With 1.55 billion users, Facebook offers a huge marketing opportunity for self-storage facilities.
It’s free to create a Facebook page, which allows you to post photos, videos, status updates, links, tips and contests.
“It’s just one step of your marketing process, but it’s one you can’t skip,” said Marc Goodin, president of Fort Lauderdale, FL-based Storage Authority Franchising. “It’s common sense that Facebook is the best social media site. It’s the largest one out there.”
Create a profile picture and cover photo, which can be of your facility, logo or staff. You also want to fill out the “about” section, making sure that your facility name, address, phone number, email and especially your website are easy to find, said Amy Daniels, content manager at storEDGE.
Provide a link to your website in your Facebook profile as well said Jeanne Dotson, director of Internet marketing strategy for The Storage Group.
“And just don’t link it to your home page; link it to your ‘units available’ page where people can rent online [if you have that capability] or at least get more information,” Dotson said.
It’s also a good idea to add a short description of your property and key features (like climate control or boat storage), using easy-to-understand language that isn’t overly promotional, Daniels said.
Post engaging content
“Facebook, just like many social media outlets, is all about engaging with your customers,” Daniels said. “If you just get on Facebook and only post ads about your facility, you’ll become white noise that your customers will ignore.”
In terms of engagement, it boils down to relevancy and frequency.
Are there community events that your target market is talking about? Is everybody pumped up for a big college game? Was there a crazy snowstorm in your city? How does your target market celebrate upcoming holidays?
“Facebook allows you to see trending topics, so aim for roughly half of your posts to not be directly storage-related,” Daniels said.
The other half should still be more than straight ads. Try spreading the news about events at your facility, ask your Facebook audience questions to get them engaged, and share fun facts about your staff, Daniels suggested. You can also post helpful information like how to store appliances or packing and moving tips.
Try to include a photo with every post if you can.
“Users gravitate far more toward pictures and videos than they do text,” Daniels said.
“Never post without a picture. Never!” Goodin said.
“Have somebody in charge of your page, so it doesn’t come across as a company, but a live person,” suggested Marlene Corpus, marketing director for 21st Century Storage.
“Bigger companies’ Facebook pages are being run by third-party people, so posts can come across more like a newsletter. A potential customer can connect to you, because they’re responding to a person and not a business,” Corpus said.
Post at regular intervals
What’s really best for your facility is a frequency that you can maintain, Daniels said.
“If you think you can easily post twice a week, stick to that frequency,” Daniels said.
Goodin believes in posting a minimum of every other day, and “there’s nothing wrong with posting every day.”
Is it worth it to buy ads, or boost posts?
In addition to all of this free stuff, Facebook offers two ways to advertise: the standard Facebook ads (where you can offer specials, promote your facility, etc.) and boosted/sponsored posts, which allows businesses to pay for their posts to be more predominantly displayed on newsfeeds.
“Just like any other marketing you try for your facility, it’s a good idea to test in small doses, measure your results, and continue to tweak how much you pursue that particular marketing venue,” Daniels said.
Daniels said Facebook ads and sponsored posts often cost much less per lead than pay per click with Google.
“You can also hone in on a very specific demographic,” she added. “Facebook lets you customize age, gender, interests, and locations of your target market, giving you the capability to tweak your ads until they’re getting in front of the people who are most likely to rent with you.”
For example, you can target college students, people who recently bought a house, moved or even divorced, Dotson said.
How much should you spend?
The amount you spend should depend on your marketing budget and how successfully your ads perform, Daniels suggested. Some facilities may find that their Facebook ads get them a lot of traffic, and others may find that Google PPC produces better results.
“My advice is to isolate and measure your results,” she said. “If you’re trying multiple marketing venues, make sure you’re tracking which ones are actually producing leads,” Daniels said.
If you find that paid Facebook posts aren’t viable for your facility, you can still continue to post for free.
“I always suggest if you have a smaller budget, try Facebook and do some of their target testing for specific audiences,” Dotson said. “When you do your ad campaign, you can set your daily budget so you know exactly what you’ll pay.”
How do you measure results?
Facebook gives you most of the tracking and reporting tools needed to measure your results. For paid content, they’ll show you how many impressions (how many times people saw your content), number of audience members you reached, and how many people clicked on the ad.
Also, remember that success can be measured in different ways. “There may be people who see your Facebook ad, don’t visit your site right away, but later remember you because of it and become a paying customer,” Daniels said.