Social media is a powerful tool to get discovered and generate interest in your listing. Learn the secrets on how to build a strong online presence from an expert digital marketer (and Superhost).
Navigating the social media landscape can feel like you’re lost in the woods. Where do you start? How do you create great content? And how can it translate into more bookings? Tom Feldman of Tye Haus in Skykomish, Washington shares his successful (and refreshingly human) approach to building a following and making your home an absolute must-visit.
Tom’s Tips to Make Your Home a Social Media Star
- Name your space
- Start with beautiful photos
- Create creative partnerships
- Build a following
- Be genuine
TYE HAUS IS BORN
Tom: Our hosting story began back in 2012 when we bought our first A-frame, Tye Haus. We fixed it up, listed it on Airbnb, and started an Instagram account with pictures of our home alongside cinematic scenes from the area—our hikes, local attractions, what we loved on the grounds. Soon after that, popular photographer Alex Strohl reached out to us and asked about collaborating. We hosted him for two months as a sort of creative retreat in exchange for pics to share on our feed. As we began to post Alex’s photos, that’s when our popularity took off. It was the first of many collaborations and contests to come.
My family and I now manage three A-frame cabins, and we continue to host influencers from all over the world. In exchange for sharing their credited content on our feed, we provide them with a place to explore, adventure, and relax. This has become one of our primary marketing techniques. We’ve gone from a 30% occupancy rate to close to 100%, filling up weekdays as well as off-season months. We’ve also built an online following of nearly 115K. Here are our tips on how to put your home on the social media map.
01. Name your space
The first step to marketing your home may seem small, but it’s an important one—and that’s to name your space. You want to find a name that’s distinct, memorable, and clever. Then, you can brand your home and register your username on Instagram.
Here are a few questions to help you brainstorm a name:
- What kind of home do you have? Is it a chalet, a beachfront property? Is it a tudor home or a loft?
- Do you have a theme? Do your interiors follow a particular style? Is it pirate-themed (which exists!)?
- Is there a connection to your location, city, or town? Can it be incorporated into your name?
- Is there a historical significance? The perfect name may be waiting to be uncovered from the past.
Do some research online and find out what other listings are doing, as well as what names are available on social media. For us, we named our first cabin after one of the neighboring rivers, the Tye River. The spelling of the second half, Haus, was inspired by a nearby Bavarian-themed town called Leavenworth. Together, it became Tye Haus.
02. Start with beautiful photos
Once you’ve got your name and your social media handles, you’ll want to start out the gate with beautiful pictures. Do not, I repeat, do not, start with a bunch of crummy photos. The images on your feed are the first thing that people will see—and you want them to feel inspired! They’re what’s going to sell your listing. Your photos should be:
- Consistent. Maintain a uniform look and aspirational aesthetic.
- High-quality. Post sharp, vivid, high-caliber images and videos—avoid grainy or blurry photos.
- Accurate. Content should reflect your property well.
Try to capture what sets your home apart. Is it the interiors, character, or location? Find what really makes your property interesting. Remember that you’re not just advertising your space, you’re also sharing the experience people can have if they visit: your location, the sights, and the activities in the area. If you’re not great at taking photos, considering hiring a professional photographer to start.
03. Create creative partnerships
Another way to generate beautiful content for your feed is to collaborate with influencers (e.g. photographers, bloggers, and videographers) and offer discounted stays in exchange for content. We recommend researching and reaching out to local photographers, bloggers, videographers, and content creators in your area.
This strategy is one of the primary traffic drivers to our page. As influencers share their posts of your space, new users will come across it and discover your home.
When reaching out to influencers to make an ask, it’s important to:
- Be professional. Go in prepared and knowledgeable. Ask the right questions that will help move the partnership forward.
- Be clear. It really could be as simple as: “Hey, I love your work. I’m just getting my Airbnb off the ground. Would you be interested in a creative exchange: a stay for credited images or a write up?”
- Outline your expectations. Create a mutual agreement for both parties so that it’s clear what each of you is expecting and what you will receive. This should include details such as delivery dates, image rights, tagging, number of images/videos, and file types, etc.
- Make it a win-win. Approach it as a collaboration and work to make sure that the partnership is beneficial to both parties.
Another related tip is to never have empty inventory. If you have any last minute open dates, take advantage of the downtime and use it for your marketing efforts. Invite a local influencer to stay so that you can use the time to generate additional content for your feed.
04. Build a following
Once you’ve established an online presence and gotten a feed full of great images, it’s time to make yourself known. This can be done a number of different ways:
- Be a local online ambassador in your area. Find your relevant online circles and be present in them. So for Tye Haus, we like to keep up with the social media of local businesses and surrounding location tags. We follow a nearby ski resort, for example, and we might answer questions other people leave, or comment and say “Hey, next time you’re in town, come stay with us.”
- Partner with brands to create contests and giveaways. We’ll also run contests and promotions to up our follower count. Think outside the box to find partnerships that fit your “brand”. We’ve partnered with a blanket, a bedding, and a cutlery company to cross-promote our audiences. We’ve reached out to them and said, “Hey, we’re going to get in some influencers to talk about your product, would you be interested in partnering? I can throw in a free stay.” These are also great opportunities to start an email database.
05. Be genuine
As a rule of thumb, people are generally turned off by self-promotion, whether its online or in person—so it’s important to be authentic in all of your interactions. Don’t just comment on every influencer’s post with the same message just to be seen—or start spamming every account you come across. There’s a fine line, and people can sense when you’re coming in with a hard sell. Be genuine in what you’re saying and you’ll attract the right people.
As a personal rule of thumb, I try not to overdo it with the hashtags. We tag a couple of relative feeds in the photo and only include 5-10 hashtags per post. Some people use a whole slew of photo tags and hashtags to get discovered, but I prefer a more subtle, organic approach.
Remember that building a following takes time and certainly doesn’t happen overnight. I encourage you to use these tips, get creative, and you’ll surely find yourself with growing a social media community—and your occupancy rates will thank you.
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Re: How to Host: Making Your Home a Social Media Star
I enjoyed your post, thank you for the great tips! Do you think having Landing in the title is confusing for guests? As in Gib's Landing or Gib's Landing Retreat/House?
Re: How to Host: Making Your Home a Social Media Star
If you have a spare 5 minutes please can you complete my questionnaire if you have ever used the sharing economy (Airbnb, HomeAway, etc) thank you