While I’ve covered Facebook Ads a few times on this blog and a few others too, we’ve never talked too much about Facebook’s organic reach. It’s true that over time, Facebook does seem to bias their algorithm towards showing fewer and fewer Business Page posts. However, organic reach is far from gone. Today, vacation rental managers, hotels and B&B owners are still getting tens of thousands of post reach impressions with the right content and timing on their posts. Here are tips on how you can get started with gaining more engagement on your posts and boost your social visibility on Facebook.
Starting With A Solid Base Of Page Fans
Getting a lot of reach on Facebook starts with at least have a marketable base of fans or page likes. If your page has 10 likes, even 100% organic reach is going to prove difficult to gain viral reach and post impressions. Typically, you’ll want to get started by maximizing the likes you can get for free.
To help seed your Facebook page with more likes (we’re hoping to start with at least 300-500 fans), try the following tactics.
- Invite past guests to your like your page by sending a newsletter-style email to them.
- Invite your staff and contractors to like your page via the invite to page tool.
- Link to your Facebook page from your website.
- Add a Facebook Like Widget in strategic places on your website (thank you pages work very well).
- Encourage your newsletter email list to like you on Facebook with callouts near the bottom.
- Do mini-giveaways like beach towels or ski lift passes to boost your likes quickly with a low cost.
If you want to get more advanced with Facebook Ads to help build your Likes, growing your fan base is fairly straightforward. You can target your email list with a Custom Audience and promote your page to those who have stayed or inquired about a stay but have not yet liked your page. Additionally, you can target website visitors as well with Facebook Ads and promote your page to them in the form of a Like page ad. While these options aren’t free, they typically result in a low cost per like (anywhere from 5 cents to $1 depending on your audience) and can boost your page into the 100-500 like range fairly quickly with even a modest $100 investment.
Once you have a solid base of fans that are relevant, you can start to try to get them more engaged. Engaged fans are the best ones to have — large pages without engagement signal to Facebook that your page fans don’t want to see your content. It’s actually common that pages with fewer fans out-perform larger fan pages on Facebook if they have a page fans that like, comment and share posts more frequently. I have seen Facebook pages with 2,500 likes get more reach than pages with 25,000 likes on a regular basis. Don’t just assume that more likes equals a better Facebook page or more reach on posts over time.
The Golden Rule Of Facebook Posting: 80/20
I’m sure you’ve heard the rule of 80/20 as it applies to your business efforts: often 80% of your results comes from 20% of your efforts.
We’re tweaking the 80/20 rule just a bit today to cook up the right Facebook organic posting strategy to see success.
Up to 80% of your Facebook posts should only be engagement-based posts, with 20% or less of your posts being sales-oriented posts and links.
Anything else and you’ll typically see a decline in reach as you are too “salesy” on Facebook. This is the number once mistake that I see accommodations companies make on Facebook: all about them, nothing that a guest wants to engage with. If your posts are nothing but “up for rent, 10% discount”, your organic reach will plummet and getting the posts to perform well again organically again will be an uphill battle.
Copy Rules Of Engagement
Your post copy makes a big difference to your success. While other platforms on the web like Google like to see long content and copy, Facebook is often just the opposite. No hard-and-fast rule exists for the exact number of words to include in a post, but shorter posts with enticing copy actually perform better overall compared to long-drawn out posts.
Of course, with any of the tactics here, every audience is a bit different. I’ve seen pages where long form posts work well (typically stories) as almost “blog-post-like” style posts. However, those types of posts working well in the travel space doesn’t seem nearly as common as other verticals.
Beautiful Images Make All The Difference
I’ll be honest: your copy can be sub-par with a great photo and your post will still perform well (although great copy with a great photo will always do the best). Scrolling through the News Feed on Facebook, we’re trained to look for eye-catching photography. If you’re in a beach destinaion, a beautiful wide shot of a sunny beach will perform better overall than most other post types. Ski destination? You’ll be better off with large mountain photos with fresh snow than almost every link post you can think of.
Finding photos of your destination and keeping them fresh over time can prove to be difficult. I reccomend contacting a local photographer to see if they can provide images to you for use on your Facebook page in exchange for a modest fee or in exchange for photo credit and a link to their Facebook page. Many “up and coming” photographers would love to see their photos get 100, 500 or more Likes on Facebook and would be willing to share some of their shots in exchange for credit. More established photographers will probably be less likely to work on credit alone.
Sourcing photos can also be on sites like Flickr, Think Stock Photos and Getty Images. When using Flickr, make sure to filter by photos that allow for reuse. Many Flickr users allow for you to use their photos with credit when sharing their photo on Facebook. If you’re strapped for time, it’s easy to use this search with the name of your destination to find new photos quickly.
The Perfect Time To Post Links
Let’s be honest: we need to sometimes promote our rentals on Facebook! This is best done with link posts sending our guests using Facebook back to our website. Today, more than ever, it seems that Facebook is curbing the reach of pages that post too many link posts. As a result, you should be sure to mix up when you use link posts and make sure the timing of your posts matches when your guests are on Facebook and more likely to click.
When posting a link to Facebook, you’ll want to make sure that the post is formatted for success. Many pages make the mistake of posting links without any regard for the formatting, image or description and miss out on valuable clicks from their potential guests.
Keep in mind that your potential guests are on Facebook to stay on Facebook — you’ll need to catch their attention to encourage them to leave their Facebook feed and go to your website.
Customize The Description To Increase Clicks
Perhaps the most common mistake among business pages on Facebook is the lack of care taken around the design and formatting of the link itself. With just a few clicks, you can customize your photo, link title and description to make your post more relevant and attractive.
Hide The Link When Writing Your Post
Making your post eye-catching means using a friendly link to share with guests. If you have “ugly” URLs filled with tracking tags and query strings, guests aren’t as likely to click on your website link and leave Facebook. Whenever a post is being composed on web, you can optionally delete the link once Facebook has imported the image, description and final page URL.
Use Eye Catching Copy Or Emoji
The majority of Facebook posts are a little stale: spice things up with short, punchy copy and utilize emojis where they make sense. Posting a beautiful photo of a sunset will get a little more attention if you have a ☀️ emoji in the post copy. Trying to drive phone calls (?) is easier when the icons and emojis match the call-to-action on the post.
Follow Up High-Performing Organic Posts With Links
A favorite strategy of mine to help boost link clicks on organic Facebook posts is the “Pilot Fish Technique”. For those that don’t know, pilot fish are the ones that follow sharks around during feeding times. Your posts can work in the same fashion. Keep track of your average post reach on engagement-focused posts. When you have one that performs very well, follow it up with a promotional post to your page. The second post (often posted the next day) will get a higher-than-normal reach as a higher percentage of your page fans saw the viral post the previous day. After this, resume your 80/20 posting style as discussed above.
Posting Refinements To Test On Your Page
Improving engagement on Facebook may seem like a tall task, but I can assure it’s an area where any vacation rental manager can succeed. There are lots of examples of Facebook Pages performing very well despite smaller marketing budgets and a limited scope posting styles. Finding what works well in your destination and replicating it over time can be a winning strategy to help you get more traffic to your website from Facebook for free. Here are a few final quick-hit tips that you can use to help improve engagement even more with your vacation rental Facebook marketing strategy.
Respond To Every Comment & Review — I’m going to defer to social media expert Gary Vaynerchuk for an excellent explainer here: if you had a guest look you in your eye and tell you they had a great stay, what would you say? Surely you wouldn’t stand there with a blank look on your face, right? Yet that’s what happens everyday on social media across so many vacation rental pages. If a guest is commenting on your photos, liking them and engaging, they’re asking for attention! Don’t neglect guests reaching out to you: build loyalty with your fans by engaging and being a human behind the company. A simple short comment is worth the time to take and respond to each guest or potential guest.
Follow Up On Messages Quickly — Facebook is now using badges to indicate when Business Pages respond to messages quickly: it is a sign of a quality page is when you reply to incoming messages quickly. Setup alerts so you can make sure that no guest goes without an answer.
Show Off Your Staff — Another winning tactic that works well is to humanize your company with staff photos. Guests deal with a person when they stay in a rental: why not show the people in your company that make it all happen?
Sharing Is Friendly — Making “friends” on social media works on Business Pages, too! If you share content from other pages in your destination, they’re likely to share your posts sometimes too, netting you new fans without spending a dime.
Invite Likes On Posts To Your Page — A little-known feature, you can easily invite people who Like any of your photos or posts to Like your page. It’s a free way to grow your page fans with guests or potential guests that are interacting with your content.
Thanks to Grand Strand Resorts for screenshots.