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
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:
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:
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:
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:
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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Awesome article, Tom! This is helpful as a newer airbnb host. Do you have separate insta accounts for each house, or are they similar enough in location, style and design/decor that you promote all of them on one account? We have a 2bed/2bath (sleeps 8) vacation rental townhome in Old Town Scottsdale, and we're just launching a 5 bedroom/3 bath (sleeps 12) vacation home with a private pool, putting green, games etc. They're only about a mile apart, and have similar SW/desert decor but they offer different experiences with the amenities. What are your thoughts? Appreciate your time in advance!
Ooooh, good question. If it were me, I'd personally create a brand and run your properties under a single branded social media handle. Had I been able to predict the traction we would receive from our first property, Tye Haus, I'd have come up with a brand sooner and thus used that handle. Luckily, tyehaus came sort of a brand on its own so we named our company Tye River Cabin Co once we added the 2 additional properties. So, it's all still cohesive. Save yourself the trouble in the beginning and figure out your brand and go from there ;-)
I have been with Airbnb for 5 years and never once thought about branding, using influencers etc. How do I brand my rental? Our name is Location, Location, Ocean! We only have one unit we rent out. It's part of our home as an ADU (Additional dwelling unit) but I want to start hosting a handful of other Airbnbs in my neighborhood for those who can't be here to do the cleaning, checking in and checking out. Maybe create my own website for those that I will be hosting. What do you think about that angle? And any ideas on the branding of Location, Location, Ocean... We live in Oceanside California and we are literally walking distance to everything including the beach. I am super new to the whole instagram thing and am afraid that technology is too quick for me. I can't seem to keep up. Any other tips?
Hi Crystal. it sounds like an exciting venture! I live in Laguna, just up the way from you and am a social media manager for vaca rentals. Just as Tom offered, begin with gorgeous lifestyle shots - if you can hire a professional photographer, it will make a huge difference. Best of luck to you! ~Arias
I agree with Tom about branding under one name. We started with one cabin under our brand name of "Wellnesste" and using cashflow from our rental have grown to 6 cabins all under the same brand. Our online presence for our website, insta, fb, pinterest (where we get a lot of free exposure which is under rated), twitter, linked in and youtube are all under our Wellnesste brand. This also helps long-term in google search results so that you can get more and more bookings not only via airbnb, but other channels as well if you choose to go that route and build a full-time income around your rental(s). Best of luck :-)
We have two that are 2,700 miles apart - only liked by the fact that I designed and own them. I think for some owners, having one social media account for each makes more sense. If you're trying to show people the area, things to do, and create a general mood in your feed then it's going to be pretty different for Kauai vacation than one in Seattle.