The potential is huge!
Research by Social Media Today reveals that people can spend up to 30% of their time online browsing social media, and most of that is on mobile devices – 60%.  What’s more, 34% of millennials (aged 26-40) have booked a holiday or break because of specific content they’ve seen on social media. 
When it comes to deciding what to actually book, 49% of leisure travellers in the UK (aged 18-34) rely on Facebook and it’s associated apps (Instagram, Facebook Messenger and WhatsApp) for inspiration before making their decision.  For vacation rental owners, taking advantage of the power of social media can significantly boost your online presence and allow you to tap into potential guests at key points in their buying journey.
What social media channels should you use?
When it comes to promoting your holiday property online, there are lots of different social media channels to choose from. While they all follow the same approach of posting content such as photos, written posts/updates, and videos, each has its own unique audience. Facebook and Instagram are the most popular channels, so if you are just starting out, it makes sense to begin with those, and add others like Pinterest, Twitter and YouTube later.
Identify your target audience
Before you start posting content, take some time to identify who your target audience is. Who is your property best suited to, and who would you most like to come and stay? That’s your target audience. Are you ideally looking for families, couples, larger groups, pet owners, or people with specific interests (e.g. walkers, golfers) to book your property? Finding your niche and tapping into this specific audience through your social media channels will help you stand out and increase the potential of your holiday property.
Post specific content
Once you have identified your target audience, you can then begin promoting specific features of your property, and of the surrounding area that appeals to them. For example, if your property is family-friendly (with family-friendly amenities like a high chair, cot, stair gates, an enclosed garden, toys and children’s play equipment etc), be sure to post about all these features. If you allow dogs at the property (making this change could boost bookings by up to 17% according to Classic Cottages), be sure to make this clear in your social media posts.
Another good tip to attract your target audience is to recommend specific attractions they can visit when they book a stay in your property:
– For families, think local attractions that are suitable for families, child-friendly days out, amusement parks, plus child-friendly cafes and restaurants nearby.
– For dog-loving guests, you could recommend local walks as well as dog-friendly pubs and restaurants.
– For couples think restaurants, spas, and local attractions as well as outdoor activities and walks.
– Feature selected ‘hidden gems’ in your area that people might not necessarily know about e.g. the best beaches, parks, cafes and restaurants from a local will help ensure a loyal following.
– Feature local businesses that your guests could visit e.g. farm shops, spas, local pubs, activity centres – they’ll appreciate the gesture and will hopefully return the favour!
Getting started on Facebook
With over 2.6 billion monthly active users, Facebook is the world’s most popular social media platform. According to Omnicore, the average Facebook user has 155 friends, so tapping into these networks is a great way to promote your holiday property for free. When people ‘like’ and ‘share’ your content on Facebook, it can be seen by all of their friends who may in turn like and share again, dramatically increasing the number of people you can reach with a single post.
When it comes to deciding which holiday property to book, people will often make their choice based on somewhere that’s been recommended. Developing a base of loyal fans from your Facebook page who can promote your property by word of mouth is super valuable.
To get started, set up a dedicated Facebook business page for your property. Check out the recommended tips in Facebook and Hootsuite guides – both are really helpful. As well as helping things look more professional, you can also begin gathering reviews for your property on Facebook to boost credibility. From your business page, Facebook offers the ability to ‘boost’ specific posts for a fee – you choose how much you want to spend over what period of time, and Facebook will ensure your post reaches a much wider audience than just posting organically.
When you boost a post, you choose who will see it based on a wide range of demographics, interests and behaviours; e.g. parents, people with an interest in pets etc. Your aim should be to match the post content to your target audience. This handy infographic from Wordstream shows you all of Facebook’s targeting options.
Getting started on Instagram
Instagram is a photo-based social media channel that’s an ideal platform for holiday homeowners to show off their properties at their very best. You can also re-post content from other Instagram accounts, as long as you provide the appropriate credit.
As well as posting to your Instagram grid, it is also a good idea to share content via Instagram Stories. Stories are online videos that last for 24 hours, so the content can be a bit more rough and ready that what you’d post to your grid, and is an ideal way to share content when you are out and about around your property or the local area.
Don’t forget to use relevant hashtags when you post to Instagram to attract people to your posts. For example, if you have a cottage in Cornwall that is perfect for surfers and dog lovers you could add the hashtags #Cornwall #holidayhome #dogfriendly #surfing to your post. If someone was searching for #Cornwall, they would see your post in their results. Look at the hashtags your competitors use and do some additional research to see which ones have the biggest following and then start using them on your posts.
Engage with people
One of the most important things to encourage via your social media channels is audience engagement. When someone engages with your content, it means that they choose to respond to your posts by hitting like or share, commenting on the post, checking in at your specific location or tagging you in their own posts. This kind of engagement is super useful as it brings you lots of additional exposure at no extra cost!
Good engagement isn’t just responding to the comments you receive, it’s also about posting the type of content that people want to respond to. Get creative, ask your followers for their opinions, ask them questions and share beautiful, inspiring, useful and informative content every time you post. Keep an eye on your most engaging posts and the type of content you’ve shared. What do people really like? Remember too that video posts tend to get higher engagement than photos, so experiment with videos, perhaps a walk-around of your property or the grounds so show it off is a good place to start.
Unlock the potential of your vacation rental
Run a competition
A great way to boost followers and engagement to your social media pages – particularly Facebook and Instagram – is to run a competition. Start by checking out Facebook’s competition rules before you begin. Next, determine the prize – this could be anything from a short break at your property, an extra night added to an existing break, free entry to a local attraction etc.
Make sure the prize offered is as relevant as possible to your target audience. A good way to attract followers is to ask people to ‘like’ your competition post, and tag someone in the comments (who will hopefully like your page too!). You might also consider boosting your competition post with a paid ad to increase the reach. We also recommend cross-promote your competition on other social media platforms such as Instagram too.
 How Much Time Do People Spend on Social Media? (Infographic), Social Media Today, Available at: https://www.socialmediatoday.com/marketing/how-much-time-do-people-spend-social-media-infographic
 A third of millenials say posting pictures on social media is as important as the holiday itself, The Telegraph, 23rd August, 2018. Available at: https://www.telegraph.co.uk/travel/news/millennials-social-media-holidays/
 Understanding the Journey of the Connected Consumer in Leisure Travel, Facebook for Business, 8th November 2018. Available at: https://www.facebook.com/business/news/insights/understanding-the-journey-of-the-connected-consumer-in-leisure-travel
Find out more
TravelNest gets your property seen in all the right places. We can list your property on over 30 of the best booking channels including Airbnb, Booking. com, Expedia, HomeAway, TUI and TripAdvisor.