Fewer than one in 50 online purchases come through social media channels like Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and Google+. This statistic recently popped at a presentation hosted by Denver-based Webolutions, a strategic marketing agency.
The presenters then noted that social media works most effectively as a customer engagement and retention tool. In other words, use it to build relationships with and referrals from those already doing business with you—and don’t count on social media alone to drastically drive up your sales. It’s also valuable in slowly building relationships with non-customers.
Right about now, you may be saying: “I sell storage space, nothing more, nothing less. People store and stay based on their needs. If social media doesn’t lead directly to sales, why would I use it?”
Obviously, some tenants lease storage space based on finding the best deal for a secure, convenient space. They couldn’t care less about customer retention or relationship-building.
But there’s a whole other segment of would-be tenants who do shop for self-storage facilities that meet both their storage and emotional needs. These customers often are willing to pay more for a storage unit with higher perceived value—whether it’s exceptional security, great customer support, an aesthetically pleasing environment or special perks. For these folks, your online reputation—including but not limited to social media—will go a long toward sealing or spoiling the deal.
Online reputation is tied to your facility’s performance and your company’s standing in the marketplace. According to a report from PR firm Weber Shandwick, how consumers view a company’s reputation is critical to their buying decisions, PRmoment.com reported. Seventy percent of consumers surveyed avoid buying products if they don’t like the parent company.
The PRmoment.com article outlines what influences consumer perceptions about companies. They are:
1. What people say (88 percent).
2. Online reviews (83 percent).
3. Online search results (81 percent).
4. News sources (79 percent).
5. Company website (74 percent).
6. Awards and rankings (63 percent).
7. Company leader communications (59 percent).
8. Advertising (56 percent).
9. Social networks (49 percent).
What are the key takeaways for the self-storage business?
1. Pay attention to word-of-mouth chatter, online reviews, online search results and news. Constantly check to see how you’re perceived online. Trumpet the positive on your website; address the negative by improving performance where warranted and reaching out to those who’ve written negative reports. People like companies that acknowledge and fix their problems.
2. Vie for awards. Awards typically are viewed as objective third-party endorsements and are powerful in building a positive reputation.
3. Become a community leader and industry thought leader. Do everything from writing expert advice columns for targeted media outlets to lining up speaking gigs at community and industry forums.
4. Use advertising and social media to spread information that helps your reputation. While social media networks may not be the largest factor in consumer decision-making, they do play a big role in spreading the word about reputation-related issues addressed elsewhere—as anyone who’s seen a tweet go viral will attest.