Social media is one of the most powerful ways for businesses to connect and interact with their target audience, and professionals in the vacation rental industry should take advantage of this potential. Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, YouTube, Snapchat, Pinterest, are powerful networks that can help you get your vacation rental in front of a broad audience.
Do not get confused, though: to master social media for your rental business takes effort, time and a well-thought strategy. But with this 4 step guide, you can become a Social Media Pro!
1. Think about strategy
Before starting over take some time to think about your strategy, by answering some simple questions:
What is your target audience?
Is it families or young couples? Where do they come from? What languages do they speak? What do they like to eat for breakfast? For example, if you target young couples from Europe, with no children, that they love to travel and try new experiences, then you probably should use Instagram. Do research your target audience and learn what kind of content they consume.
What do you want to achieve using social media? What challenges do you need to address using them?
If you want to promote your properties portfolio and create awareness in a short time, you should be prepared to pay for advertising. All major social media platforms offer advertising solutions that will help your business to appear in front of your audience's eyes when using these platforms. If you want to engage with your guests, offer them alternative channels to communicate and keep in touch after they leave, then you should choose the platforms that provide chat solutions. Think carefully about your needs and do not just use social media just for the sake of it.
What will be the context of your content?
Before start talking about The King, let's take a step back and think about The Queen: the context in which your content will be generated. Write down some broader areas of interest that will help you define the context of your postings. For example, if you have a beautiful 2-bed apartment with roof terrace in Notting Hill, one of your context pillars should be about events, news, and updates in this popular, artistic London neighbourhood.
What does your competition do?
Check what your competition is doing. Which social media networks they use, what type of content they publish, what comments they get, how fast they respond. Again, write down their strengths and weaknesses and try to identify some threats and opportunities for your vacation rental's presence in the social media networks you are going to choose.
2. Think about execution
Now that you have the main points of your strategy in mind, you can start thinking about the implementation of your strategy.
Content and social media networks
Facebook is the most mainstream social media network, Twitter is more about the text, while Instagram is all about beautiful curated photos and videos. You do not have to deploy them all at once; you can start with the one that makes you more comfortable regarding content generation and your targets. Remember that your content should always tell or imply a story; that's what people buy.A photo of white bath towels on a bed can be described as "a serviced apartment," but could also be "a soft touch by luxurious, organic cotton bath towels."
In the beginning, try to plan your weekly content beforehand. You should have five postings at least, once every day, so having photos of your beautiful pool house every other day seems kind of boring for your audience. Let alone you'll eventually run out of photos.
Go back to your context pillars. They will guide you through this dark moment. So, ideally, you should be able to schedule your next week with an inspiring photo of your garden on Monday, a guest's testimonial on Tuesday, a picture of your breakfast shopping bag or list for your new guests checking in on Wednesday, a small video with 360 views from the balcony on Thursday, and the Saturday open market that takes place in your neighbourhood on Friday.
Time and days
You can find online a lot of articles about the best times and days for posting so that you get the highest possible reach and engagement. But my advice would be to try posting at different times throughout the day and then you can decide what works best for you. Also, remember that your morning might be your target audience's night, so go back to your strategy and think what their day should be like. For example, if you are targeting professionals from the West Coast of The US, maybe your best chances to reach them and engage with them are during their morning commuting, so you have to calculate the time difference accordingly.
Monitor and engage with your audience
Social media networks success, long before brands join, was all about the conversation: people could talk to each other in real-time, comment on news from all over the world and express their opinion openly to any subject they felt like. For businesses, the opportunity to join this conversation is so important, one can only compare it to having a well-trained salesperson at every physical location people talk about your brand. So, you need to monitor what your audience talks about and try to understand its way of thinking and what drives its buying decision. And, of course, you have to join the conversation. For example, with a simple hashtag search on Twitter, you may find people asking for advice when visiting your town. You can reply to them with links to help them find what they need. Do not oversell, be outgoing and conversational and you will win their hearts - and, most probably, their money too!
3. Think about monitoring your performance
So, you have already started to post lovely photos of your plush throw blanket and the live plant in the living room, and you are experiencing the joy of having the first post engagements. You have 25 reactions under your sunset photo on Facebook, and 37 likes on Instagram. Now what?
Now you need to understand, evaluate and keep monitoring your performance.
Select a social media analytics tool
All social media networks offer analytics and performance reports on their platforms. But if you want to keep everything under one roof, then you need a social media analytics tool. Most social media management tools offer full analytics and reports on their platforms, and now is the best time to select one. A good idea would be to choose a trial or free plan for the beginning, and when you realise your needs get more advanced, you can switch to a paid one.
Set up your Key Performance Indicators
After having set up your management and analytics tool and had enough data to analyse, its time to go back to your strategy and decide what your KPI's should be. For example, if one of your goals is to create and enhance brand awareness for your vacation rental, so that you can better convert enquiries into bookings, then your KPIs should be your posts' reach and engagement. How many people your posts have reached? And, how many reactions did you have?
4. Think about networking and influencers outreach
You have now set up everything, you monitoring your KPI's, you have a steady ascending performance, and you are wondering what is next.
Well, the next step is to start being even more conversational and outgoing.
Reach out to other vacation rental professionals, talk about your experiences and learn from what they are sharing. Do not be afraid to give credits to a competitor, should he shares the same values with you. Do not afraid to post your opinion, but remember always to be polite and respectful of the context of the conversation - you do not want to be named as a "spammer," after all.
Start reaching out industry influencers
This is a time-consuming procedure, and is better to start with baby steps: first, like and share some of their posts, then try to comment, and finally, you can properly introduce yourself via a direct message and follow up with a detailed email with any ideas you may have on working with them. But, always be aware that being an influencer means you have invested time and effort in perfecting your presence in social media, so you should expect to pay a fee for any endorsement.
Social media for vacation rentals may seem like an easy job, but the truth is it requires a lot of work to set it up and even more of your brain to leverage its potential. You may find it hard to get it started, but if you follow this 4 step guide, you can even begin generating booking enquiries.
Just remember one simple rule: post great content, always be yourself and quickly and politely reply to any comment, post that mentions you, or message.
So, roll up your sleeves and get started!
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