by Jonathan Murray of MyVR.com
Social media isn’t just another medium to broadcast your message. It’s also a channel for building relationships and soft selling. Facebook is an excellent way to turn existing customers into repeat customers that also generate referral business. It’s a place to nurture past guests, nurture those who were interested in your home but didn’t book, and keep in touch with top influencers (i.e. family and friends who may not book directly, but will likely refer you to friends and colleagues who will book).
If you don’t have a Facebook Page for your vacation rental, set one up here. This is different than your personal profile - it’s the home base for your business on Facebook.
Then, make sure you’re following these top 5 tips for marketing on Facebook:
1. Don’t promote yourself all the time
Rookie mistake #1. If every post is “stay at my home,” “rent my villa,” or “check out my place,” you’re not going to have many fans for long. You can talk about your home once in every five posts (or less). Don’t try to sell too much on Facebook. It’s all about building and nurturing relationships with your fans. This means you’ll need to come up with other compelling content to publish, so experiment and see what fans interact with most.
2. Post photos and other engaging content
Photos have the highest engagement from fans (i.e. comments and “likes”), followed by videos, so give them what they want to see. Yes, that means having stunning photos of your home, but also include shots from the surrounding area and local attractions. Remember, people have “liked” your Page because they want to stay connected with you in some way. Not every traveler is ready to book today, so help them daydream about their next vacation and when they’re ready, they’ll let you know.
You can also post local updates, special offers and deals, recognize special occasions for travelers, ask your fans for feedback, or share personal notes. Here are 10 more specific examples for ideas.
3. Post frequently, but don’t inundate fans
You should post at least 1-2 times per week, but not so much that people are annoyed - no more than once per day. You don’t want your Page to look like a ghost town, so be prepared to commit at least 10-20 minutes per week to Facebook.
You can also use Facebook’s scheduling tool to post content up to 6 months in advance. That might be a bit overkill, but it’s great for when you’re out on vacation - just leave enough room for last-minute, spontaneous additions.
4. Understand the network-effect
Not every post you publish will be seen by all of your fans. Facebook only shows your post to a sub-set of fans on their wall. As people interact with your content, Facebook allows that post to be seen by more and more people - including friends of your fans who may not even like your Page yet. This is why it’s okay if you only have a 100 fans on your Page and all the more reason to post enticing content.
5. Track your success
The way travelers purchase on the internet has changed. They do a lot more research before they ever pick up the phone or send an email to talk to you. While you should track direct bookings that resulted through your Facebook activity, try to correlate the effect of Facebook as an influencing source on your inquiries and bookings.
For example, how many of those people who inquired on your property have “liked” your page. How many have “liked” your page after visiting your website or inquiring on your property? How many referrals did you receive from your Facebook fans?
These measurements will help you decide whether to keep up the hard work or focus your time and resources elsewhere.
6. [Bonus] Get ready for graph search
Facebook’s new feature, Graph Search, lets you search for what you’re looking for through your friends and connections. For vacation rental owners, this means more transparency for travelers about how they’re connected to you. Instead of operating on trust that you are reliable or have advertised your home truthfully, travelers can now see (and choose to rent or not rent) from owners within their network.
Travelers will also be able to search for friends who have stayed at a vacation rental in a specific location and see photos they’ve shared of their trip. It will make the research process even more transparent, drive referral business for popular rentals, and continue changing the way people rent online.
Graph Search is only available to a limited number of users, but expect it to be rolled out across Facebook by the end of the year. In the meantime, make sure to get your page live, continue building your social network, and follow the previous 5 tips to maximize your vacation rental presence on Facebook.
Looking for more tips to market your home on Facebook? Download MyVR’s free e-Book, Facebook Marketing for Vacation Rental Owners.
Jonathan Murray is the CEO of MyVR.com, a company that helps vacation rental owners increase their bookings with less work. With MyVR, vacation rental owners can create a website and Facebook Page, then easily advertise on FlipKey, Craigslist, Google, Yahoo!, Bing and more all from a centralized management dashboard.