Ever wonder how you can possibly make your storage facilities relevant on social media? StorageAhead's social media manager, Abby Madison will go over best practices for tweeting, sharing and making even G+ work for the self storage industry. No matter how many locations you have, we'll share the best advice for generating leads and increasing customer satisfaction in the social media realm. Don't miss out - Abby presents on October 3.
Hi everyone, I’m Abby Madison, and today we’re going to be talking about social media. I am a social media manager here at StorageAhead and I’m really excited to be talking to you guys today about some of the different platforms you can be on and all kinds of good stuff. Let’s go ahead and get started.
Alright. So, today we’re going to be talking about why you should be social. First of all, everybody knows that social media is really big right now and it’s not going away. It’s really important that you understand that a lot of your customers are on social media, and we’ll talk about that here in a second with a couple of different numbers for you to look at. We’re also going to talk about the different platforms that you should be on. There are a lot of them out there – all kinds of big stuff – there’s Instagram, Pinterest, all kinds of things. We’re going to talk about just three big ones that you should be focused on and why. We’re also going to talk about how you should be interacting with each one. There are different communities on the different platforms, so we’ll talk about that, how to set up a page, and all of that good stuff. Finally, we’ll talk about the best practices of posting. We’ll give some examples specific to the self storage industry and we’ll make sure that is really well covered for you so that you know how to grow and keep your following.
Why be social? 73% of people who are on social media say that they follow businesses to stay updated on upcoming products. That’s really important because you know that’s really good for your discounts, it’s really good for people to follow brands that are constantly coming out with new stuff. That doesn’t necessarily always apply to self storage, but you’re going to have promotions and stuff like that, so that’s really important to know. 63% of people on social follow to show their support for the business. That’s really awesome too. If you’re really big in your community, that’s a pretty high number of people just wanting to show support for you. 61% of people on social media follow to engage with the business. They want to give feedback, they want to talk about if they’ve had a good or bad experience, and that’s good on both accords. We’ll talk about that a little bit later, too.
The most important thing to know is that you’re trying to build up your brand trust. Social media shows people a side of your business that they don’t see on your website, and maybe they don’t even see when they’re in the facility and taking part in your storage brand. They like to see a bunch of different things and they want to see the personable side of you – the side that social media is kind of known for – being social! We’ll cover that more as we go and it will be sort of a common theme. So just remember that brand trust is really, really important. It’s something that’s going to affect a lot of times if somebody wants to rent with you, especially in younger generations.
We’re going to talk about three different platforms today; Facebook, Twitter and Google Plus. These are really big runners on the playing field of social media. Obviously Facebook has been around for a while, Twitter is a big one too, and then Google Plus – we’re going to talk about that today because it’s going to affect your SEO – that’s a really big runner also.
Let’s talk about Facebook first. 88% of businesses will be on Facebook by 2014. That basically means that everybody expects your business to be on Facebook – that’s just sort of a common theme. Basically, if you’re not on there, they’re looking for you, they’re trying to find you, and I know I speak for myself when I say that I’ve gone on Facebook before to find a business – not necessarily for self storage – but just a lot of things. If I don’t find them on Facebook, I’m not necessarily writing them off my list, but it is nice to see – once again – it builds up my brand trust for that company or business. We like Facebook because it’s visually centered. They have the newsfeed and it’s really great, because if you’re posting photos and videos, you’re going to take up a lot of that space. You can write text and you can do all kinds of good things, but photos and videos show up really big on the newsfeed. That’s really important to remember – that’s an important quality of Facebook. Another really nice thing about Facebook that you won’t find with a lot of other platforms is that they have free analytics tools. After you reach 30 likes on your Facebook page, you can start seeing those. Basically anything from the demographic of your followers, to how popular every post is, and how many people it reached – it’s really a great tool. You can also go in there and download Excel files of everything and keep it. That’s a really neat thing and a good deal to take advantage of.
Let’s go ahead and start taking a look at what Facebook actually looks like and get started. Here we have Facebook’s official fan page, and they have a lot of likes! We’re using them as an example today and we’ll go ahead and make this into a storage page. First off, we’ve made the logo as the profile picture. The reason the logo is the profile picture is that it goes back to brand trust. We’re building up your brand and we’re putting this here because it’s going to be next to all of your posts. You want your logo to be next to every post because, basically, it’s going to be representing you. A picture of your facility would be fine here, but it’s not going to distinguish you from anybody else – not as much as your logo would. We also have the cover photo here, which is really great for showing your facility off. This is a stock photo, but you could probably go out with your iPhone and take a decent picture of your facility and get this uploaded right away – it’s about the right resolution for that, so keep that in mind. Another thing that we need to make sure that we’re doing is that your “About” section is consistent across all of your channels. Regardless of what social media you decide to be on, you want to make sure your “About” section has your phone number the same as everywhere else, your name the same, and then your address. You also get a little space to talk about what you guys do, so make sure that looks really good and that you’re very clear in what you do and not spammy – that’s really important.
Widgets – these are unique to Facebook and are plug-ins you can get. They’re a little more advanced – once you start building up your Facebook page you can look into that. They’re not necessary for having a good Facebook page, but they are useful. If you wanted to maybe have a link out to your website that’s a little bigger right there, all kinds of different things. They’re something to play around with but are useful depending on what you want to use them for.
Likes – This is the amount of people who will see your posts in their newsfeed. This is pretty important. It’s not necessarily that every single person that likes your page is going to see every single post, but the more engaged your community is, the more likely they are to see it.
And then finally, your newsfeed. This is where all of your posts are going to be, and the most recent ones are going to be at the top unless you’ve highlighted them. Usually it’s good to highlight something if it’s a promotion that you’re running for a short amount of time, or anything like that. This is the Facebook page in a nutshell.
Let’s talk about Twitter. Twitter is a little different. It’s more of a micro-blog, so basically what that means is that there aren’t pictures that show up in your newsfeed, it’s all text or links to pictures that you have to click to open them. The stuff that is going to take up somebody’s newsfeed is purely text with 117 characters, maximum. To utilize that space, you want to make sure that you’re witty, and that you’re taking advantage of good content there. A great way to reach your customers is to be on Twitter. There are a lot of younger people that are on Twitter, and it’s a great way to promote yourself, to interact with customers, and we’ll talk about that as we look at Twitter and how you interact a little bit more.
Here is Twitter’s official page. You’ll see that they have a checkmark – Facebook had one, too. Here is the checkmark, and you have to earn that – it’s not something you can ask for, unfortunately. You have to be a pretty big brand or celebrity in order to “earn” one of these deals. Once again, we have the logo as a profile picture. Going back to having this next to every post – that’s really important. You are representing a brand, not a person. You’ll want to make sure that’s your logo right there and then a photo of your facility in the cover photo area which will show up on mobile and on the internet. Also, you want to make sure your content is consistent.
The bio is interesting because with Facebook you have a bigger “About” section to fill out, whereas with Twitter, you get this small amount of space. It’s really important that you utilize that and that it isn’t spammy and is really good. You also have a space that is right beneath that if you have a facility that you’re representing and not an entire brand, you can put that “we’re located in Kansas City, here’s our website” – you can put the website there also.
The background used to be a little more popular; it’s gotten less so just because a lot of the people who get on Twitter are on mobile and it doesn’t show up on the app side of things, so it’s not as important. If you want to spend time on it, I wouldn’t blame you. It never hurts to have a little extra happening anywhere, but I wouldn’t worry about it too much. Just use something that is appropriate with your branding – it can even be just a flat color that matches. So, that’s the background.
Your Twitter feed. This is your page, so these are all of your tweets. They are things that you have written, things that you have retweeted, anything that someone tweets at you will not show up here. That’s really good because if you have a disgruntled customer who is kind of spamming you or driving you nuts, it’s not going to show up on your page. It is going to show up with their followers, but the people that follow you aren’t going to see it, so that’s really good and a nice feature of Twitter.
Followers and following. On this page, you can see that this was originally Twitter’s that we put pictures over, so you can see that they have quite a few Followers and not a lot that they’re following. As a brand, you want to make sure that you have at least the same amount of people that you’re following and have followers of. If you have 300 people you’re following and 350 followers, that’s good. I mean, it’s probably better to have more people that are following you as a brand than people that you’re following back, but it’s totally up to you. It’s not good, in comparison, to have 500 people that you’re following and 20 people that are following you, if you know what I mean.
Here is the Twitter feed, we’re going to break this down a little bit. People retweet and then post their own stuff. Here’s a retweet. Clearly the NFL and Twitter have some kind of partnership going on, so they tweeted at Twitter, Twitter got the alert, and then they said “well, we’ll retweet this, this looks good.” So, NFL saw this tweet, anybody that follows the NFL saw this tweet, and then anybody who follows Twitter also saw it, so it’s kind of a double hitter, which is really great. That’s why retweets are so popular. When you tweet at someone, that alerts the person that you’ve tweeted at, but it doesn’t show up to your followers unless you retweet it.
Hashtags. Hashtags are really great and a good tool of Twitter that reach a lot of people because they’re set up kind of like links. If you were to tweet about #storage and somebody clicked on #storage, they’d see every single tweet that ever had #storage in it. Sometimes hashtags are a little bit abused, you want to make sure you’re not putting them in every single tweet. They’re nice to put in occasionally if they’re relevant, but don’t abuse them – it’s kind of spammy if you abuse them.
We’re doing a little interactive and fun contest during this that has to do with hashtags. If you tweet @StorageAhead with the hashtag #SAwebinars, you can win a StorageAhead t-shirt. We’ll announce the winner of that later, but just keep that in mind – it’s kind of a fun little contest that we’re going to be doing for the rest of the webinar. Anytime during the webinar, if you tweet at us, #SAwebinars, you can be entered to win one of our t-shirts, so that’s kind of cool!
Let’s talk about Google Plus. This one is kind of a new one, it’s a little tricky, so not a lot of people are on it with their personal profiles, so we’ll go into explaining it a little bit more in depth. Basically, it’s Google’s solution to social media. A lot of people have Gmail – if you have Gmail you can get a Google Plus page really easily. For SEO purposes, if you have a website that you’re trying to get better page ranking for, this is a really great tool for you to be on. It reminds me a lot of how Google Maps are good for SEO – anything that’s connected to Google, they’re going to reward you for being on, so I would keep that in mind. It’s also a really great way for Google to crawl your pages faster. If you have a blog, or if you have a website and you’ve added a new page to your website or a new post on your blog, and you post it to your G+ page, Google is going to see it a lot faster and they’re going to reward you for that. That’s something that is really cool about G+ and right now it’s one of the best social media platforms out there for increasing your SEO, which is saying a lot about social media.
Here is Google’s G+ page. Let’s turn it into a storage social page. When you get to these pages, you can click on “follow” – see this red button right here? And they have a lot of followers! So if you clicked on that, you would get this little popup right here that says following and also has circles underneath it. That can be a little confusing, but basically what it means is, if you’re following somebody, you’re seeing public posts from them. If you’re adding them to circles, you’re kind of categorizing them. Maybe you want your co-workers to see something that you don’t need your customers to see, or you want people in the industry to see something that you don’t want your customers to see or that you don’t think they’d care about. So you would change up who you are posting to. It’s a good way to get organized and I would start doing the circles early because otherwise you are going to get overwhelmed in the future when it blows up.
There is an “About” section that is pretty in depth and you can do a lot with that, so keep that in mind. It’s the same with Facebook – you have a lot more space. Here is their very large cover photo – this is a big one – so keep that in mind when you’re uploading a picture for this, it has to be pretty big to look good. Otherwise, it’s going to look pixelated and that is kind of the unfortunate thing about the G+ pages right now is the GIANT, GIANT cover photo. Just a word to the wise – use a higher resolution, quality photos for this.
Again, keeping your logo in the avatar area “profile pic” – make sure that is showing up right there because that is really important.
Here’s your newsfeed. This is where all of your posts are going to show up, really similar to how Facebook does it. They also have a hashtag, if you can see, really small in the right corner of every post. They’ve kind of combined the two, which is cool and in the future I am sure is just going to blow up. They also have a similar thing to “likes” but it is much more important in the SEO realm of things. Google values plus ones far more than they value likes in social media. Plus ones are also called recommendations, and then there are the shares which are similar to retweets or shares on Facebook, and it’s basically just showing it to your own followers. Plus ones are really important, so that’s good stuff to remember.
Alright, so let’s talk about how you should be posting. Basically, you just need to remember, completely and totally, that you represent a business. You are not representing yourself; you are the face of the business when you are posting on social media. Make sure you have an appropriate tone. I like to say that you want to interact on social like you would at a networking event. You’re business professional, you’re in your khakis, your polo, your tie, what have you – and you’re talking to people. You’re asking them how their day is, you have a conversational tone. In the balance of things, I think it’s better to err on the side of being more professional than it is to be too casual – especially for something like self storage where you want people to really trust your professional opinion on things. It’s just really important to make sure that you don’t err on the side of being too casual, because that can probably hurt you in the long run. Also, you want to make sure you’re posting relevant material. We’ll talk a little bit about this and I’ll show you some examples, because it’s hard to just visualize what’s appropriate, what’s not, and what’s relevant. Let’s show an example – and before we dive into who these people are, these are two food places in my hometown. This one is a sandwich shop – Barn’rds – it’s really good, I grew up right next to it and ate at it pretty much my whole life. The other one we’re going to talk about is a donut shop that I also really love. I went out on my own accord and I liked both of these pages because I wanted to support them, which goes back to the percentages that we talked about earlier. I’ve been getting posts from Barn’rds, and these are two of their most recent ones. This first one right here is about a Philly Cheesesteak Sandwich, which I didn’t even know that they had, and I’ve been eating there my whole life! That was pretty exciting and I’m sure next time I’m in town I’m going to try this. If you see, it was a little higher response when they talked about the sandwich, which is pretty good for their following, for the amount of people that are on there. It looks like somebody even went in and had the sandwich, which is awesome. That’s what you want with social media – you want it to be effective. You want people to actually come in, rent from you, and spend money. This is the whole point. In comparison, most of their posts are about random philosophical quotes, which is irrelevant to what they do. People like it because it’s a family-owned restaurant, and I’m sure a lot of people that like the page are friends of the people that own it. I think it’s fun that they’re on there, but it’s not helping them in the long run, it’s not really improving their ROI, so to speak, on their social media.
Let’s compare this with the Donut Whole. The Donut Whole is a donut shop, of course, so obviously posting pictures of food is different than storage, because you can’t really post pictures that are super enticing of storage all the time that are new, fresh and exciting. But it’s always good to be creative. They are really good about playing into the visual elements of Facebook, as opposed to maybe a picture of the Philly Cheesesteak on Barn’rds would have been awesome. If you look, their response is way higher. Part of that is because they have like 3,000 likes, which is really huge for my hometown, and that’s awesome. Part of this is because they’re posting about their product, they’re posting really fun, conversational posts. But at the same time, they’re also engaging with community. Keep ICT Weird is a funny Wichita saying and obviously people thought that was really cool. There is actually a bigger response on that one than there was about their product. So that’s just one of the things to remember when you’re posting about storage – to be social and engage with your community.
So that brings me to this: recently, one of our business developers – some of you may even have talked to him, his name is Austin – and he just had a baby. So one of the things that you want to remember when you are posting is if your employees are okay with it, to bring them in and brag on them. Say, you know, this guy is the employee of the month because they did this – and if it’s okay with them, take a picture of them and tag them. You’re going to increase your reach HUGE. If you see, we increased it to 509 people, which is really, really huge for us on the RNL side of things. Also, if you’re involved in a local charity or your community or you just love the town that you’re in, sometimes it’s just nice to just post about that. People that are in the community that are liking your page, it’s really good for them to see that you aren’t just a megaphone. You’re engaging, you’re being social – which is sort of the whole point of social media, so that’s a really good thing to do.
Some other stuff to keep in mind is that you want to think like a customer. Maybe people want to see video tours of the facility – and you don’t have to post these every day – but you can have them as a resource for people to see. You can also post some moving tips, organization tips with a picture of some cool, creative things you could do in your house for organizing – people love that kind of stuff. A huge resource for that is Pinterest if you’re trying to build up a good database of that, Pinterest is a really good place to go and get pictures (and link back to them, of course), but to get ideas for that. And then also promotions and discounts. I wouldn’t be heavy on this, that’s why I listed it last, but it is really good. People like to see that you’re giving out promotions and maybe this is the only way that they see your promotions, so that's important also.
Some final thoughts on this. Social media is a great way to reach more people. You’re going to build your brand trust and you’ll also have the opportunity to help your SEO, depending on what platform you’re on. That being said, it is better to have no social media than to have inactive accounts. It goes back to brand trust and if you see that people haven’t posted in a year and sometimes I have gone onto Facebook or Twitter and have seen that somebody doesn’t have anything going on, and they haven’t posted in a while, and maybe they don’t even have a website – I’m not going to drive over there and check it out because I’m going to assume that they are closed. It is better to have nothing than something that isn’t really going on. But, that being said, it’s not a huge commitment and you shouldn’t be – depending on how large your brand is, of course – but per each account you should really probably only spend about 30 minutes a few times a week on this, and that’s maximum. You shouldn’t be posting every day, every hour. It shouldn’t take that much out of you. It’s social media, it’s fun! You shouldn’t spend too much time on it, basically. If you are unable to focus on all three of these (or more), try to find the best one that works for you and works for your customers. If you’re trying to just build up your community and you have really good pictures and you really like to post about that – all of your employees are on Facebook and they’re really gung ho about it, Facebook is a really good place to go. If you have a website and you’re trying to increase your SEO, G+ is a great place to be. Just consider that when you’re trying to decide where to be.
Before we get to the questions, we’re going to talk about Peter Soto. He’s having a webinar on October 24th. You can see his video and he talks about what he’s going to cover in this link building webinar. It’s going to be really, really awesome! You can see it at storageahead.com/self-storage-webinars – he will be at the top as the upcoming webinar, probably now it should be up. That’s really awesome and it’s going to be a really good webinar.
Alright, go ahead and chat me your questions if you have any. I’ll wait a second and let those come in, take a drink of water, and we can dive into those! Looks like we have a little bit of time left for that.
Okay, here’s one:
Q: What’s a good way to kick off my social media followings?
A: A good way to do that is to start adding links and widgets to your website and then adding even to your printed materials “follow us on Twitter for discounts,” “make sure you like us on Facebook for promotions,” – things like that. Just starting to make it full circle with all of your marketing materials, that’s a really good thing to do. Small giveaways when you start is a really good way to increase that – I know Facebook just changed their contest rules, so it’s a little bit more lax, whereas before you had to use a third-party app to do a Facebook contest. Now you can have people liking posts in order to be entered for a small giveaway, things like that. That’s a really good way to look at just kicking off your following. I know it’s really hard to go from zero to 200 overnight; it does take time, so be patient with it. Another way is just to get on there and follow people and be social and say “I’m out here, share it on your personal page and say hey that’d be really great if you could just follow us.”
Let me look at some more questions. Okay, here’s one:
Q: What are your thoughts on paid promotions through Facebook and Twitter?
A: Twitter has paid promotions and that’s fairly new. Facebook has been pretty heavy on it for a while. Basically, it’s more of a personal preference. I haven’t really seen it do super well. It just depends – it’s okay if you want to go ahead and try and spend maybe $50 on it, just experiment with it and see what happens. For the most part, it’s probably better to spend your marketing dollars on something like a smaller giveaway – maybe give away three months of storage to a random person who liked a post – things like that. It’s good to go and see – there are lots of really great blog posts out there about how to do Facebook contests and Twitter contests – obviously we just did one. They’re really easy to do, they’re cheap. I would recommend putting your money more into something like a giveaway, but it doesn’t hurt to try it. Let’s see, I’m going to answer two more questions. This first one says:
Q: I have a lot of facilities that need social media. Is there a way to manage all of those?
A: If you don’t have time to be posting live time/real time, there is this tool called Hootsuite that is free up to about five accounts, I believe. It’s a really great tool for people to schedule posts ahead of time, and then you can also manage multiple accounts in one place. That’s a really cool tool, I would definitely recommend checking that out if you feel like you can’t be posting during hours that people would be on Facebook, Twitter or G+.
Alright, we have time for one more question. Okay, this question says:
Q: We’re followed by a lot of competitors. Should we ever write for the industry or is that bad for customers to see behind the scenes?
A: I think it’s really good to be transparent. I wouldn’t give away all of your secrets, by any means, but it is good for people to see that you’re a transparent business, that you’re open to showing customers what goes on when they’re not coming in and storing. I know self storage is different because there isn’t a whole lot of interaction between you and them, so it’s really good for them to see how personable you are as a company and your employees. I would encourage you to not go too crazy with the behind the scenes stuff or post all of your marketing and trade secrets, but it’s okay to be a little transparent, and I think people appreciate that.
Alright, that is all the time that we have. Thank you guys SO much for taking part and I will contact the winner of our Twitter contest personally, and we’ll announce that also via Twitter. Thank you so much for being here and we hope to see you next time! Thanks.