It’s amazing how the vacation rental industry has become so dependent on online travel agencies. There’s nothing wrong with OTA’s but let’s face it, it results in extra fees for the guest. With the online travel agencies owning a large portion of the online advertising space, it can be difficult to find your place when it comes to digital marketing for vacation rentals. Particularly when your goal is to generate direct bookings!
Ready or not, it’s here! It’s 2020 and social media marketing is changing daily. So it’s time to really put some thought into your 2020 social strategy.
- What sort of audience are you going to target?
- How are you going to increase your engagement with your content?
- Overall, how are you going to leverage your social channels to increase conversions and drive revenue?
These are all questions that need answers if you are planning on implementing a social strategy this year. And if you aren’t giving your social marketing any thought, consider this: There are over 2.8 billion people using Facebook and Instagram daily! That’s a huge number and it’s growing. Even the smallest campaigns with little to no budget get results because the audience base is so massive. Furthermore, the amount of data that can be utilized for targeting is the best we’ve seen in the marketing world to date.
Did you catch the video of the frozen alligators? I mean, who didn’t? It reached hundreds of thousands of people across the world and grew their Facebook followers to over 12,000 likes. Just minutes down the road from ICND world headquarters in Ocean Isle Beach, NC, our clients and friends over at the Shallotte River Swamp Park took a few videos that they’ve been posting on Facebook, and all of the sudden it’s on the DailyMail and National Geographic! Who knew?
Finding the right content
Getting a video to go viral is no easy task. You have to get it filmed, post it online, and pray to the viral gods that it continues to get picked up. But once it takes off it’s going to drive brand awareness, traffic, and ultimately–Conversions.
So what’s it take to make your video go viral like that? With Social Media integrating more and more viral videos in their organic feed, it seems like something we should all be integrating into our digital marketing strategy. But how do we make our videos go viral?
Its about unique content. Generally, it takes an original idea to make it big. There’s generally some copycat attention you can get from doing a related video, but for the most part, it takes an original video. Think about the momma giraffe that was pregnant and we all watched the Youtube feed for months waiting for her to go into birth. There’s some copycats with other types of animals, but nothing that big.
Ok, now you are in the vacation rental business, you really don’t have pregnant animals you can video… But you have amazing animals in your destinations. A lot of the vacation destination is getting into the nature and seeing animals. If you go to the beach and you see dolphins swimming it’s added value to your vacation. Swimming dolphins aren’t the greatest, but jumping herds of dolphins visible from the beach that you get just the right reel of, are. So it goes back to the originality and capturing just that right moment. Have a contest with your guests, millennials love this, to share the best video of their vacation.
The other aspect of the video should strike a chord in the emotion of the viewer. It’s going to make them laugh, cry, jump out of fear, etc. Most people want to share upbeat content. Like with the alligator, it’s all about the cold-blooded reptile surviving the bitter cold weather. Something we’ve never seen or encountered in our cozy, warm homes and offices.
The content should be short, sweet, and to the point. Again, it’s going to be very spontaneous. There may be some editing needed to get there. You’ll lose more than half of your audience before a minute, so cut to the chase.
Once you have your content posted and you see it’s starting to take off, tag or message your local news sources. They like to share in almost any viral video for the traffic and visibility of their social media posts. Once a few local news outlets pick it up, you know you are on to something and can start reaching out to your feeder markets. Those destinations have a good population interested in your area and will likely pick it up too. And really, from there, you can tag any of the big news outlets, but they’ll probably have picked you up. At this point, not only are you online, but you’ve probably gotten some free TV media time, as well.
So managers, get your social media managers out there looking for the right content to get out there. Buy them some quick video software to spruce it up and cut it into a solid reel, and watch your social media presence soar.
Social media has definitely earned it’s place in the ring with the big boys when it comes to vacation rental marketing. It has allowed us to engage with audiences on a very personal level and connect with people that were outside our grasp previously. However, there are some things that social media does not do and, in some cases, it tends to get a little too much credit in the grand scheme of the digital marketing plan. Today we are going to discuss
Are you looking to improve your social media engagement? Live streaming may be your key. Last year, apps like snapchat and periscope grew in rapid popularity. Other brands started to jump on the live streaming bandwagon. Facebook has now integrated this feature. You can integrate this into your vacation rental marketing plan and stay ahead of your competition.
Facebook lets you broadcast in real time. You don’t need fancy equipment, no hours of editing the material, and the live video option is built right into Facebook. The need for extra apps is gone. Just open the Facebook home page of your Profile or Page, click on the “status” button at the top, and choose the Live video icon.
Live streaming is all about connecting and interacting with your audience. It creates a personal presence that traditional videos don’t convey. It gives your customers a behind the scenes look on how beautiful your properties are and the amenities that make your properties special. You can tease your customers with how beautiful the weather is, or new properties that will be available to rent soon.
Customer service is an integral part of any business. Chances are, you get emailed and asked the same questions over and over. It is very important to answer every single question, even if it has been repeated several times.
For example, you can live stream a FAQ session. When you are finished it creates an archive that you can share with your customers and customer service team alike, so everyone is on the same page.
Below, are some tips of how you can utilize Facebook Live:
•Tell fans when you’re broadcasting ahead of time.Show the fans what they are missing by showcasing the scenic aspects of your area.
•Poll the audience : ask them what they like about your company and what you can improve upon. This is your chance to assess your strengths and weaknesses
•Asks viewers to subscribe to live notifications
•Say hello to commenters! Respond to their comments live!
•Share a success story
With Facebook live, you have the potential to reach everyone who follows you on Facebook. Give your customers the live experience, and show them who you really are! You can instantly respond to their comments, and see their reactions.
Before we get into the secret sauce, lets talk about – Why Facebook?
- 93% of adult US internet users in the US use Facebook. (Source: BlogHer)
- 25% of all US web traffic is Facebook. (Source: Hitwise)
That’s big! There’s no doubt about it that Facebook is the dominant player not only in social media but in total time spent online. Your clients are there and this is your best opportunity to reach them for very little cost.
As you decide to start using Facebook ads, the first thing you need to do is:
- Define your goals. Do you want more “likes” on your page? Do you want website traffic? Do you want engagement and reach of your posts? This will help you define the type of ad you will use and who you will be targeting.
- Choose a daily budget. We recommend to start with a daily budget no lower that $10/day for 3 months to really see some great results.
Once you define your goals, you’ll be choosing your ad types and targeting. This gets pretty exciting to see what you can do. What are all of the different types of ads on Facebook?
- Page Post Ads – Boost likes, comments and shares on individual posts that you make on your page.
- Create ads that target non-fans and increase the number of people who like your page.
- Clicks to website – create ads that direct people off of Facebook and onto your website. If you use the "Website Conversions" option, you will need to setup a "pixel conversion tracking code"
*There are 3 others that are not relevant so we won’t go into them.
Relevancy is KEY! The smaller more targeted audiences will perform best, but will be a smaller audience and cost more to reach.
15 Ad Targeting Options:
1-4. You must target 1 or more counties – (only required targeting option)
Location: Country/City/Zip Code + radius from city/zip. Targets by where they are physically located AND the address listed in their profile.
5/6. Age/Gender – Self explanatory here. You can also target people with a birthday in the coming week.
TIP – Don't select "Require exact age match" unless absolutely necessary – it’s cheaper if you leave this unchecked.
7/8. Precise Interest & Broad Category targeting: Reach people based on interests and information in their profile.
EXAMPLE: If you own a pet store in Myrtle Beach, you'd use precise targeting to reach people who own pets in Myrtle Beach; you'd use broad targeting to reach people in Myrtle Beach who are interested in animals.
- You CAN target both precise interests AND broad categories at the same time – this will shrink your potential audience by only targeting people who fall under both.
- You CAN target more than 1 precise interests and broad category at the same time – this will expand your potential audience by targeting people who fall under all of the selected interests and categories.
- Hashtags expand your interest targeting: #Cooking lets you reach people who are interested in cooking, cooking tips, and cooking and eating.
9/10. Connections – You must be an admin of the page/group/event but you can target only people who like – or only people who don't like the page/group/event. Target "friends of connections"
11-15. Advanced Targeting:
- Interested In: This allows a business to target Facebook users according to the gender they are interested in for a friendship, dating, a relationship or networking.
- Relationship Status: This allows a business to target Facebook users that are married, single, engaged, or in a relationship.
- Languages: This targeting option is best used when targeting an audience that speaks a language that is different from most of the people in the targeted geography.
- Education: This option enables the targeting of Facebook users that are in high school, college, or a college graduate. Businesses can also target Facebook users that went to a specific school, study a specific topic, or for current college students, their expected graduation date.
- Workplaces: Targeting Facebook users by where they work can be useful in various B2B, job search, and industry specific scenarios.
*Custom Audiences – Using email addresses, phone numbers or Facebook user IDS; you can target specific people on Facebook.
Expert Tip: Custom Audience Targeting allows you to upload your email list. *Combine this targeting with an exclusive "offer" to see BIG returns.
Next we should discuss the tool that you should be using to run these ads. There is only 1 that I will recommend and it’s free. It’s called the “Power Editor”. This is a Chrome plugin that is linked inside of the Facebook advertising center and built by Facebook.
So let’s talk about the $1 Facebook Ad Trick!
It’s well published on the web that an average Facebook page will only reach about 6% of their fans with posts. So this trick is aimed to help you reach 100% of your fans with just $1/day! How?
- First, I’m going to assume you know how to use the power editor and you know the basics of how Facebook ads work.
- Once you’re in the power editor and have downloaded your ads, we’re going to create a new campaign setting a budget of $2/day running it “continuously”.
- Next, you’ll need to create an “Adset” and then create an ad (placing it in the adset and campaign you just created).
- When creating your ad you need to select “Page Post Engagement” under the objective, select “For a Facebook Page using a post”, select your page from the drop-down, select “Automatically promote most recent post”, and choose “All Facebook” for placement.
· News Feed only posts will perform better but will also be more expensive.
- Next, under audience, you just need to target fans of your page.
- Lastly, under “Optimization & Pricing”, choose the CPM method and bid $1.00 no matter what the suggested bid says.
- Click “UPLOAD CHANGES” and wait for your ad to be approved.
I’ve presented on this topic so if you’d prefer to view it, you can follow along here: http://prezi.com/ff9r36vxt3gg/
I hope that this blog helps you better understand how Facebook advertising works and provides an easy to follow break down to run your own “$1 Facebook Ad Campaign”. If you need any assistance running Facebook ads for your business, we’d love to talk with you and help you with all of your internet marketing needs.
About the author: David Hutnik is the Social Media Director at InterCoastal Net Designs where they specialize in web design, search engine optimization, email marketing, social media and more. For more information about vacation rental internet marketing, check out our free downloads.
Have you dedicated any time or resources to Google+? If you have for your business, chances are you still don't spend a significant amount of time on Google+ personally. Well there has been a lot of recent news about changes on Google+ so I'll take a few minutes to explain them and how they will impact the vacation rental industry.
The Intercoastal Net Designs team is excited to showcase one of our biggest success stories. Myrtle Beach Resort Vacations started a social media campaign with us back in December of 2012 with around 1,300 Facebook fans. Here we are just 14 months later at over 100,000 Fans and a very active community on Facebook for Myrtle Beach Resort.
Studies have shown (Framingham Heart Study) that men who regularly vacation are 32% less likely to die of heart related illnesses compared to men who do not take a regular vacation. What’s worse is that women who don’t vacation twice a year are 8 times MORE likely to suffer from a heart related illness. These studies reinforce the notion that happier, healthier people across the board, know that rest and relaxation are vital to their health.
The question is: are you capturing every demographic the correct way?
Today’s marketing tools make it easier than ever to target specific demographics:
Facebook Targeted Ads– Facebook ads have come a long way in terms of targeting. Users of Facebook today are revealing more and more information within their own profiles that Facebook has tactfully gained access to who each user is. If one bedroom condos are a large part of your inventory still in stock, the ability to create an ad specifically toward those in relationships with less than 2 children as well as including the unmarried and married with less than 2 children, ensures that those in your target segment are the only ones who are viewing such an ad.
Facebook Post Targeting– Did you know you can cater a post to specific demographics? Much like Facebook ads, specific post targeting allows you to display certain posts to current fans that you wish to capture. Suppose there are a number of units you’d like to see booked for an upcoming weekend. Depending on your vacation rental price points, wouldn’t it make sense to target to those solely within a day’s drive? Creating a targeted post highlighting this facet has the potential to yield higher results.
First, let’s set the tone for where Pinterest stacks up to the other social media sites.
- 70 Million Users
- 60% Female
- 20% of all US women
With all of the buzz around this new social network, it’s important to note that it is still NOT a dominant platform, however, there are some great features to leverage as a Vacation Rental that I’d like to showcase here along with ideas on how you can utilize them. ICND was glad to contribute this article previously to Vacation Rental Managers Association (VRMA).
#1: Pinterest added an incredible new feature November 2013 called “Place Pins”. This allows you to pinpoint key places around the town with a map shown in the background. You can create this for local restaurants, beach access and other highlights of your town to help your vacationers enjoy a great trip. You can embed these into your website as well to keep visitors on-site, allowing you to be a resource to others. Example: http://www.pinterest.com/sloanevacations/explore-ocean-isle-beach
Read all about how to create these “Place Pins” for yourself in our blog on Pinterest Place Pins
#2: Pin-It Buttons: You can add a button to your blogs or other content on your site that makes it easy for users to “Pin” from your website. You can also add a “hover button” so that as visitors on your website hover their mouse over a photo, the “Pin-it” button appears and they will be able to pin easily. This “hover button” is nice because it is easy to add (depending on how your website is programmed and what access you have) and it doesn’t interfere with the rest of your website design. http://business.pinterest.com/pin-it-button/ – http://business.pinterest.com/widget-builder
#3: Product Pins (Add Pricing and Description to your Vacation Rentals): This requires a web developer to help you but adding some code to your website can allow Pinterest to pull pricing, description, availability, location and property name with your vacation rentals pictures when they are pinned. – http://developers.pinterest.com/rich_pins/#oembedType
#4: Promoted Pins: These are brand new and not available for everyone at this time. You can apply to have this feature but it depends on your budget. http://business.pinterest.com/promoting-pins/
– As Pinterest describes, they are “Tasteful, Transparent and Relevant…” so you can anticipate them not being annoying and hopefully targeted to your interests. For VRMs, this means that you can target your rentals through Pinterest to users who pin vacation destinations, located in target regions and fall into the demographics you’d like to reach. Keep an eye on this feature as it continues to be developed in 2014.