September 14, 2022
How to Use Social Media in Your Vacation Rental Marketing Strategy
We’ll admit: that sometimes, the vacation rental industry struggles to keep up with the times. And that’s true with using social media as part of a successful short-term rental marketing strategy. For many property managers, social media still feels like SEO did 10 years ago: buzzwordy, gimmicky, and not worth the time and money it takes to execute effectively.
But what if we told you that, when used strategically, social media can be a vital tool in your marketing toolbox?
Why Is Social Media Important for Vacation Rental Managers?
Adding social media to your short-term rental marketing strategy can give your business the boost you never knew you needed. Here’s how.
Meet Your Audience Where They Are
Nearly everyone in the world uses social media. That’s not an exaggeration—recent numbers show that about 4.7 billion people (yes, with a ‘b’) used one or more social media platforms in 2021. That number is only continuing to grow. Social media marketing opens up your potential guest pool. It allows you to engage with users who may never have heard of you otherwise.
Build Your Brand
Social media is one way to share your brand story with the world: to tell your audience who you are and your mission as a business. It’s a unique way to give your business a personality and demonstrate your expertise and devotion to hospitality and guest experiences.
In addition, a brand’s social media presence is another form of credentials. People use social media almost as an extension of a company’s website, a way to research, shop, and share reviews of a company’s products and services. Having a social media presence lends your business legitimacy.
Part of the draw of the vacation rental industry is building relationships between vacation rental managers and their guests, local businesses, and homeowners. Social media can bridge these connections. In a way, it’s a close second to interacting with people in real life.
User-Generated Content = Free Marketing
When you’ve established a good rapport with your followers, social media can become an organic marketing machine for your vacation rental businesses. Users who create content and tag you are opening new doors to new potential guests. And who can say no to free marketing?
Social media is a crucial aspect of your short-term rental marketing strategy. Now, let’s dive into some nitty-gritty details about executing an effective social media plan.
1. Set Clear Goals
Define your social media strategy by setting clear goals to measure success. One of the great things about social media business profiles is the ability to analyze marketing performance in real time and gain insight into your audience. Some great questions to start with may include:
- What will you promote on your social media?
- Who is your target audience?
- Will you use different platforms for different kinds of campaigns and/or audiences?
2. Automate Posting
Like any other marketing strategy, your social media marketing requires consistency to be most effective. Save yourself and your team some time by investing in software that allows you to schedule your posts well in advance. Some solutions like Sprout or Hubspot can also collect data to help you understand trends and adjust for better engagement.
3. Sell the Experience, Not Just the Property
Stunning real estate photography of your properties will only get you so much more engagement. Because it isn’t just about the property, is it? It’s about the experience you hope guests will have while staying with you. Inspire viewers to go beyond looking at your properties to booking them by promoting the entire experience like:
- Stage lifestyle shots inside the property, like a meal on the table or a spectacular view paired with coffee service.
- Provide photos and descriptions of must-see destinations in your market, including local businesses (make sure to tag them and spread the love!) and natural wonders. Get creative with it!
- Add photos of your team at work. It’s nice to share the other side of the business with your guests because it demonstrates your devotion to hospitality. Plus, it gives your business a human element (yes, real people work here!).
4. Link to Your Properties for Direct Booking
It may seem like a no-brainer, but include links to your website or OTA listing for easy, direct booking for potential guests! You can do a link tree in your account “profile” or link directly to specific properties in a post. Linking to a third-party listing like Airbnb can also help boost your rankings on their site.
5. Get Savvy at Tagging
Using hashtags, geo-tags, or tagging another account in your posts is like SEO for social media. It helps categorize your social media accounts and posts for users to find you more easily, even if they aren’t directly following your account.
Here are a few tips to help you get the most out of tagging:
- Understand the different categories of hashtags. It can be helpful to break down hashtags by category. There are content hashtags, the kind that relates directly to your post. There are trending hashtags, like hashtags related to movements or cultural phenomena. And then there are brand-specific hashtags, which are hashtags you create for your own campaigns!
- Use a variety of general and specific hashtags. Using a mix of general and specific content hashtags can help you land in someone’s search more quickly. So you can use the hashtag #cabins, and you should if it works with your posts! But using something more specific like #cabininthewoods or, even better, #cabininthesmokies, can help narrow down your audience and put your posts in front of more people.
- Don’t use too many. You’ve probably heard of the phrase “keyword stuffing,” referring to the practice of packing in as many keywords as possible to get the most hits on a search engine. Keyword stuffing doesn’t work because it makes the content feel spammy. It’s the same with hashtags—the more you have, the more your engagement drops. Each platform has its own recommendations for the number of hashtags to use, so do your research.
- Use geo-tagging wisely. Keep your staff, homeowners, and guests safe by never advertising a property’s specific address on social media. Similarly, make sure that defining features of a property, like a house number, street name, or mailbox number, are never visible in a post.
6. Content Variety Is Key
Platforms like YouTube and TikTok have popularized video content so much that engagement with video has skyrocketed across social media platforms. You don’t need to become an expert at every TikTok dance to make your vacation rental marketing strategy successful. However, mixing and matching the kinds of content you post to your social media accounts is a good idea to keep your audience engaged.
7. Ask (and Share) UGC
One of the top benefits of using social media in your vacation rental business is tapping into user-generated content (UGC). UGC is any post tagging your business, especially photos or videos taken while using your product or service. Essentially, UGC is free marketing—not only can you add this content to your own account, but it taps into a brand new audience thanks to the user.
Encourage guests to take pictures and tag you on social media in check-in emails and signage in the home. You can even incentive sharing content with special offerings (for example, “tag us for a chance to win a free night on your next stay!” or similar). Then, ask if you can share the content on your business platform!
In addition to guest posts, you can repurpose positive reviews for user-generated content! Build in a request to share guest reviews on social media in your post-stay survey to streamline the process.
8. Use Highlights to Organize Your Content
Instagram’s Highlights feature helps vacation rental managers organize content based on users’ needs or interests. For example, you can make a highlight for gorgeous photos of your properties, another for travel information and area guides, and another for business partnerships for potential homeowners.
9. Respond Promptly
Social media can serve as an unofficial guest service center. Guests may use your social media platform to contact your team with questions or to leave reviews. It’s prudent to stay on top of comments and messages left on the platform and respond to them promptly. Responding to reviews on social media in a thoughtful, compassionate, and active manner shows guests that you care what they have to say and are willing to make adjustments.
Advertising on social media can get you in front of more potential guests than any other marketing tool. It gives new and returning guests a way to interact with you. And it builds a brand identity that will leave a lasting impression on guests and potential homeowners alike! With some know-how and a few helpful software solutions, you can make social media work for your vacation rental business.