If you’ve been thinking of using Instagram to market your vacation rental, or if you have an account now and need help growing your following, try these tips to create a following of folks who know, like, trust and can’t wait to visit or share your vacation rental with their friends!
Obviously, you want people to follow you, but, just like with Facebook, you want ENGAGED followers who care about you, your destination, and your brand. In a nutshell, any interaction by your followers with your posts is considered as engagement, whether it is in the form of likes, comments, or saves.
Engagement takes time, but if you are thoughtful about the content you share, genuine in the way you interact with your followers, and reach out to people who like, comment, and follow you, you will have a steady growth of people who are actually interested in you, inspired by your photos, and will share and book.
Engagement Tip # 1: Follow, Follow, Follow
Follow other local businesses, city tourism offices, restaurants, tourist attractions, etc., and mention them in your posts. It will take time, but they will reciprocate. DM and ask them to repost your content (be sure and do this after you have shared theirs).
Comment and share photos from people who are traveling in your area and tag them! Feature travelers in your photos and they will:
- Share your account because they were featured
- Follow you and share your posts with their friends
Real people are awesome. Travel bloggers are great too. Always follow your guests.
Beware, there are lots of spammy Instagrammers out there who will follow you for the follow back, then leave you in the dust. Don’t fall for it and don’t do it to anyone else.
Remember, it is NEVER about the number of followers you have, but about engaged followers – the people who like, comment, share, and respond.
Engagement Tip 2: Use The Right Hashtags
Hashtags are our friends. Too many hashtags make us look crazy.
Hashtags are used by others to follow trends or interests and to find new accounts. Many people only follow particular hashtags rather than actual people.
Use 10-15 relevant hashtags.
Remember, the purpose of the hashtag is for others to find you when your photo is added to a hashtag stream.
Check out the hashtag stream for #beach. See how there are top posts (most popular) and recent posts (most recent). When you are in the Instagram app on your phone you can follow a hashtag so it will show up in your feed.
A great image with a good selection of hashtags can build your following when people visit your profile and decide to “subscribe” to your awesome “magazine” (check back to the steps above about creating a great profile).
A few more tips for using hashtags:
- Be sure and do your hashtag research and use the hashtags that matter to your audience and destination.
- Always use the hashtags that are relevant to your destination. #SanAntonio #SanAntonioTX #Riverwalk #coloradovacation #skivacation #skiseason #DisneyVacation
- Use hashtags relevant to your audience #familyfun #romanticgetaway #travelfamily #beachfamily #womentraveler #adventuretraveler
- Use vacation rental specific hashtags #texasairbnb (even if you aren’t on Airbnb it is now a generic term for a vacation home), #coloradocabin, #neworleansvacationhome
- Use a mix of extremely popular hashtags and less popular hashtags. As you start adding hashtags you will see how many images are posted to it. You are more likely to show up in the feeds with lower posts (1500 – 5000 range is great.)
- Be sure and use hashtags wisely. Too many hashtags at the end of your post can look spammy and even silly.
Engagement Tip # 3: Authenticity wins!
Once you have been on Instagram a while you’ll start to recognize the people who only care about sales. Their images are boring and the same thing over and over and over again. They always include a link to purchase. Looking at their photostream shows you that they post 5-10 images a day (note, these are all things that will turn your followers off and result in little to no engagement).
Imagine the guy at the bar (or gal) who JUST. WON’T. STOP hitting on you. Or the car salesman that calls you every week or the door to door salesman who knocks on the door every time he sees your car home. GROSS.
Your followers will expect sales messages, but they want more than that and they will get turned off quickly.
The rule of thumb for Instagram marketing is to give, give, give, give, ask. (this is true of Facebook as well) some marketers call this the 80/20 rule.
Give Posts Include:
- Inspiring images, videos, and stories of a local place – share a video or image of someone diving off a cliff, dancing at the bar, catching a fish, hiking, or in front of a roaring fire.
- Tips for travelers – share a local restaurant’s photo or better yet, take a photo of your favorite dish and tag them, then tell your future guests why it’s your favorite.
- Share events – create an image in Canva or create an Instagram “text” story to provide details and dates of an upcoming event (remember to use far in the future events if most of your guests travel a great distance).
- Personalized recommendations for different audiences – use a series of photos and caption them as Things To Do for a Romantic Trip to New York, for example. Even though this is a “give” type post, you can include a photo of your rental in the carousel. Make this a longer post with details of the photos. (This would be a great post to promote, but more about advertising later).
- Inspirational travel quotes.
Ask Posts Include:
- Share behind the scenes of your vacation rental – take photos of great comments from your guest book and mention how much you love creating a great spot for people to enjoy. Ask for the booking.
- Add a photo of your rental’s most popular amenities. Have a fire pit in your backyard? Build a fire, sit around it, and take a video of yourselves roasting marshmallows. Then, ask for the booking. “Share s’mores with the kids this fall, book a weekend in the hill country.”
- Use a text “Instagram Story” and remind your future guests about last minute specials, off-season rates, or other perks. Ask for the booking or ask them to reply to get on your e-mail list.
- Show how much you care about your guests with photos of the bottle of wine and cheese tray you leave in the fridge, the collection of board games, the kayak you leave outback, or the Christmas tree you put up each holiday season. Ask for a recommendation – “what’s your favorite family game?”
When you look through the @silversandsvacationrentals photostream you will see that a number of posts include shots from inside their rentals, while others are things to do, fun quotes, and beautiful inspiring images. Their feed is so good, they rarely ask for the booking – they know they are inspiring their followers to book with them. They show how much they enjoy providing great, authentic content.
Engagement Tip # 4: Ask For Engagement
In your image captions be sure and invite your followers to give you input or reply. This encourages authentic engagement.
- “Double-tap (like) if this is on your bucket list”
“Tag your friends who love to hike”
“Send me a DM and I’ll share the event details”
- “What kind of wine do you prefer?”
- “What is your idea of a romantic getaway?”
Building an Instagram for your vacation rental business is easy; building an account that grows and can book your rental can be tough, but, use the tips above to build a network of people who care about you and want to do business with you!
Learn Instagram From Me!
Don’t let yourself get overwhelmed – everything here is available in my new program – Insta-Booked! An Instagram marketing course specifically designed for vacation rental owners. With walkthrough lessons screen shared from my phone, workbooks, and more!