It is no news that digital marketing is becoming more and more important for the hospitality industry. Especially social media takes up a huge part of it and mastering feels more complex each day. So which social media channels should you use to promote your short-term rental? All of them or just a selected few? We have taken the time to take a closer look at the four biggest social platforms. In our previous blog post we talked about Twitter and Facebook specifically. Find our expert guide Social Media for Short-term Rentals – Part I here.
In this blog we are sharing some advice on utilising Instagram and Pinterest for your vacation let. Read on to find out more!
After Facebook, Instagram is the second most popular platform of the big social media clients. Users flock to it to show off the holiday snaps, to get inspired as well as to keep in touch with friends and family. Big brands use Instagram to show of their products and offerings and many short-term rental operators have discovered it for themselves as well. For example, a 2018 report by Netbase found that the majority of public conversations around Airbnb happen on Instagram (40%). This is compared to other channels such as forums (16%), blogs (13%), Twitter (12%) or Facebook (5%). This means potential guests are on Instagram, but your competitors is as well. So how do you stand out, get more likes and create an impressive following on Instagram? It is a more or less an easy answer: provide content people are interested in.
Firstly, high-quality pictures of your short-term rental are a must. Most smartphones now take awesome photos, but make sure the lighting is good, the image is not overfiltered and you add a splash of colour to your pictures. For instance, if you are taking a picture of your Airbnb kitchen, add a vase of flowers. It is also useful to commit to a couple of hours to ‘shooting’, so you get a few different shots. These you can then post at a later time as well. Also, make sure to capture the quirks of your short-term let like a reading nook or the novelty clock in the living room. You can highlight also your facilities on your Instagram like a boat pier or billiard table. Bonus tip: If your offering is pet-friendly, get those four-legged friends into the spotlight. Instagram loves animals! Finally, do not be afraid to advertise the security and safety features of your short-term rental as well. As an example, mention the pool gates in the caption of a beautiful picture of your swimming pool.
However, do not just post about your vacation rental on your account. Provide inspiration why people should visit the area you are located in. And do not worry if you do not have a lot of nice pictures. Repost talented Instagrammers’ work as long as you give them credit. You can also use your account as a source of information for potential and future guests on what to do in the place you are located. Give some advice on where to eat, the most instagrammable photo spots and what to do. There is a local adventure farm nearby? Publish some pictures of it and more information about the local attraction.
Hashtags and Tagging Accounts
That you can use up to 30 hashtags for your Instagram post and that you should, too, is not novel advice. It is crucial for getting your content discovered by Instagram users. However, this year the concept of the shadow ban has been looming over people’s heads. Especially if you use Instagram for business with a business account and repeat the same hashtags over and over again, you might no longer show for these hashtags. Therefore, mix it up. Use different hashtags each time and sometimes more or less. Also, from my own research I have found that business accounts are more like to be affected by shadowbans. If you do not plan in investing money in Instagram ads just yet, remaining with a personal account might be a better option for you.
Secondly, tag relevant accounts in your pictures. For example, if you are posting about the destination, tag your area’s travel pages, for example @visitcalifornia. As well, depending on the type of accommodation you offer, there might be certain Instagram accounts dedicated to it. For instance, @thecabinland for cabins or @delightfulspaces for cottage-style interiors. They might repost your content and you can reach a much bigger audience.
To increase your audience further and grow engagement on your posts, you can use pods. Pods are groups of similar Instagram accounts, who support each other by liking each others’ content and commenting. These are usually organised through personal messages. Sometimes they are hard to find and you need to know someone who is in it already to be added. Nevertheless, there is a really helpful Facebook group for short-term rental hosts where you can share your Instagram content for mutual support. At times, pods will be advertised there, too.
With over 200 million users in 2018, Pinterest is worth a thought. Especially because many consumers use the platform for holiday inspiration. Users create boards like “Bucket list” or “Dream destinations” to remember places and travel tips for later. There are a couple of ways you can utilise Pinterest for your short-term rental. However, keep in mind that it is more of a useful tool to provide valuable info for future guests than a converting channel.
Showing Off Your Short-term Rental
First of all, you can create a board with pictures of your Airbnb. Always make sure to go into detail on what your pin is showing in the description. This helps getting your pins discovered on Pinterest. If you have a particularly good-looking Airbnb, who knows, people might save your pins for interior design inspiration.
In addition, I have seen boards which are a visual representation of the accommodation’s facilities. Through pins you can provide a good overview of all the short-term property has to offer – for example, pool, balcony, flat-screen TV and more. You can then cross-link them on our social channels to give more information on your Airbnb.
Extra Info for Future Guests
Lastly, you can use Pinterest to create boards for sharing handy content for future guests. For example, create a board with blog posts about fun activities in your STR’s area. Or make your own board with your favourite local attractions. Another idea would be to fill a board with recommended rainy-day activities guests can try when they stay with you. Post links to these boards on Facebook and Instagram or link to it in your pre-stay email and confirmations. E.g. “Check out our Pinterest board of the best things to do in Ohio.” This establishes you as a knowledgeable host and provide extra value to your guests. Finally, if you are offering any upsells – such as early check-ins, breakfast, parking etc – you can have a Pinterest board as a menu of additional services.
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.