The dramatic rise in popularity of visual social media means more opportunities for owners of vacation rentals to market their properties. It also means more confusion about how to get started and continue to consistently use these sites.
Social networks such as Google+, Facebook and Twitter are placing a much great emphasis on making it easier for users to consume visuals, from photos, to videos and infographics – and new social networks such as Pinterest and Vine are seeing dramatic increases in membership. This shift from text to visuals provides vacation rental owners with more opportunities to quickly and effectively connect with and share a large amount of relevant information with potential renters though along with it comes the challenge of how to stay organized and consistently market your rental. Getting started is one thing though staying the course is a totally different matter.
The problem as you are likely aware is how to know where to invest your time so that you will receive the most return on your investment – both now and in the future. The stories of owners that get immersed in the world of social communication only to later discover that all the hours that you have invested have hardly made any difference in the number of reservations that you receive are far too common.
The purpose of this post is to share a the blog hub strategy with you that will enable you to both get started, stay organized and continue to market your vacation rental on existing and new sites, without ever having to wonder about whether you are wisely investing your time and energy.
Here’s an image of what a Blog Hub looks like.
So how do you create an organized way of using these social sites?
You need a home base on the web from where you first share and create all your content. The most effective and powerful place to do this is from a blog. The reason for this is that blog enables you to quickly and easily curate and share articles, images, videos and related content about your rental.
You will benefit by having a central location, that you control, and that isn’t on a third party social network in many ways including:
1. Having all the information about your rental and the area in one place.
2. Being able to effectively and consistently promote your rental information across the most popular social network channels regardless of what happens to any one social network.
3. Always know exactly where to add new information about your rental.
The key: by having a “hub” you have the ability to push your content out to any and all the social networks that you belong to and then pull visitors back to your site for more detailed information and reservations without ever having to lose sleep over what social network is best to use. You’ll be in a position, once your HUB is set up, to join, connect and share your information on any social network because you’ve already created it on your own channel – your blog!
Where should you begin?
1. If you have a blog, ask yourself if you are using it “just as” a listing for your vacation rental or are you using it as a channel where you create and share useful and interesting information about your vacation rental and the area where it’s located. Remember you are the “expert” of the area and likely know far more than any renters do about your area.
2. If you don’t have a blog, then it’s time to set one up.
3. Once you have either set up a new blog or taken inventory of how you are currently using your blog, start to evaluate what information is most valuable to potential travelers.
What should you do with your blog?
The terrific aspect to owning a vacation rental and having a blog about it is that travel and vacations overlaps so many other highly popular online categories, including home decor, food, restaurants, destinations, weddings, entertainment, fashion, and many others.
The majority of blogs today by vacation rental owners are just advertisements for their property. This is alright though if your outcome is to effectively and efficiently leverage social media and communities to increase your reservations then you need to take a different approach.
This approach involves taking the most commonly asked information from travelers and organizing the answers on your blog in both photographs, videos and text descriptions. And the great thing about a blog, if you don’t already have one, is that it really is easy to organize information into different categories.
Getting your blog to stand out!
Think about the things in your area and about your rental that visitors commonly ask you. Write these questions down. Most likely they ask you about things such as:
1. What are the best places to eat and how far are they?
2. What are the major attractions?
3. What are your favorite places to visit in the area?
4. Is there mass transportation near the vacation rental?
5. How is your home furnished?
6. Is the beach safe for swimming and are there other beaches in the area that you like?
7. What is your favorite thing to do when you’re there?
Brainstorm a list of questions. Remember you’re the expert about your area and your vacation rental. Once you have come up with your questions, figure out what categories they go into. Next create those categories on your blog. Now start putting together photos, videos and answering the questions. The more work you do upfront and time you spend thinking about how to make your blog a really valuable education resource the more powerful it will be as a source of information for your future guests as well as for you to leverage it and promote your rental on other social networks.
One thing to keep in mind is that search engines are starting to place a much higher value on (1) the length of time that a visitor spends on a particular post and (2) how many clicks a post received when it was shared on a social media site.
What this means is that you should be:
1. Incorporating videos on your blog posts, so that visitors to your blog spend more time on a page, and
2. Writing interesting titles for each post so that when you start sharing them on sites such as Google+ and Facebook you receive a large number of click throughs and shares.
Remember that in order for this to work in a way that reduces the stress that is commonly associated with the rapid and overwhelming growth of social and produce a great ROI you should always start with your blog because once your have your own house in order — your blog — you will find it really easy to share what you have on any site that is out there — regardless of how things change.
In the next post I will discuss the importance of high quality images that share a story about your vacation rental and the area so that guests are drawn to your blog and to inquire about your property.