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The previous posts in the “Social Marketing 101 for Your Vacation Rental” series covered the basics of goal setting and determining the social networks and content that best suits your needs. Now I’ll cover how to build fans and engagement on your profiles within the largest social networks. 

 

Tactics for Facebookhttp://developers.facebook.com/docs/plugins/, YouTube and Twitter vary, but the main challenges and keys to success remain are universal. Building fans can be a challenge when you are starting to market your rental using social media. In order to attract people to your social profiles, you need to create quality content that’s relevant to your vacation rental and its location. Again, content is defined here as anything you’re publishing; from photos, to videos, to updates on events, deals or the weather. To keep people tuned in to your social profiles, you need to consistently update your content and engage with your fans and followers.  Let’s cover some strategies to build your accounts and engage with fans.

 

1.  Building awareness: What are some of the most common ways to inform people of your social media accounts?

 

•    Promote them on your website

     o    If you have a website, consider adding the social plug-ins available from Facebook such as the Like button, Comment box or buttons from other networks like Twitter.  By allowing people to share content from your site, you gain access to their social networks and therefore a larger pool of potential travelers.

     o    Consider adding a feed of your Facebook or Twitter content to your website.

 

•    Include your social media accounts in your communication to guests

     o    If you email guests, be sure to include links to your social accounts or via email signature so they receive updates from you.

     o    Add a note on your check-out instructions at your vacation rental to remind guests to Like your Facebook page or Follow you on Twitter, and provide the URLs.

 

•    Test Facebook ads

     o    If you have a budget for marketing, try testing a Facebook ad to encourage people to like your page. You can also use ads to try and fill vacant dates or inform travelers about specials.

          ♣    You can set any budget for your ads, from $1/day to $500/week, it’s up to you.

          ♣    To find more information on Facebook Ads, here is their ad guide.

     o    Facebook offers a variety of ads that enable you to promote content on your page, ask people to Like your page, promote dates you have availability and more.

 

•    Find others who post content relevant to your rental

     o    If you need to reach new fans of vacation rentals or the location of your rental, try reaching out to people who already have Facebook pages, Twitter accounts or YouTube channels about similar topics. To find these people use the search features of the social network and look for people mentioning the destination of your vacation rental.

     o    If you respond to content they are posting and share information with them, you can then ask them to interact with your account or repost your content.

          ♣    For example, if your local Visitor Bureau tweets about traveling to their destination, or about an upcoming event, respond to them with a link to your property and available dates.

 

•    Do you often have specials or deals?

     o    Consider promoting them through deals sites like Groupon, LivingSocial and Facebook Deals or Facebook Ads to reach a larger audience.

 

2.  Increasing engagement: How can you get people to interact with your accounts?

•    Content relevance is key

     o    In the third part of this blog series, I covered content types that work for each of the main social networks.  Ensure that your content is relevant to your audience and has a purpose.  It’s better to post less but ensure that the quality is high - versus posting regular superficial content.

     o    Content testing is also important. Vary and track the content/information you post to see which produces the most engagement with the people connected to your social accounts.

 

•    Stay engaged

     o    Push for interaction with your audience by asking questions, requesting reviews or testimonials, asking for comments when publishing photos, etc.

     o    Don’t over extend yourself. To be successful you have to publish quality content and spend time looking for opportunities to get involved in conversations that extend beyond marketing your rental. Engaging regularly with others will make them more likely to interact with you in the future.

 

•    Encourage interaction with your past guests

     o    When you email past guests or leave them instructions at your rental, tell people what you’d like them to do versus just mentioning your accounts. 

     o    Provide a link to your page, but if you’d like to get reviews on your Facebook page ask guests to post them there; if you’d like people to share photos on Twitter or videos on YouTube ask guests to share them with you. Giving guidance will increase the likelihood that you’ll get content from fans which will in turn get shared to their networks as well.

 

•    Offer social media exclusive discounts

     o    If you are connected to guests through Facebook or Twitter consider offering exclusive discounts to encourage travelers to stay connected to your accounts.

 

I also wanted to include this infographic from Ad Age that shows demographic data for some of the various social networks.  As you can see, many people using social media now fall into the target demographic for travelers that you’d like to market your rental to. This reinforces the importance of not only engaging in social media, but choosing the social networks that will have a higher probability of helping you achieve your goals.

 

In the final post of the ‘Social Marketing 101 for Your Vacation Rental’ series, I will cover managing your content and monitoring the social web, and how to determine whether your social marketing efforts are effective.