their yard sale and 800-plus people to attend other events.” Hosting events at your storage facility allows people to see the facility in a unique and fun environment. Social media can be a great tool to help you spread the word. If you have a Facebook fan page, you can create an event and invite your fans via status updates to RSVP. You can also create Facebook ads that drive them to your website for more information (via a landing page) or to your Facebook event page.
Facebook ads can be a cost-effective way to geo-target your customers and drive them to your storage properties. Because they are pay-per-click, you can set the limit on the ad spend and target them based on specific regions and age/gender demographics. Facebook allows you to target ads based on birthdays, likes, interests, connections, education, and more. However, these ads will only target people who have opted to include that information in their profile, and such precise targeting could be too limiting.
The Dissatisfied Customer
Social media is powerful because it’s a public forum and it gives your customers a voice. That is also what makes it unsettling to companies who are used to controlling the conversation about their brand. Using privacy settings to manage posts before they are published to your wall is one way of censoring unhappy customers, but companies still have no control over what others say on their own walls. If a bad experience at your facility is tweeted or posted on a social media site, use your discretion to address the issue. Some comments are best responded to on the public forum while others may require speaking to the dissatisfied customer over the phone. Regardless, social media is an opportunity for you to promptly and publically respond with resolution of the issue.
If you’re thinking about dipping your foot into social waters, our advice is to be strategic about it. Make sure that your social media efforts are supporting a bigger strategy, whether it’s your customer service strategy, your event and PR strategy, or your marketing strategy. Have objectives and determine up front how you will measure success. Don’t just put up a Facebook page and expect people to “like” you – give them a reason to.