by Stephanie Shelton, guest author
Lately, we have seen a lot of buzz concerning social networking, and the general views of our industry on whether it is viable enough to devote time to. I’m certain many of you have read multiple articles on the subject of social networking; perhaps you have attended training webinars or even seminars in an attempt to learn how to lasso the masses of the web towards your business door. So, what I say next may confuse you:
Your level of success in the social networking world is not measured by the number of “likes” your Facebook page has, or the number of “followers” you have on Twitter.
Strange to read, isn’t it? The very thought goes against everything you’ve learned, I know. Allow me to offer an alternative thought pattern. Try imagining our Twitter feeds, Facebook pages, Google+ circles and display ads (should you choose to pay for them) as nothing more than roadside billboards on the Internet. They are our way of having our messages displayed for anyone to read anytime they wish.
Many would refute this thought process, saying that if billboards are placed on low-traffic highways, they are simply money wasted. In other words, if no one “likes” your business page, they won’t see your “billboard.” This is true. However, the fact of the matter is that we are in a very specific market of business. The average person is not going to “like” our business page or “follow” a storage facility on Twitter “just in case” they ever have the need to store.
Are our “billboards” important? You bet they are! Are they considered “social networking?” I’m afraid not. They are nothing more than extremely low-cost advertising. It takes your staff member less than five minutes to type and broadcast or change your billboard. In fact, it’s pretty close to free advertising. Who doesn’t like advertising for next to nothing?
So how can we use social media to increase our unit rentals? Where do we start? The answer may shock you with how simple it is: Be social! Every city or town has pages or accounts set up for it. Many even have user-maintained community pages. Other business pages in your town have accounts across social media as well. (You didn’t think you were the only one trying to attract attention, did you?) Like these pages, follow these accounts and most important, become an active citizen of them yourself.
Imagine your town has a local page on Facebook that has 5,000 likes. It’s a central place for members of your community to talk about local events, give their reviews on local restaurants that have recently opened, or perhaps ask advice about the local school system or areas to live, just to name a few. What does this have to do with me, my facility and the topic in general?
Well, let us say that we attend bi-monthly Chamber of Commerce events. But recently, we’ve had things pop up, leaving us unable to attend the events for three months. These events are not normally where we would think we’d rent units, but consider the following scenario: John Smith of Speedy Tire Express also attends these events. He has just gotten a wonderful deal on a truckload of brand new tires, but he does not have space at his business to house them. Had we attended the Chamber meeting the week before, our face and business would have been fresh in John’s memory, prompting him to contact us immediately about his need. Sadly, John will more than likely now choose to search and begin contacting the many facilities located in our area for price checking. He may or may not call us, we may or may not get his business.
Look at that community page as one large Chamber meeting that’s open 24 hours a day. It is an opportunity for you to keep your name and business at the front of community members’ minds. If you happen to see someone asking about the better neighborhoods to live in town, respond to them with your thoughts. You are a local after all, and local opinions are what they are looking for. If you rent moving trucks, send them a private message (essentially shaking their hand) to introduce yourself. Make them aware of your services – and more important – how those services can help make their moving process easier. Perhaps they may find a new home that lacks garage space. Because you’ve extended yourself to them, they are more likely to come straight to you for their need, verses expelling their energy searching.
Today, more and more large and small companies alike are getting on board with social networking. Our industry’s very own Sparefoot is on board, as is Penske, Apple, Verizon; the list goes on and on. Many of these companies believe in social media networking so much they even have employees directly dedicated to social media. Like their pages, follow their accounts and watch what the seasoned veterans of social media do. It will open up a whole new world of possibilities for you.
Remember, it is the Internet, but on the other side of your computer screen is another real-life person just like you! Shake their virtual hand! Keep your business name fresh in their minds. If you don’t, someone else will.
Stephanie Shelton is Assistant Manager of AAA Storage City in Ridgeland, South Carolina.