In this final post in the Social Marketing 101 series I’ll provide you with lists of tools to assist with managing your content, monitoring the social web and determining which of your efforts are effective.
Monitoring the Social Web and Managing Your Content:
There are many free, or inexpensive, tools available to help you monitor the social web for mentions of your vacation rental location, travel and events that are relevant to you. There are also free or low cost tools that can help you schedule in advance the content you want to publish on your accounts, as well as keep track of engagement happening with your accounts. This is by no means a comprehensive list of tools available; these are just some of the more popular ones on the market now.
The best thing to do would be to test these tools and see which work best for you. Scheduling content ahead of time is a helpful time saver, and I’d recommend trying the tools below that allow you to both schedule content and monitor your account. Another time saver is finding the best tool that will allow you to keep track of the interactions happening with your accounts in one location.
Determining if your Efforts are Effective:
Once you have started your social marketing efforts you’ll want to determine what is working well and what isn’t, so you can focus on the most productive activities. Within Facebook and YouTube are in depth analytics data that will provide you insight into your account growth, content that is most engaging, where your fans are located and more. Beyond using the information that the networks provide, there are more free tools that help you gauge your overall social presence. For Twitter- there are countless free tools to help you measure performance. Below is a list of some of the most used tools, but again, this is not a comprehensive list and you might find additional services that work better for your needs.
With that, I’ve covered the basic phases to getting started with social media marketing. I look forward to seeing the conversations about what works for your vacation rental in theCommunity Forums and in this group.
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 Facebook, 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.
• 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.
In the first two posts I’ve discussed goal setting and determining which social networks will help you achieve your goals, as being the first steps to take when marketing your vacation rental using social media. Today I’ll cover how to decide on types of content that you could publish.
Step 3: Decide on the types of content that you want to publish on social networks
First, let’s define content; in this context we are talking about any information, photos, videos, links to websites, etc that you have available and want to share. Different types of content work better for different social networks. If you’re time constrained you need to think about content that is readily available to you, and easy to publish, but if you have more free time then you can be more creative with what you publish. Be imaginative with information that you can share and create content that encourages engagement.
What information do you have that’s “insider knowledge” for the location of your rental, or just some of your favorite things in that location? Do you know the best shop to go for coffee in the morning, know of great deals at local restaurants, or the perfect spot to see that amazing sunset?
Photos of your rental or local events and attractions near your vacation home are easy ways to create new content and share relevant information with potential guests
Offering a deal or freebie that is exclusive to your fans on social networks
Sharing videos of your rental or the town where your rental is located. If you don’t have any video consider creating a few short tours of your rental or favorite attractions in the area. Adding a personal touch through video could make a potential guest feel more comfortable when considering renting your home.
Again, let’s go through the well known social sites and talk about content types that work best for them. Keep in mind though, without engaging with the community, publishing content isn’t going to yield results.
Updates about your rental business and events in your rental location
Links to local attractions, restaurants you enjoy, discounts being offered in the area, posts about “things to do” or “what you should know about X city”
Photos of your rental and the area including attractions and events
Video tours of your rental and the local area and/or local businesses you enjoy
Deals can be publicized or offered exclusively to your Facebook fans on your page. You can also utilize Facebook’s new Dealsproduct which will allow you to create a deal that can be found on mobile applications and by subscription.
Poll your fans about your home or fun facts about the area with the Questions product on your page
Add your vacation rental as a location guests can “check in” to on Places and updates will be shared with their networks giving your business more exposure
There are also easy to use applications that allow you to create custom landing pages, or Welcome Tabs to greet visitors of your page. These applications, such as Pagemodo or Involver, are easy to set up and install on your page.
Short snippets of information about your rental and the area such as:
Deals for your rental, calendar updates, reviews received, last minute vacancy dates, events and attractions in the area, deals being offered from nearby businesses or restaurants
Links to video tours you’ve posted on YouTube or your website
Video tours of your rental
Videos of events or attractions in the location of your rental
Video of tips for things to do, places to eat, museums to visit, etc
Photos of your rental, your local area, events and attractions
Contribute reviews of your favorite restaurants and shops
Join conversations in the Talk and/or Events areas. The key here is to contribute to the conversation and not only talk about your rental. Look for conversations where it may be appropriate to join and talk about your rental though.
Deals if you offer them
Tips for what to do in the area
Contribute your expertise about the vacation rental industry, your business or your local knowledge
The important thing about Forums is to find something you’re interested in talking about and become a part of the community with conversation and not just marketing your rental
Local information can be a great conversation on destination based forums where you can add value with local knowledge
Blog on your personal website about local information and features of your rental
Provides an opportunity to engage with travelers and potential customers through your blog
Find opportunities to guest blog on other sites that discuss topics where you could add value to the blogger’s site
Often you will be able to include your bio with a link to your personal site or vacation rental listing so guest blogs aren’t overly “salesy”
Guest blogging can also help with search engine rankings by providing links to your personal website or your vacation rental listing
Pin attractive and eye-catching photos (and videos) of your vacation rental.
Create boards associated with your location in order to educate travelers about the area.
Things To Do, Sights to See, Area Attractions, What to Pack, Local Beaches; all relating to the location of your rental.
The content you pin surrounding your rental will inform travelers about the area, and make them more likely to be interested in your property.
In Part 4 of ‘Social Marketing 101 for Your Vacation Rental’, we’ll discuss how to build fans and engagement on your profiles.
In the first blog I discussed goal setting as the first step to start marketing your vacation rental using social media sites. Now we’ll cover how to determine which networks will help you accomplish those goals and the time needed for each.
Step 2: Determine social networks that can meet your objectives and time commitments
As much as we’d all like to participate in all of the social networks, there are too many at this point to be able to utilize all of them effectively. You need to take your business objectives and availability and match them to the various social networks to see which is the best fit for you. Remember, just because the mainstream media is mentioning a social network everyday that doesn’t mean it makes sense for your business.
Let’s break down some of the basic uses for the more well-known social sites as well as the time commitment required to succeed on each:
(HomeAway research has shown that Facebook is the most utilized social network among our travelers)
Connecting with past guests
Finding potential guests
Connecting with other owners and vacation rental-related businesses
Publishing a variety of content types (photos, links, videos, stories, etc) in one location
Using it as a website if you don’t currently have one
To get the most out of Facebook create a Page, not a profile for your business
Initially low, if your page grows significantly and is very active then medium
Finding potential travelers
Connecting with local businesses and events organizations
Publishing short updates about your business and links to other sites
Medium if you want to build an active and engaged network
Showcasing videos about your rental and the area where your rental is located
Low to Medium depending on how intricate you want your videos to be and whether you’ll spend time filming and editing versus hiring someone
Options for videos: Below are examples of owners and managers who’ve done well at showcasing their homes through a variety of different video setups.
As I’m sure you’re aware, everyone is trying to market their products or services using social media. If you’re just getting started with social media marketing, it can be difficult to decide where to start and how to most effectively use your time. Some people think the “try a little bit of everything” approach is best, but if you have limited time and resources, you need to concentrate on networks that will be most effective for your goals.
This series of posts will discuss the steps you should take to create an effective plan to market your vacation rental using social media. Over the next few days we will cover setting goals, determining networks to use, deciding what types of content to publish, building fans, monitoring the social web and measuring your effectiveness.
Step 1: Set goals and realistic expectations for your social marketing
To be successful with any type of marketing you need goals to determine what tactics you need to do to meet those goals. Is your goal to reach new travelers or to communicate with returning guests? Do you want to try to market locally or nationally? Would you consider yourself a success if you are engaging with people who love your rental or do you need to drive inquiries to feel that social marketing is worth your time?
Once you’ve answered those types of questions, you can decide how much time you have to allocate to social marketing. If you have a few hours a month, you need a social outlet that doesn’t require much commitment, such as a blog or forum participation. If you are able to be active daily or weekly, one of the mainstream social channels, like Facebook, Twitter or Yelp, could be a good choice for you. The other thing to keep in mind is that you don’t want to participate just to be involved in a social network. In order to be effective when you’re engaging on a social network you need to be adding value to a conversation, not just providing information, or else others won’t be receptive to your communication.
After you’ve defined your goals and how much time you’re willing to devote to social marketing, it’s time to decide where to participate. In Part Twoof ‘Social Marketing 101 for Your Vacation Rental’, I’ll discuss how to determine social networks that can meet your objectives and time commitments needed.