The digital age has shifted the buying process for the majority of consumers. Gone are the days when in-person word-of-mouth was the most trusted source of information. Consumers are now relying on information that’s available online to tell them what they need to know about a business, the new word-of-mouth.

Every industry, from restaurants to self storage properties, needs to be aware of what consumers are sharing about their experience. Reviews matter more than you think. Just one negative review on an online review site drives away 30 new customers. As the impact of online reviews rise, businesses are relying on social media and reputation management services to track online presence and consumer feedback. Most low-cost or even free services provide access to your social media accounts in a fragmented way. Perhaps you log in to TweetDeck to monitor and post on Twitter and then use Facebook’s internal services to analyze last week’s posts. There is even greater fragmentation when you look at reviews on Yelp and Google.

Consumers Rely on Online Reviews to Make Decisions

According to a PEW Research Center social media survey, more than 65 percent of Americans 18-65 years old use Facebook, and most of them are daily users. YouTube is used by an even greater percentage. 90 percent of consumers read online reviews on social media platforms and review sites like Yelp and Google before they visit a business. 83 percent of those readers will use those reviews to decide whether or not to make a purchase.

Historically, marketers have focused on brand awareness to try to impact their lead generation. But today’s self storage prospects aren’t driven by brand loyalty. In fact, 82 percent of prospects do not have a particular location in mind when they start to look for self storage. Even on the day of a move, only 89 percent of customers have leased a unit. This means being visible online with a mobile-friendly website, a local search strategy, social media accounts, and active review pages is more important than ever.

In order to capture a prospect’s attention, it’s important to structure your social media accounts to be up-to-date and include easy action steps, such as a contact button, application, tour, or online leasing option. Many customers want to see the property and units before making a decision to rent. A virtual tour of the grounds, leasing office, and range of units will help them make a more informed and faster decision.

Review sites allow you to confirm ownership of your business and manage the information, photos, videos, and call-to-action buttons that are shown on a review page. While you cannot delete or hide reviews, you many choose to respond directly to each customer review with positive feedback, gratitude, or changes made based on their feedback.

Opportunities to Respond to Reviewers in Real-Time

The high rate at which individuals are active on social media and review sites gives you the chance to learn and improve based on what they share. Being able to see what they like most and least about your property through keywords and sentiment reveals valuable insights and opportunities. These insights make online reviews much more influential than traditional word-of-mouth because it’s a more efficient and public way to show the interaction between a business and their customer.

For instance, let’s say you have several customers leave positive reviews about the cleanliness of your units and how friendly the staff is. With this feedback, you may choose to share an introductory video of your staff and add an online photo gallery that shows off the location. On the other hand, you may get a negative review about a customer’s frustrations with using your online payment portal. You’re now able to respond by improving (or adding) online payments and respond publicly to the customer to let them know you heard them and have responded appropriately.

When you respond to your critics and your advocates, you are able to build respect and trust with current and prospective customers. This respect and trust builds your overall reputation and leads to increased occupancy rates and asset value.

Stop Being Reactive, Take Control of Your Online Reputation

One question you may be asking is: “how can I find the time to manage my social media and review sites? And how do I analyze the all of the data and responses?” Social media and reputation management is a daunting and time-consuming task and nearly impossible without an automation tool like G5 Reputation and Social.

G5 Reputation and Social brings all your accounts and channels into one easy-to-use dashboard. The dashboard monitors your social media portfolio from more than 20 sites. It also monitors location mentions on Facebook, Twitter, and elsewhere online. A daily email will recap social media activity, reviews, and online mentions. G5 Reputation and Social will also analyze billions of online conversations to identify key topics that will drive better customer experiences for your property.

Learn more about G5 Reputation and Social Management with our quick overview.