How To Build Your Vacation Rental Brand Using Social Media

Today, marketing is at an entirely different place than it was even 5 years ago. Whether your rental business is new, or well established, to stay competitive you have to use all the new trends in brand building. You don’t (and won’t) get as well known as McDonald’s of Apple – and that’s not the objective – it’s about an identity. You don’t want to build something around your product, either: there’s nothing in your product that somebody else can’t duplicate, copy, and reuse, and therefore it can’t be ‘the difference’.

Brand is about personality and trust. Brand is about you being in front of mind when a holidaymaker who has connected with you in some way eventually makes a decision to rent somewhere.

Eschew social media branding at your peril. Social Media isn’t about sending messages to your friends about what you ate for breakfast. It’s about grabbing access to thousands of potential customers that you couldn’t dream to reach out to even 3 years ago. Customers who rent holiday homes also use Social Media to follow their interests and hobbies and to ‘follow’ experiences that to them are new or interesting.

You simply must tap into the magic of social media marketing. Here are a few tips to get you started.

Social Media Marketing is more than Facebook and Twitter

Facebook and Twitter are undeniably the most popular and well known social networking sites, but when you’re using social media as part of your marketing, you need to be aware of, and utilize, all of the social media marketing tools available to you. Stumbleupon, Linkedin, Delicious and Digg are powerful social media tools as well. In fact, you can link your Digg account with your other social media accounts to save yourself time in posting to accounts individually. So, the first step in creating a successful social media marketing strategy is to establish your self within all of these online communities, perhaps through Digg, and begin building your online presence.

Social Media Marketing is for Building Relationships

Social media marketing isn’t about selling anything. It is to set yourself apart from your competition through developing personal relationships with people that will result in loyal customers and being ‘front of mind’ when someone wants something, or someones friend (or friend of friend) wants the same.

Give Your Network a Reason to Come To You

You mustn’t persistently push your business – which means you will simply be ignored or ‘un-friended’ – and you don’t want to tell people what you had for breakfast (they aren’t interested), do offer your knowledge about your locale, high quality content about what’s happening around you. Events, changing seasons, wine growing, olive cultivating, festivals, religious holidays, and so on. In doing so you will establish yourself as and someone who ‘knows’ and have given your network something of value, for free. Subconsciously they will develop a sense that they ‘owe’ you something in return. Becoming your customer fulfills that sense of obligation.

Your Start Up Checklist

For those who are new to the whole idea of using online tools to build your rental brand, here’s a checklist to help you get started.

* Open a Facebook account.

* Open a Twitter account.

* Open a StumbleUpon account.

* Open a Digg account.

* Open a Google Buzz account.

Coping with all of these sites can be time consuming and take a lot of effort. But there are some shortcuts, and here’s what you can do next.

* If you haven’t got a blog already, get one. Go to WordPress (or whichever free blog hosting site you prefer) and start a blog on your rental. It’s really very easy to do (and I’ve written here and here about how)

* Set up a complete, friendly, profile for your self in the ‘About’ section.

* Post some pictures to help people feel a personal connection to you.

* If you can, post some videos.

* Start posting stuff – information about your locale, your property as a living thing, and best of all if you can, tell stories about your rental (readers love stories and stories are better remembered if they resonate with someone)

* Use your posts to update your social media network automatically (there are WP plugins that do this automatically)

* If you have a website, link it to your blog.

You’re creating a ‘funnel’ for your contacts on your multiple social media accounts and giving them easy, convenient access to your rental by simply keeping them up to date on current happenings through your blog content.

If all of this sounds like a little much to do, don’t worry, because you still have options. With the growing importance of social media marketing has come a host of resources to assist you with the multiple tasks involved in making a campaign work successfully. You can outsource specific startup or ongoing tasks, such as social media page creation, grabbing contacts or followers, updating posts at a regular weekly rate, and so on. This gets you established fast. You can contact me for more information on good places and people to outsource with.

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