U-Haul is an iconic American Brand celebrating its 70th year in business. Until four years ago, they had profiles on a number of social media channels, but really weren’t paying much attention to them. Today, U-Haul has been ‘liked’ by more than 20,000 people on Facebook and enjoys nearly 6,000 Twitter followers.

In a recorded podcast, Ken Schneider, head of social media at U-Haul, discussed why and how the company changed its approach to social media. These four lessons can be helpful to any business that hasn’t been especially involved in social media, no matter how long they’ve been in business.

Listen, Because Customers Are Talking About You

This was the first lesson U-Haul learned. They had profiles on several social media channels, but weren’t doing anything with them. Then, four years ago, they realized that a sizable number of people had been doing more than just liking them or following them. People were attempting to engage with U-Haul by asking questions and/or complaining.

Listening beyond their own profiles, U-Haul heard plenty of chatter in social about where to get moving supplies, how to prepare for a move and other issues that U-Haul handles directly.

Once they realized there was a receptive audience in place already, U-Haul took steps to get involved in a big way. Today, they handle as many as 20,000 inbound messages a month and proactively share content for their audience on social media.

Reduce Call Center Expense

Every complaint and question handled via social media is one less for the call center. For companies in need of return on investment (ROI) to justify the investment in social media, this is one way social media improves the bottom line.

At U-Haul, complaints are received by the Social Cares team, which contacts the U-Haul location where the complaint originated. They determine what happened and get both sides of the story in the system before the complaints are answered by the Marketing team.

Social Cares also receives questions and passes them on to the appropriate party on the Marketing team.

For any company with a substantial customers support phone operation, diverting some of that activity to social media can be a money saver.

Base New Content on Social Media Chatter

Through social media engagement and listening, U-Haul learns what type of content is needed to address followers’ questions and concerns. They then create the moving tips and hacks they know followers will appreciate.

Content should address a customer need or interest. U-Haul proves that attentive social media listening, in your own channel and beyond, can tell you a lot about what your customers and prospects are interested in right now.

  • Pain points
  • Unanswered questions
  • Common concerns

Don’t Stop Experimenting

Last year, U-Haul ran a very successful Snapchat campaign targeting college students. To provide expertise on the channel and the demographic, they turned to an invaluable inside source–their interns. They experimented a few times with Periscope, but weren’t able to see real value from live streaming.

With social media and customer preferences changing all the time, it’s important to keep experimenting on social media.

As Ken Schneider says on the podcast, one of the most important things is to be sure every social media effort and published content, provides value to the customer.

That really can’t be said enough. Providing value to the audience can be where all good social media and content marketing begins.