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July 26, 2018
Social media marketing is pitched as the next frontier in reaching your customer.
All the big brands are on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter (sorry, X), and others, connecting with customers and getting their brand out there.
This can make storage operators feel like they’re getting left behind if they’re not investing in social media marketing.
But is it actually important to be on these platforms? What are you missing, what might you get, and what will it cost you?
Social media marketing in self storage is the use of social platforms like Instagram, TikTok, Facebook, X, Pinterest, YouTube, etc. to engage with and advertise to potential customers.
Businesses do this to build their brand recognition and create a positive reputation among their target demographics.
Social media marketing is especially important for businesses that sell products online - it can work as free advertising with unlimited reach if your social media team is the best of the best (or if they get really lucky).
For brands like fast food chains, retailers, and online services, this marketing reach can bring in big business. They can reach customers that haven’t heard of them and create a good impression with those who have.
Self storage isn’t like other businesses, though.
According to the 2023 SSA Demand Study, self storage customers come from within twenty miles of the storage facility.
That means a global reach, even if you could somehow manage it, won’t do you any good.
If you can convince people to drive across the state or the country, because of your social media marketing, let us know - we have a job for you!
The demand study also tracked how customers found the storage facility they were renting with.
Only 4% of customers found the facility through social media.
Across StoragePug sites, we’ve seen even less – only 1% of web traffic is coming from social media.
That’s compared to 40+% from all online sources and nearly 40% from simply driving by.
That doesn’t mean social media marketing isn’t useful for self storage - it just means that this shouldn’t be your focus!
If you’re working on a limited budget, there are many more important self storage marketing tactics.
On the other hand, once you’ve got a website that can do online rentals and a handle on your SEO - then social media marketing can do you some good.
If storage operators aren’t finding new customers through social media, what good does it do?
Small storage businesses can’t compete with the REITs on marketing budget or overall web presence - but you can create a better connection with your community.
There are many ways to go about this.
A strong referral program can encourage your happy customers to tell their friends and family about your business. Good self storage SEO can ensure your business is shown as an option when people start looking for a storage facility.
Social media marketing can complement these efforts, and help you show that your business is a part of the community.
Social media marketing can be effective at amplifying your cause marketing, local sponsorships, and good relationships with local businesses and associations. However, this only works if you choose the right social media channels.
Instagram, TikTok, and Twitter aren’t local. They share trends and can drive purchases as those who use them are influenced by their favorite social media personalities. You may have seen studies showing that younger generations are even shopping through social media - certainly, some brands think this is a promising way to find buyers, given their social media ad spend.
This isn’t applicable to self storage, though. Our business is different. Gen Z may be buying clothes, shoes, food, cars, and concert tickets based on what the cool kids are doing, but there is no cool storage facility.
Storage is a solution to a problem. People want it to be convenient, affordable, and safe, with additional amenities contributing to these.
So, trendy social media sales aren’t an option - as shown in the demand study. Instead, you should focus on local social media. In most cases, this means Facebook, but there are other local options. Choose whichever ones are most relevant to your community.
You don’t need to post all the time or try to go viral with jokes or memes (though you shouldn’t be afraid to show a little personality). Here’s what you should be posting instead:
Remember, your goal in social media is to bolster your reputation. Show that you’re a good business, that people in your community trust you, and that you give back to that community.
Give people reasons to rent from you, but don’t expect them to click from Facebook to your website immediately. Instead, you want to be an option - one that comes to mind when they eventually do need storage.
Self storage SEO is tricky - everything plays into it a little bit, so you’ll hear people suggesting X, Y, and Z to help your SEO.
Social media is one of those commonly-recommended SEO-boosting tactics. And it does work! But, like with rentals, it may not be the best way to spend your limited time and money.
Social media clicks (ie, when a user clicks on your business link from social media) do count as a positive signal for Google and other search engines.
These clicks are only useful if the user is happy to end up on your site. If you post some funny pictures, they click on your page, and it’s a self storage rental site rather than a meme aggregator, they’re going to leave immediately
That actually hurts your SEO. People that come to your site and don’t find what they need will show Google that your site isn’t giving people what they’re looking for.
This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t use social media - just that you shouldn’t hope to generate a whole bunch of clicks to boost your SEO. Craft your posts so that anyone who clicks on your links is actively looking for self storage, rather than farming clicks for the sake of clicks.
If your social media posts are only bringing in people who actually need storage, that’s perfect. Don’t try to get as many clicks as possible. Just like with anything else in online marketing, it’s much better to find the right people than it is to find more people.
This is the key way self storage social media differs from social media use in other businesses. Fast food restaurants have customers everywhere - you have customers in the twenty miles or so around your facility.
Going viral would be cool, but your audience is exclusively local. Focus your energies there.
Self storage social media can be a helpful addition to your existing marketing efforts, but it shouldn’t be a focus in and of itself.
Use social media to share the things you’re doing in your community. Share your cause marketing, share your event hosting, and share your local sponsorships. Make a post about the little league team whose jerseys you helped pay for, or share the posts they make with a bit of encouragement.
If you’re not already doing these community-building, outreach activities, then you’re not going to have a lot to post on social media. If you don’t have a good self storage website, then people won’t be able to rent from you even when they do find a need for storage!
Remember your goal: use social media to build your reputation as part of your community.
This will lead to people knowing about you (in a good way), which will eventually lead to more rentals. However, if you don’t have any ways to build a good reputation in your community, work in those areas first. Even if you’re working on a tiny budget, you can help out local causes in other ways.
Host a garage sale for the neighborhood, host a blood drive, or donate a spare storage unit to local charities. Once you’ve got that under control, then you can start using social media to get the good word out!
To read more about my favorite StoragePug features, take a look at: