“You’ve got to use all social media for short-term rentals. The more the better, right?” In a perfect world this would be true. With unlimited resources, a full-time social media manager and a lot of cash to spend on paid advertising there is certainly no limit. But not everyone is so lucky and with limited budget and time, you might have to choose what platforms to be active on. And then those channels will have to be the ones you really put your heart and soul in. Because nothing looks worse than a deserted Facebook or Twitter page. Last post 12th July 2015? Customers might think you are no longer operating.
However, you want to be everywhere your potential guests are. And obviously the more guests (and bookings), the better. Direct bookings avoid those pesky commisions and you are in the driver’s seat and not some third-party site. Still, that doesn’t mean all social media platforms are for you and provide the same return on investment – specifically from investment in terms of time commitment.
Well, fret not. We’ve compiled a guide to social media for short-term rentals and today we will talk about Facebook and Twitter specifically. Read on to find out more!
First and foremost, we have got to talk about the most popular social media for short-term rentals, Facebook. With over 2 billion registered users, Facebook is the go-to platform for marketers as well as short-term rental operators aiming to promote their business. Thus, your potential customers will be definitely be on it, but your competitors most likely, too.
A Facebook page can in some instances even replace a website and is a useful communication channel for people interested in your business. Someone wanting to inquire about your short-term rental might prefer to chat to you through Facebook messenger than to give you a ring or send a lengthy email. Therefore, make sure to download the Facebook Page app, so you get notified immediately when a message comes in. In addition, a speedy response time will show up on your Facebook page and might encourage more potential guests to get in touch.
So you have created a Facebook page, completed all the required info and uploaded some high-quality images of your pad. What’s next? You would like more likes! More likes mean a bigger audience you can market your product to.
Getting Likes Organically on Facebook
Starting from scratch, how do you get people to organically like your page? Without investing any money in Facebook ads, tell your guests before, during and after your stay about your page. For example, include a link to your Facebook page in your booking confirmation and mention how they can find a lot more info on the area on the page. Then mention Facebook in your guest folder and encourage check-ins while guests are in house. After the guest’s stay, you can refer to your page in your follow-up email and encourage them to like it with the promise of exclusive offers.
Another great way to grow your page without too much investment is with competitions – i.e. “To win a 2-night stay at our cottage, like this competition post and comment who you would take with you.” With not much effort required, people will be happy to enter. And by them liking and tagging your content, it might show up on their friends timeline again increasing the amount of persons you reach. Extra tip: Instead of just giving a stay at your STR away, include something unique in the competition – something that adds to the experience, for example, a dinner at a local restaurant, a theatre show or entry to a nearby attraction. However, be careful as some competitions asking for likes, shares and tags can be against Facebook rules. More info here.
Investing in Facebook Ads
Do keep in mind that to reach people, you might also want to invest some money in Facebook ads. Highly specific targeting makes it easy for you to reach an audience that is likely to be interested in your vacation rental. For example, if you operate near Universal Studios in Florida, you can target people who like the Universal Studio Facebook page, who like Airbnb, with a certain annual income and a specific number of family members. Targeting combinations are nearly limitless. Find a handy infographic by WordStream, which includes all targeting options and is regularly updated, here.
Also, you can pursue different objectives with your Facebook ads. Go for page likes, if you want to build a long-term audience. Pay for clicks, if you have a website and want people to view content on there. Or go for impressions, if you would like to increase awareness of your short-term rental brand. Your Facebook budget does not need to be huge. Start small and test which audiences respond best to your ads.
Content, Content, Content on Facebook
People like Facebook pages that provide value to them. For example, previous guests who had an enjoyable experience with you will like your page to stay in touch and to be the first to hear the latest news and offers. Potential guests might like your page in order to keep your vacation rental ‘on file’ – i.e. to save it for later, to benefit from offers or to gain inspiration for their next trip. Hence wise, treat those people who like your Facebook page to something special. For instance, give them access to an exclusive offer. Furthermore, besides special discounts provide content that is of interest to past and future guests. This could be insider information on your city or region, information on local events or blog posts third parties have written on the area you operate in.
Also, don’t be scared to get personal. Introduce yourself on your Facebook page and the people you work with you (e.g. cleaners, business partners etc.). Guests want to see in whose capable hands they put their short-term stay. Also, share positive guest feedback. It can be a lot more effective than the perfectly-written copy on your website.
Definitely not as popular as Facebook in terms of social media for short-term rentals, Twitter serves a different purpose. With a very low conversion rate, Twitter is more of a tool to engage with the community, such as local businesses, as well as influences and bloggers. However, in the long run this can also pay off with higher occupancy rates and more bookings for your vacation rental. But how?
3 Ways to Raise Awareness of your Short-term Rental on Twitter
Participating in travel chats. There are dozens of chats happening on Twitter specifically centring around travel. Usually focusing on a region or subject, Twitter chats are usually an hour long and follow a list of questions which will be released one-by-one by the chat moderator. The Twitter community then has time to reply to these questions. Even though the subject of the chat might not be directly related to your vacation home, it is still useful to engage in it. As these chats are frequented by influences and bloggers, they might notice your profile and offering and keep you in mind for future trips. See a list of Twitter travel chats here.
Engaging with travel bloggers. Many travel influencers are active on Twitter and you can engage with them by sharing their content – for example, if they have written an informational piece on the region you operate in. If you have a well-presented Twitter feed with good content, you might get their attention. And, who knows, one travel bloggers might decide to stay with you. This in turn can mean getting your short-term rental brand noticed by a lot more potential guests.
Speaking to local businesses. Some businesses operating in your area will have Twitter accounts. Engage with them, recommend them, share their content, and they might reciprocate and share yours. Additionally, getting involved in the community is always beneficial to make people aware of your offering. You never know, the restaurant down the road might have some business for you. In addition, make sure if you post interesting content about your city or region, to tag local travel pages – e.g. @VisitScotland, and use the area’s tourism hashtags, e.g. #SeeYourCity for New York. At times these accounts will retweet and share with their often extensive audiences.
What to Post on Twitter
Similar to Facebook you can use Twitter to provide some more info on the area or to share beautiful photography or video content from the region your short-term rental is located in. Also, post behind-the-scenes footage of your STR and special offers. And whereas a faux pas on Facebook, don’t be afraid to post the same tweet again after a while. Twitter is fast-moving and your tweet will only be seen by a fraction of the audience each time around. Finally, a tweet without a picture, is a lost tweet. Make sure you include pictures for all tweets to capture fellow Twitter users’ attention. If you do not have a lot of images at hand, Pexel and Unsplash provide high-quality images for free.
About the Author: A digital native, Susann has been working in the hospitality industry for over two years and has been consulting short-term accommodation operators as well as the Association of Serviced Apartment Providers on digital marketing.