It’s not hard to explain why every self-storage business should have a presence on Pinterest, the image-driven social media site. In fact, Debbie Lamb, a content strategist with digital marketing agency Linkmedia 360, can do it in less than 10 words.
“Self-storage isn’t pretty,” she said. “Pinterest can make it so.”
Don’t let the pretty pictures fool you; this addictive online bulletin board on steroids, where enthusiasts “pin” their own images and videos and “repin” others, may offer the biggest marketing bang for the buck online. Not only does Pinterest already outstrip Google +, LinkedIn and YouTube combined in online traffic, it also ranks ahead of Twitter and second only to Facebook for customer referrals. Its users are 80 percent women, roughly the same audience that rents storage units.
The best part? “Pinterest is free,” Lamb said. “The only cost is the time you spend doing it.”
Cynthia Sanchez, the marketing expert behind Oh So Pinteresting, said that beneath the hearth-and-home vibe of Pinterest beats a powerful marketing engine that independent storage operators are using successfully to level the playing field with major storage brands.
“Each pin within Pinterest has six or seven links that can take people back to your website,” Sanchez said. “That’s a lot when you consider that Twitter or Facebook has one, maybe two links at the most.”
The results can be impressive.
“Some businesses that are able to optimize how they set up their boards and pins are finding their way to the first page of a Google search for certain keyword phrases,” Sanchez said. “That can be especially powerful for a self-storage facility, considering how locally based the industry is.”
Self-storage owner and consultant Marc Goodin couldn’t agree more. He spent eight hours setting up Pinterest accounts for his consulting business and his storage facility in Caraquet, New Brunswick, and will spend more time updating them throughout the year.
“It’s a real timesaver,” he said. “For less than a day’s work, I’ve got another online element that boosts the SEO for my website because I connect it with an icon to my Facebook page. Pinterest is so easy and cheap that every facility should have it.”
Establishing a Pinterest business account is relatively easy. A wizard guides you to the one-page application, and guides you through the process of verifying your website and adding the PinIt icon that enables visitors to jump to your Pinterest boards. Goodin suggests that owners register their Pinterest business account with the corporate name, email and password, in case the account disappears with an employee’s departure.
Sanchez said there’s a trick to getting in a Pinterest state of mind.
“The best approach is to create your Pinterest account as a resource for your ideal customer. You’re making your own mini-library,” she said. “Even though a self-storage facility may not be essentially visual, they can still be made visual by helping and giving additional information that your ideal client would find useful.”
Connecting with customers
While images of your facility deserve a board, Lamb said, the key that unlocks this powerful tool is connecting with your customers’ interests.
“A lot of operators share tips on organizing, decorating, moving, remodeling and home storage, as well as DIY projects and even recipes,” Lamb said. “Adding on all kinds of tips for the home appeals to the main demographic.”
No photographer? No problem. “There are tons of stock photography sites online that are either free to use for commercial purposes or that sell images for as little as $1,” Sanchez said.
Goodin dedicates half of his Caraquet site to his facility and staff interests like vintage cars and his own passion, fishing. The rest he devotes to the charm that attracted him—and will doubtless attract many future customers—to his scenic maritime community.
“I walked up and down Main Street and took pictures of all the businesses, then went to the wharf and took pictures of all the boats, so when people search online for something in the community, they’re going to see my site at the same time they repin that boat picture,” he said.
Putting the ‘social’ in social media
Sanchez said that sifting through storage and non-storage sites on Pinterest is the best way to pick up new ideas, interests and, of course, repins. Newbies also can track whether their pin-manship is paying off by using the analytics tool on Pinterest’s business site.
By all means, avoid the first-timers classic etiquette mistake: the hard sell.
“When it comes to social media, it is social, like a cocktail party or get-together,” Sanchez said. “Anytime you’re in a room with another human being, you don’t automatically say, ‘Here, buy my stuff.’ Nobody wants to be sold. Everybody wants to feel like they’re getting help, that it’s a service.”