There’s a big debate bouncing around the vacation rental industry these days, as to whether or not vacation rental marketing is too time consuming for there to be any significant return on investment.
But what if you had a strategy that took up almost no time at all out of your week, and actually brought your business that value it needs to close more bookings?
The key is to focus on ONE main goal, without spending a ton of time outside of your normal routine. And that’s exactly what we’re going to teach you in this article.
If done right, you can spend less than 5 hours total per week, and get all the benefits you need.
With the right strategy, social media marketing can actually make a significant impact on a vacation rental business' brand and bookings.
When deciding on booking the perfect vacation rental, A lot of travellers perform secondary research in Google, outside of the channels that they might have found your property on (VRBO, Airbnb, etc...).
They want to know more about you, your properties, and your area before they decide to book with you.
In short, the same way you do research on a company or product before your purchase, travellers do the same thing before they spend thousands of dollars to book your vacation rental.
So it's important that when they go looking for you, you're there, establishing your credibility with the right type of content that will convince them to book.
The REAL value of social media marketing
It has SEO value
There’s no argument about the value social media pages have on your SEO. So if you have a website, a solid social media portfolio is a must.
The pages need to be actively updated, but not to worry! 1 post a week, even two per month is all you need. Stuffing your pages with long posts and keywords is a complete waste of your time. Just make sure the page isn’t a ghost town and you’ll get what you need from it.
You can always set it up yourself, and it wont cost a thing.
Yes, that means no capital investment needed, unless you'd rather pay someone else to do it for you.
But if not, all you need is a little time (maybe just 30 minutes to an hour per profile page - if you know what you're doing).
What really matters
There are so many stats out there when it comes to social media, but when it comes down to marketing your vacation rental, here’s all you really need to think about:
1) 70% of people update their statuses while on vacation.
Yup, that’s right. That means that 7 out of 10 people will most likely post about their time at your property during their stay.
When your guest updates his or her profile, these updates will get seen by all of their friends, and give you some free promotion in the process. Click here for the inforgraphic
2) 76% of people post vacation photos to a social network.
This stat means that out of the 7 guests, 5 will post photos about their trip. Click here for the inforgraphic
3) 52% of people say that a friend’s photos inspired their trip
Meaning, if your guests’ friends like what they see, there’s a good chance they just might be your next clients! Click here for the inforgraphic
A solid social media portfolio will increase the chances that they interact within your company by linking to it or mentioning it. And in return, this will show up in their friend’s news feeds and drive them to check it out for themselves.
What does this mean?
Well, it means that if guests are interacting with social media while on vacation, you can make them interact with your pages for some FREE promotion!
The last thing you want to do is waste your time building a massive portfolio of social pages and posting useless information that won’t help convert any travelers.
In order for your social media marketing to be successful, you need a goal; ONE main focus to keep you on track with what really matters.
So it’s safe to say the goal here should be to generate more bookings, whether it’s directly or indirectly is of little importance.
As long as you aren’t wasting too much of your time, and you're seeing more bookings because of it, you’re in the money.
Choose your portfolio wisely
Definitely set up a GooglePlus Page and a Facebook Page. And maybe a Pinterest page or Instagram page, but only if they’re right for you.
Why GooglePlus? – It’s a safe bet to say that Google most probably values its own social network over the others. So, although it might not have the most users, it definitely has some of the most value when it comes to your SEO.
Why Facebook? – It’s the most popular, and people can interact with your business, using things like checkins, which give you more free visibility.
Why Pinterest or Instagram? - If you truly have a special property, with beautiful pictures and majestic views, then Pinterest and Instagram are choices for you. Anything besides luxury tends to fall flat and will have a hard time gaining any kind of momentum on here. So unless you’ve got luxurious, lavish, majestic, or truly unique property, it’s probably not worth your time.
Why not more? – Well, in our experience, most of the other platforms don't help in any significant way. Sure, you might get a few followers, but to turn those followers into bookings is nearly impossible. So it's best not to waste your time.
Choose the right titles
Choosing the right title for your page is more important than most people think. Your goal here is to reinforce your brand - plain and simple.
No random keywords, just your brand name, and maybe your slogan if you have room.
Anything else could potentially have negative affects on your SEO.
Choose only your best photos and videos
This goes without saying, but it’s just a reminder. Your photos and/or videos need to be enticing, especially on Pinterest, considering it’s all about visual content and pretty much nothing else.
Link all of your photos to their original page
When applicable, it is important to link your photos back to the original page where they were published. It will help build credibility, strengthen your SEO, and drive the traveler back to the original page where they can book.
Yes… all of this might take a little extra time to set up. But once it's done, the upkeep is minimal.
Now for the implementation!
Here’s where it all comes into fruition. All of the hard work is done, and now all you need to do is post and share your content.
And what type of content should you be sharing?
Well, the last thing you want to do is waste time posting useless information that won’t help convert any travellers.
Your content strategy should be simple and straight-forward so that it can be performed systematically, and add the maximum value to your marketing efforts.
We’ve broken it down into 4 high impact parts;
One: Get people to connect with your brand
In a traveler's eyes, the more likes or followers you have, the more credible you are as a manager.
So just as much as you encourage your guests to post positive reviews on your marketing channels, (HomeAway, VRBO, etc…), encourage your guests to like or follow your pages.
The best time to do this is as soon as they check in.
People are much more likely to like or follow your brand when they first arrive, because it's when they're most happy to finally be at their destination.
If you've done a good job at "wowing" them with an awesome thank you or welcome gift, you're probably going to get some pretty valuable promotion when they take a picture and share it with their friends.
You can also remind your guests to connect with you towards the end of their stay or after they've checked out.
All it takes is a quick "thank you" email. All you have to do is ask.
Two: Use your social media pages as your online testimonial guestbook
Even if guests don't "connect" with you on social media, you can still thank them publicly and show the world you care.
If someone has just posted a positive review on your VRBO listing, or Airbnb, you can thank them on your social pages and link back to your listing.
It's important to still use pictures so you can tag your guests in the photo. Tagging people in photos can significantly expand your reach for a post.
Publicly thanking people for their awesome reviews is a great way to reinforce positive energy about your brand.
So when people land on your social profile when researching your company, it's filled with positive messages that link back to pages where they can book your property.
It's a really awesome strategy that will engage people to book your property, without having to be too forward about it.
Also, posting positive testimonials to your pages will also make them show up in your followers’ news feeds. Remember; tagging the pictures will make it more visible, as it extend your reach with the possibility of your post showing up in their friend’s news feeds as well.
Three: Publish content that will reinforce your authority about your area
Prospective travellers who are researching your property want to know more about you as a manager, and about what to do in your area.
Chances are, they probably already know the most "popular" activities in your area. The majority of people choose a particular destination because of what they want to do there.
For example; Oktoberfest in Germany? Everybody knows that's going on.
But, there might be some hidden gems, or local "lesser-known" spots/activities that you could be sharing with potential guests.
Maybe you could share some insider experiences at these places.
Or maybe you could share some local news about new things too.
Just always remember to keep the message positive, and don't spend more time than you need to.
Four: Publish some of your promotions and last minute deals
Everyone likes a great deal. So if you’re ready to offer a last-minute deal or discounted rate for a three-day weekend, let the public know!
It’s a fantastic call to action for your followers to jump on or share. And it's also a great little promo that can create a little more urgency and help seal the deal for browsers who are just doing a little research on your brand before they book.
The posting schedule
The more you post, the better... to a certain extent.
Depending on how active your calendar is, posting once, maybe twice per day is probably all you need.
If you own a lot of properties, get a lot of bookings, and your guests happen to be really interactive with you, then you can post more.
The trick is to spend enough time to build REAL value, without going overboard.
At the bare minimum, no less than 5 posts per week.
There are plenty of services out there than can help save you time by scheduling posts in advance and publishing them across all of your profiles from one place. We like Buffer.
BUT you have to stick with it.
An inactive profile is almost the same as having no profile at all. And any sign of neglect can make all of your past efforts useless.
All you need is 1 hour per day to find and make the RIGHT post. But once you get the swing of it, you might even be able to get it done in less time.
And if you use a service like Buffer, you can use free time on weekends to catch up, or even better, get a ahead.
It’s important to note that not all of your posts are going to generate a ton of views. And not all of your promotions are going to generate bookings on the spot from your followers.
But today’s traveller researches EVERYTHING online.
So the idea with social media marketing is to make sure that there's a constant flow of positive and fresh content about your property and brand.
In time, your followers will associate you with awesomeness, and when prospective guests land on your page, and start browsing through all of the positive reviews and pictures of happy past guests, it will indirectly increase the chances of them booking with you instead of your competition.
Ultimately, social media marketing is a strategy that should be seen as the finishing touches to your overall marketing plan.
It takes time to have the number of posts, likes and followers you need to make a a significant difference. But when that times comes, you’re going to be very glad you put in those 5 hours a week.