Social networking — and Facebook, in particular — is something we receive a lot of questions about from vacation homeowners. Often, these questions are about why (“What's the point?” “Why should I bother?”), not just “how.” Rather than duplicate Facebook's detailed help pages about the nuts and bolts of getting set up on Facebook, we decided to take a slightly different approach. Instead, we talked to real vacation rental owners to find out why they decided to get on Facebook and what they hope to get out of it.
fan page for their North Carolina beach house (HomeAway #169393), with a little help from their teenage children.
Nazario was initially attracted to Facebook because of its wide reach. Facebook has more than 400 million active users, according to the company, and those users share more than a billion pieces of content (photos, videos, web links) each week. For Nazario, that seemed like too big an opportunity to ignore. And as he started experimenting with the technology himself, Nazario says, “I realized that this is really powerful stuff!”
Vacations, Nazario knew, are about more than just the sum of their parts: they're about building memories. And Facebook, because it's “more personal and emotional” than other forms of communication like e-mail, seemed the ideal medium to convey to his guests that his family's vacation home “is more than a five-bedroom house.”
By establishing a Facebook page where guests can post photos and videos of their kids playing by the pool or sitting around the kitchen table, he hopes to build a relationship with former guests that allows them to feel the same sort of emotional link to their beach house that his family does. “I want to establish an emotional bond with people,” he says.
What's the point?
In addition to encouraging guests to post photos and testimonials on his home's Facebook page, Nazario also plans to use the calendar feature to post information about upcoming local events and the discussion forum feature to post open-ended questions, such as “Would you like a heated pool?”
“I haven't figured it all out yet,” Nazario admits, adding that it is probably too soon to see the effects of Facebook on his bookings for this season. But the end result, he hopes, will help drive repeat renters and increase word-of-mouth bookings.
If you're itching to give Facebook a try yourself, we've answered a few of Facebook newbies' frequently asked questions to help you get started.
Q. What's the difference between a Facebook profile and a Facebook page?
Facebook profiles are only for individuals, not for businesses or groups. When you join Facebook, you can update your personal profile and add friends under your own name only, but any Facebook user can also create separate Facebook pages to represent, say, a vacation rental. A Facebook page is a public profile specifically designed for businesses, organizations and public figures. Facebook users who interact with your Facebook page are called “fans,” rather than “friends.”
Q. What's the difference between a Facebook page and a Facebook group?
A group is a simpler, but more limited way to create a presence for an organization or cause on Facebook. Facebook users who interact with your group are called “members,” rather than fans or friends. Both pages and groups allow users to post photos, links, comments, and discussion topics, but Facebook pages offer a number of features that Facebook groups do not.
Among the key differences: Facebook fan pages are visible even to people who aren't registered or logged in on Facebook — groups are not. Facebook allows you to view certain statistics for activity on your pages, so you can track page views, comments, new fans, and other data. Facebook pages (and profiles — but not groups) can also be customized with additional “apps.”
If you're concerned about maintaining a distinction between your personal and professional worlds on Facebook, pages are a better option. On a Facebook page — unlike a group — the real names and Facebook profiles of the page administrators are not displayed. When you post a link or a photo to your page, the action is attributed to the page (“Cape Cod Beach House”) rather than to you as an individual.
Q. How does a Facebook page “go viral”?
When a new person becomes a fan of your page — or when a fan posts comments or photos to your Facebook page, those actions typically show up in a newsfeed seen by all of their Facebook friends. This is how word about your vacation rental spreads to new people, without you contacting those people directly on your own. If you fill your page with compelling content, people will want to share it.
Q. But how do I actually build a page?
For specific questions about creating a Facebook page, you'll want to consult Facebook's Help Center. You can also join our Social Media Group on Community for lots of up-to-date information.
© Copyright HomeAway, Inc. 2012