2017 LiveRez Partner Conference Kicks Off October 8 at the Wigwam Resort and Spa in Phoenix, AZ

The Vacation Rental Software Leader’s Fourth Annual Conference Will Feature New Format and Nearly Twice as Many Classes

Eagle, IDLiveRez.com, the most widely used cloud-based software for professional vacation rental managers, will hold its fourth annual Partner Conference October 8 through October 11 at the Wigwam Resort and Spa in Phoenix, AZ.

LiveRez-Daymond-John-2016

Each year the conference brings together hundreds of professional vacation rental managers from all across the globe – all of whom run their businesses with LiveRez’s cloud-based platform – making the event the largest gathering of industry professionals using the same software.

This year – thanks to a growing number of industry expert instructors and a new format that allows attendees to build their own schedule – event organizers expect to see yet another huge increase in attendance.

“Our goal is to make this the most robust educational offering available anywhere in the vacation rental industry,” said LiveRez CEO Tracy Lotz.

In 2017, the conference will offer nearly twice as many classes as it has in previous years. In addition to in-depth training on the LiveRez software, the conference will also feature classes on business management and customer service, as well as a wider range of marketing sessions. Additionally, many of the classes include options for different skill levels.

The last day of the conference will also include a series of semi-private workshops, so attendees can get hands-on help from expert instructors.

In additional to LiveRez’s in-house software experts, the company has secured some big-name industry professionals to teach classes, including VRMB’s Matt Landau and the co-founders of SmokyMountains.com, David Angotti and Wes Melton, both of whom consulted with Fortune 500 companies before entering the vacation rental space. More special instructors, as well as conference keynotes speakers, will be announced in the coming months.

But it’s not just the classes that are getting upgraded. LiveRez is also expected to showcase a number of new products at its “LiveRez Live” technology showcase, a perennial conference favorite. The conference will feature its regular array of fun activities, like its famous evening parties, but this year the LiveRez family will have even more space to hold events, as the company has rented out the entire 440-acre resort.

“This year’s conference will undoubtedly be the biggest and best event we’ve ever hosted,” Lotz said. “I can’t wait for the LiveRez family to see what we have in store for them this year!”

To learn more about the 2017 LiveRez Partner Conference, visit LiveRez.com/2017Conference.

About LiveRez

LiveRez is the world’s most widely used software platform for marketing and managing vacation rental homes online. The LiveRez solution offers professional property managers all the tools they need to run their business in a single, cloud-based platform. And, the company’s unique “pay-as-you-book” business model creates a mutually beneficial partnership between LiveRez and its vacation rental manager partners. This partnership fuels the company’s mission of continually developing and supporting cutting-edge solutions that empower independent property managers to compete in the rapidly evolving vacation rental space.

What do vacation rental software and college basketball have in common?

Building your vacation rental business is a lot like building a winning team. You need to have the right leadership, recruit the right players, work smartly as a team, and push through adversity.

But, every great team needs a “glue guy” — someone that really brings the team together and helps them become more than the sum of their respective talents.

That’s where we come in. LiveRez is like your point guard. Our software and support services give you the ability to call and execute any play in any situation. And, when one of our assists helps you score, we win together.

More recently, we’ve been the glue behind bringing 1,000+ professional property managers together into a community that facilitates teamwork. Why? Because we know that for independent small businesses to remain competitive through all the changes in our industry, we have to stick together.

Click here to learn more about what makes Team LiveRez fundamentally different.

Learn More About LiveRez

LiveRez is the most widely used software platform for professional vacation rental managers. The company’s cloud-based, end-to-end platform offers fully integrated solutions for reservation and property management, websites with online bookings, trust accounting, CRM, housekeeping and maintenance, reporting, reviews and more. LiveRez is a proud Gold Sponsor of the Vacation Rental Manager’s Association (VRMA).

Visit LiveRez.com to learn more:

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LiveRez Hits the Road for VRM Intel Live! in OBX

Team LiveRez is heading home from an awesome few days at VRM Intel Live! in the Outer Banks of North Carolina.

LiveRez Chief Strategy Officer Steve Trover was a featured speaker at the event. Trover’s presentation focused on the opportunities available for professional managers in 2017 and beyond, and included a live, interactive SWOT analysis specifically geared to the Outer Banks. LiveRez VP of Product Brian Sevy also spoke at the event, talking about the evolution of technology and how to understand when you should adopt it. Word on the street is that both presentations were a big hit!

In addition to a fun few days of meeting with old friends and lots of new ones, our on-the-ground team, which also included Ryan Norton and Brian Riggs, had the opportunity to meet with area managers to better understand their needs and the complexity of running large-scale operations in an isolated, yet incredibly beautiful, part of the United States. What managers in the Outer Banks pull off on a daily basis is pretty incredible.

Here are a few shots VRM Intel got of our team. A big thanks to VRM Intel for another great industry event!

Team LiveRez at VRM Intel Live!

Learn More About LiveRez

LiveRez is the most widely used software platform for professional vacation rental managers. The company’s cloud-based, end-to-end platform offers fully integrated solutions for reservation and property management, websites with online bookings, trust accounting, CRM, housekeeping and maintenance, reporting, reviews and more. LiveRez is a proud Gold Sponsor of the Vacation Rental Manager’s Association (VRMA).

Visit LiveRez.com to learn more:

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LiveRez Road Trip: Visiting Our Partners in the South

Last week multiple members of the LiveRez team went on a vacation rental road trip to visit some of our partners in the southern part of the United States.

The road trip started in Gulf Shores, AL, where we helped a new partner get set up to go live (with hundreds of properties, we figured they might need a hand).

Next, we made some house calls along the coast of Georgia and South Carolina.

Throughout the trip, we were continually amazed by how dedicated our partners were to their guests and owners, and how hard they work to offer both a great experience. And, it was incredibly rewarding when we could give them a tip that made their life easier and helped offer even better service.

Now that we’re back in the office, we’re already missing our friends from the South. But, we look forward to more road trips and seeing more of our partners from across the country.

Here are a few photos from our trip.

Learn More About LiveRez

LiveRez is the most widely used software platform for professional vacation rental managers. The company’s cloud-based, end-to-end platform offers fully integrated solutions for reservation and property management, websites with online bookings, trust accounting, CRM, housekeeping and maintenance, reporting, reviews and more. LiveRez is a proud Gold Sponsor of the Vacation Rental Manager’s Association (VRMA).

Visit LiveRez.com to learn more:

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Developing a Stellar Social Media Strategy – Part Four: Pinterest

Social Media Series: Part Four

There was a wall in my childhood bedroom filled with photos of the exotic destinations I would someday visit, fashion trends I was meaning to try, and the recipes I would (probably never) make. I called it my “inspiration wall”.

Pinterest is the new-and-improved version of my “inspiration wall”. Not only does it store all of those travel and food photos, it organizes them into categories and provides links to the companies behind the image. So rather than pinning up that glossy photo of the Eiffel Tower on my bedroom wall, Pinterest can help me actually plan my dream Paris vacation.

Think Pinterest Isn’t For You? Think Again.

If you think your vacation rental company has no reason to be on Pinterest, you’re missing out on an untapped market of potential guests! Here are three big reasons you should reconsider Pinterest as part of your overall social strategy:

1. Ideal User Demographics

The segment of people using Pinterest aligns well with the typical person who books vacation rentals. Here’s what we know about Pinterest’s demographics1:

  • More than 150 million people a month use Pinterest.
  • Nearly half of online women use Pinterest.
  • 66% of users make more than $50k per year.
  • More than half of users fall in the 30-54 age bracket.
  • Travel is one of the top 10 categories.
2. Get in front of the undecided traveler

Pinterest Examples

One of the unique things about Pinterest is that it puts your brand in front of potential guests very early in their vacation planning process – possibly before they’ve even decided where they want to go. This opportunity to get in front of the undecided traveler gives you the chance turn your city from a place they’ve maybe never heard of to a bucket-list destination.

3. Pin Now, Travel Later

Picture this: You’re scrolling through Pinterest and come across a gorgeous photo of the lush, green Smoky Mountains. You had no idea Tennessee was so gorgeous in the springtime! So, you pin the picture to your “Must Visit Destinations” board and go on your way. Months later, when you go to plan your spring break trip, you scroll through that Pinterest board, remember how excited you were about heading to Tennessee, click the pin and boom! You’re taken to a vacation rental company’s website to start your travel plans.

Unlike other social media channels, Pinterest content sticks around. In fact, 30% of clicks happen 30 days or more from the time something was pinned.

Setting Yourself Up For Success

If (and when) you’re ready to add Pinterest to your social media mix, be sure to keep these tips in mind as you’re setting up your new account.

Pinterest for Business. You’ll want to set up a Pinterest business account. If you already have a personal account you’d like to use, you can easily convert it into a business account. This will give you access to analytics data, advertising and a few other goodies.

PRO TIP: Look even more professional by adding your logo to all of your pins. You’ll just need to confirm your website by adding some code to the head section of your website. (LiveRez partners can email our Support team to make this happen.) This will also improve your ranking in Pinterest’s search results.

Learn the lingo. Pinterest uses some different terminology than other social channels, but you’ll get the hang of it. Brush up on your Pinterest vocab below:

Pinterest Lingo Explained

Understand the Pinterest algorithm. If you want anyone to see your boards and pins, you’ll need to first understand how Pinterest works. Really, it functions like a search engine. And, just like you would for a search engine, you’ll need to use strong keywords if you want to rank at the top of the results. This article does a great job outlining the best way to utilize keywords to rank at the top of the Pinterest results.

Do some recon. Look at what other vacation rental and travel companies are doing. Note what accounts they repin content from, what types of boards they have and what pins are performing best for them (most likes and comments). This will help you understand what types of images your audience is most likely to respond to.

Start creating new boards. Before you start sending people to your Pinterest account, you’ll want to make sure you have compelling content for them to look at when they arrive. Users will give your page just a quick glance before deciding whether to follow you, so make sure you’re featuring boards with great photos and keyword-rich titles! You want to have enough that users find value, but not so many that you can’t fill them properly. We give you some ideas in the next section.

Fill your boards with relevant, eye-catching pins. Your boards are like a blank inspiration wall, just waiting for some captivating images to be pinned to it. Fill them with a mix of pins you create and repins of other’s relevant content. For example, your “San Diego Beaches” board could contain a mix of pins you create that link to your website’s local area guide and pins that you’ve found in the Pinterest world about restaurants in San Diego.

PRO TIP: Vertical pins tend to perform best, as they take up more space in people’s news feeds. It’s best to use an aspect ration of 2:3 (note that pins must be at least 600 pixels wide).

Pinterest Inspo

So, you’re ready to get started? Let’s get a little inspiration from some companies who are killing it on Pinterest. It’s helpful to do a little recon on companies similar to you (note which accounts they repin content from, what types of boards they have and what pins are performing best for them) to better understand what your audience is most likely to respond to.

Check out some of our favorite vacation-focused Pinterest boards:

WandershareTravel Cheat Sheets
Conde Naste TravelerCharleston Black Book
Cannon Beach Vacation RentalsTravel Necessities
Eastern Shore Vacation RentalsMaryland Eats
Travel ChannelEast Coast Beach Crawl
AllEars.netHolidays at Disney
Seaside Vacations, LLCBeachy Crafts
All Star Vacation HomesThemed Rooms
Wallowa Lake Vacation RentalsWeddings in Wallowa Lake
Tybee Vacation RentalsSavannah Activities

Your Feedback

What did you think? Did we miss an important tip? Have you had success using Pinterest to market your properties, and guest and owner services? Let us know in the comments below.      

Learn More About LiveRez

LiveRez is the most widely used software platform for professional vacation rental managers. The company’s cloud-based, end-to-end platform offers fully integrated solutions for reservation and property management, websites with online bookings, trust accounting, CRM, housekeeping and maintenance, reporting, reviews and more. LiveRez is a proud Gold Sponsor of the Vacation Rental Manager’s Association (VRMA).

Visit LiveRez.com to learn more:

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Developing a Stellar Social Media Strategy – Part Three: Twitter

Social Media Strategy - Twitter

In 2015, a Canadian study determined that humans in the “smartphone” era now have shorter attention spans than goldfish. That’s right, nowadays you get only eight seconds with the average person before they get distracted.

goldfish

Maybe that’s why Twitter is so popular. The speed limit on Twitter is 140 characters. It’s the sports car of social media platforms, and is used by everyone from celebrities to internet trolls to some of the world’s foremost thought leaders (but probably not goldfish; they lack the thumbs for tweeting).   

How much is 140 characters? Not much. So, if you want to master Twitter, you’re going to have to learn to spit out those Tweets (and keep ‘em brief).

In this post, we’ll show you how to master Twitter and leverage it to promote your vacation rental properties.

If you’re a goldfish, high school teenager or busy executive, you can just read the Tweet-sized summaries at the top of each section (i.e. the TL;DR route).

If you’re a bookworm, speed reader or straight up old school homie, you can read the detailed version; it’s approximately 79 tweets long.

Ready to get Twitterpated? Let’s get started. 

twitterpated

Setting up Twitter

“The first step to be successful on Twitter is setting up a Twitter profile.” – via Captain Obvious.

Creating a Twitter profile is pretty simple. Just set up an account, enter in your business info and upload a profile and header photo. We could go through all the steps here, but we think this video does a pretty great job of explaining it:

How Twitter Works

140 characters or less. Tag others with @. Use # to tag topics (and to be clever). Shorten those links. #HowTwitterWorks

There are a few things you’ll need to know about how Twitter works before you start sending tweets out into the Twittersphere.

  • It all starts with your tweets, which need to be 140 characters or less. This means you’ll need to be pretty creative in how you craft your message. Try to get rid of unnecessary pronouns, find shorter synonyms or use abbreviations.
  • Want to tag one of your followers in a post? Use the @ symbol followed by their username.
  • Help other users find your tweets by using hashtags. They’re sort of like labels for your tweets. You can use existing hashtags to join a conversation. Often, events, products or even whole cities will have official hashtags you can use to talk about them (i.e. PartnerConference2017). But, don’t let that hold you back. Creating your own hashtag is a fun way to punctuate your tweets. #WroteThisMyself
  • URLs can be long, and they take up precious characters in your tweet. Never fear! We have a solution for you. Link shortening tools like bit.ly,  goo.gl and Ow.ly will take your super long URL and turn it into a short link that’s just a handful of characters. Most of these tools also have tracking abilities so you can monitor the number of people clicking your fancy shortened link.

Growing Your Following

Follow other people (they follow back), 2. Use hashtags, 3. Interact with others, 4. Advertise #GrowYourFlock

What good are those perfectly crafted tweets if no one sees them? Start building your Twitter following by using these four tried and true methods:

  1. Follow other users. In the Twitter world, it’s pretty common for people to follow you back. Consider following users who interact with your posts, accounts you admire, industry thought leaders, potential customers, competitors, or followers of your competitors. The sky’s the limit.
  2. Using hashtags will help you get your tweets in front of users who may not follow you. Not sure which hashtag to use? There’s a few ways to figure out which one(s) fit best. Check out the trending topics and hashtags on your Twitter dashboard and determine if you can contribute to one of those conversations. You can also use a tool like Hashtagify to search for hashtags trending in your industry.
  3. Be a part of the conversation by interacting with other users. Consider thanking anyone who shares your content, responding to questions people tweet about, or retweeting great content you come across that might fit into your Twitter strategy. Creating connections with other people on Twitter makes it more likely that they’ll follow you and could, in turn, start interacting with your tweets, as well.
  4. Advertise right within Twitter to help grow your following and increase engagement. Like many other online advertising platforms, Twitter allows you to target custom audiences to ensure you’re getting the most qualified new traffic. Learn more on Twitter’s business page.

Twitter Strategery

Establish a schedule. Track. Reuse your best tweets. Leverage hashtags and automation. #TwitterStrategy

So, we’ve started building your audience. Now it’s time to get your message out to the right people and leverage the power of Twitter to amplify it.

The Speed of Social Networks

One of the most important things to understand about Twitter is that it’s a super fast moving network. Think about online marketing as a journey. You’re in your car and you’re driving. As you continue down the road, you see a bunch of billboards on the side of the road. Some of them catch your attention; other don’t. But, a big factor in which signs catch your attention (and which of those messages you remember) is the speed of the car.

Social networks like Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn and Google+ move at a slower pace. Imagine the car is going like 20 miles per hour and the signs are bigger and farther apart. That’s these networks in a nutshell.

With Twitter, imagine the car is going about 65 miles per hour. The signs are smaller and you have less time to read them. Needless to say, you’re going to miss a lot of the signs and remember less of the messages. So to be successful, you need to amplify the reach and frequency of your messages.

So, while posting once a day (or maybe even 3-5 times a week) is enough on the slower networks, you need to be posting on Twitter multiple times a day. You also need the help of other Twitter users to amplify your message, in the form of retweets, mentions and likes.

But, unless you’re getting out and about (and doing a bunch of interesting things), you probably won’t have the time or the content to post on Twitter multiple times a day.

So how do you get around that? Automation.

Twitter Automation and Tracking  

There are tons of great tools for automating and tracking your social media efforts (and we’re going to be talking about them in an upcoming post in this series). But today we’re going to narrow it down to just our favorite Twitter management tool here at LiveRez, and that’s Buffer.

Buffer is a free tool (with great paid versions) that allows you to queue up and schedule tweets and other social media messages, as well as track the engagement level of those posts. The two big benefits of Buffer are that it can save you time and improve your performance.

With that said, here are a few steps for leveraging Buffer:

  • Create multiple versions of your tweets. These are tweets all on the same topic or sharing the same piece of content. You just need to write multiple variations of them. Change up the wording. Change up the images. Change up the hashtags.
  • Schedule all the different versions of these tweets, and schedule each multiple times. You’ll want to do this for a wide range of tweets, too. This will give you a huge bank of tweets to draw from.
  • Put all these tweets in your Buffer queue. One of the great things about Buffer is you can set up how many times you want to post a day, at which times (Buffer can even pick the best times for you), and then you can just add a huge list of tweets to your bank and Buffer will post them in order, at the pre-determined times. When you’re scheduling multiple posts, this makes life so much easier. Imagine if you had to go and manually set a scheduled time for each post?
  • See what performs and use it again. Buffer will keep track of all the engagement on your posts. You’ll see potential reach, likes, retweets and clicks. You’ll easily be able to identify which versions of which tweets are getting more engagement than others. Now, all you have to do is pick the winners and re-buffer them (you can do that right from the Buffer analytics interface). Now you have a data-driven way to increase your engagement. And, as an added bonus, when you’re armed with this data, you can use Twitter as a testing ground to forecast what content will perform well on some of the slower networks (like Facebook), where you don’t have as many opportunities to post and are limited algorithmically by how frequently you can repost the same content.  
Pro Tip: IFTTT

Advanced users might want to look into a program called IFTT (IF Then Then That). This service hooks in with a number of other online services and lets you automate actions based on conditions (it’s a lot like the email automation and trust accounting automation we have set up in LiveRez).  

IFTTT let’s you create recipes. Here are a two related to Twitter you might want to check out.

1. If you post something to your Facebook page, then post the same thing to Twitter (appended with a link back to the Facebook post). This is a great time saver and the link back to Facebook can help you cross promote your Facebook page.

2. If you publish a new WordPress blog, then post it to your Twitter account. Another great time saver. Just make sure your blog post is really ready before you hit publish.

One of the primary reasons to use Twitter is to promote your content. So, it’s important to have a schedule for promoting that content. With Twitter, a great formula is:

  • Post about your content as soon as it is published.
  • Post about it again later that day.
  • Post about it the following day.
  • Post about once more later in the week.
  • And, then (if the content is more evergreen than time sensitive), you can run it through the Buffer strategy we outline earlier in this section.

A big part of making this strategy work well and take off quicker is understanding what types of tweets perform well. That way you aren’t starting from scratch and learning the hard way.

Content That Performs

To get a head start of writing successful tweets, let’s take a look at a study conducted by Buffer on what elements of posts add to engagement. Here’s what they discovered:

  • Using photos increases retweets by 35%
  • Using videos gives you a 28% boost
  • Using quotes yields a 19% boost
  • Including a number gives you a 17% increase
  • And leveraging hashtags, gives you a 16% boost.

This is some powerful information to have in your back pocket when you are starting to compose different variations of your tweets. But, just remember, the real proof is in the pudding. Make sure you are engaged in a constant process of testing, tracking and refining. That’s the secret sauce that separates top-tier marketers from low-level noise makers.

Your Feedback

What did you think? Did we miss an important tip? Have you had success using Twitter to market your properties, and guest and owner services? Let us know in the comments below.      

Learn More About LiveRez

LiveRez is the most widely used software platform for professional vacation rental managers. The company’s cloud-based, end-to-end platform offers fully integrated solutions for reservation and property management, websites with online bookings, trust accounting, CRM, housekeeping and maintenance, reporting, reviews and more. LiveRez is a proud Gold Sponsor of the Vacation Rental Manager’s Association (VRMA).

Visit LiveRez.com to learn more:

Did you like this post?

Please consider “liking” it and sharing it on your social media channels via the buttons below. You can also follow us and get notifications of all new posts via the “Follow” button Follow Us in the bottom right-hand part of the screen.

Developing a Stellar Social Media Strategy – Part Two: Instagram

Social Media Series - Instagram

Instagram is much more than just that app your daughter uses to post artsy pictures of her dinner. It can actually be a super powerful tool for your business! And with 600 million users and counting, the opportunity to get in front of its audience can’t be ignored. That’s why we picked it as the second featured social media platform in our Stellar Social Media blog series! Miss part one about Facebook? Check it out here.  

First Things First

First and foremost, you’ll need to set up an Instagram for Business account. It’s pretty easy! Just download the app to your smartphone and while setting up your profile, consider these four things:

Instagram Account Examples

  1. Account name: Your account name will typically be your brand name. If that’s unavailable, play around with adding additional keywords like “rentals” or “vacations”. Remember, this account name will appear above all your photos, so make sure it’s quickly recognizable, professional, and easy to understand.
  1. Profile photo: This photo will display in a tiny circle (only about 150 pixels) next to your account name on all your posts. Use your logo if it fits, or consider using another graphic that represents your brand.
  1. Bio: In your bio section, be sure to add your website and a quick blurb about your company that’s both engaging and informative. Remember, Instagram is pretty informal, so this is a great place to show your brand’s personality!
  1. Connect other social accounts: Instagram allows you to connect your other social media accounts, like Facebook and Twitter. If you already have those channels set up, go ahead and link them up. This doesn’t mean all of your Instagram photos will automatically post to those accounts, but it gives you the opportunity to quickly post on multiple platforms and take advantage of the cross-promotion on a post-by-post basis when it makes sense.  

Creating Content for Instagram

Instagram is a bit of a different beast than other social media platforms in that it relies almost completely on visual content and there are no clickable links in posts. However, armed with a good cell phone camera, a bit of creativity, and the knowledge you’ll gain from this blog post, you’ll be on your way to becoming an Instagram master.

Need some inspiration to get started? Here are our favorite ways to generate Instagram content:

Post eye-catching photos. Dive into the library of photos from your website, blog, or Facebook page, or snap a new one right from the Instagram app. Choose photos that are high-quality, have interesting content, and stand out against the millions of photos posted each month.

Become a resource for your area. Travelers are increasingly using Instagram as a resource for vacation planning. While posting property photos or videos is a great way to share the story of your company, consider broadening your content to also include tips about traveling in your town or features of your favorite landmarks.

Utilize your blog. If you have existing blog posts that guests love, consider taking a quote or image from those posts and repurposing them for your Instagram audience.

Put a face to the brand. Guests love getting to know who they’re renting from. Share behind-the-scenes photos of your team, photos of your family travels… anything that gives an inside look at the people behind your brand.

 

Highlight your properties. Give your followers a taste of your inventory by sharing property photos. The best part? You probably already have a great bank of property photos to choose from! When deciding which photos to feature, consider what your target audience would like to see. For example, if you’re hoping to appeal to families, feature kid-friendly amenities like bunk beds and a pool. Or, target couples by featuring a cozy fireplace.

Post fun quotes. Use an online tool like Canva to turn funny, relevant quotes (or even guest reviews) into beautiful, shareable graphics.

2017 🌏

A post shared by Travel Backpacks & Essentials (@wanderfactory.shop) on

 

Test out videos. Instagram videos are super easy to produce – just shoot them right there within the app! When your followers come across a video in their feed, it automatically starts playing, likely capturing their attention more than a standard photo. This is a great way to highlight properties, employees, cool events in the area, and whatever else your imagination can dream up!

Build connections by reposting other people’s content. Explore Instagram accounts that feature unique posts about your town and consider reaching out to them to see if you can share their photos on your feed. Not only does this help you build connections with users in your area, but also adds to the variety of your posts. And who knows, they may be willing to share one of your photos in return! You could also consider reaching out to past guests to see if you can share photos they took during their stay; just be sure to tag them in your post. Currently, there’s no way to re-post other users’ photos within the app, but third-party tools like Regram can help you make it happen.

Experiment with filters. Instagram filters can take your phone camera photos and turn them into professional-looking pieces of art! If you find one you love, consider making it your signature filter and using it on any photos that makes sense.

Increase engagement with #hashtags

Unlike other social media channels, the only way to search for posts on Instagram is by using hashtags. (For example, I’d have to search for #laketahoe rather than “Lake Tahoe”.) So, to get your posts in front of more users, you’ll definitely want to start using hashtags. The trick is to use the right ones! Unfortunately, it won’t do you much good to make up your own. Your best bet is to use hashtags that are already popular, helping you get the best visibility  on your posts. A tool like Websta can help you discover top trending hashtags in your category.

Hashtags

It’s not unusual to have as many as ten hashtags in an Instagram post. In fact, it’s been shown that there is a positive correlation between the number of hashtags you use and the number of likes you receive. Testing out a variety of hashtags to see which ones help your posts perform better will build you an arsenal of hashtags to strategically use in future posts.

Build your following

In addition to using the right hashtags, there are a few other strategies you can use to increase your Instagram following.

  1. Target your competitor’s followers. These users are likely already interested in vacation rentals in your area, so they’ll be a great audience to get in front of. At the top of your competitors’ Instagram profiles, click the “# followers” link to see who is following their account. From there, you can choose to follow anyone on that list. When you follow them, they’ll receive a notification from you and can follow you back. And with all that great content on your page…who wouldn’t? Increase the chances of them following you back by liking or commenting on their photos.
  1. Connect with influencers in your area. Use hashtags to search for Instagram users in your area that have a lot of followers. Instagram is unique in that it’s not always the big name companies that have the biggest accounts. While your local tourism group may be a great account to connect with, there may also be a local person who posts about the town and has a strong following. It’s fun to dig around and see who you can find!
  1. Share your Instagram photos on other channels. Instagram makes it easy to share any of your posts to your other connected social media channels. When your Instagram photos pop up on your other social channels, not only does it allow users to like and comment on the posts, but it also alerts them to the fact that you have an Instagram account that they may want to follow.
  1. Add a link to Instagram on your website. You likely already have links to your other social media accounts on your website, so be sure to add your Instagram account!
  1. Tag your location. Any time you post on Instagram, you can add a location. Before people travel to your destination, they may search Instagram for cool pictures of that area to help them plan. If you add your city or neighborhood, people are more likely to see your photos when they’re searching for that area.  

Instagram Stories

The newest Instagram feature, Instagram Stories allows you to post a collection of photos and videos that tell a story in real time. They don’t appear in your regular collection of photos, but instead show at the top of your followers feeds and play in succession. After 24 hours, anything you’ve posted to your story disappears.

Consider using this feature to highlight local events, current rental specials, events around your office, or other timely happenings. Once you’ve snapped your photo or video, use Instagram’s editing tools to add text, tag other users, or swipe to add filters. You can also swipe right within the Stories feature to post a live video. Your followers will get an alert and can watch your video in real time.

Instagram advertising

Outside of posting awesome content that your followers can find organically, Instagram’s advertising platform offers a paid way to get in front of a targeted audience. They are also the only posts on Instagram that allow for a call-to-action button, so people can be taken directly from your ad to your website – all within the Instagram platform.

There are two different ways you can pay to get in front of users. Either create an ad from scratch within Facebook’s Business Manager (Facebook owns Instagram so they share some functionality) or promote an existing post right from your Instagram app.

Option one: Instagram ad

This option allows you to advertise a custom photo or video specifically to the audience you choose. This is a good option for promoting content that you don’t want to appear on your regular Instagram profile (like custom targeted specials or content created for a super-targeted audience). Here’s how:

  1. You’ll first need to set up a Business Manager account within Facebook. You can then add your Instagram account by going to “Business Manager Settings” and clicking the Instagram icon from the left-hand menu.
  1. Once you have everything linked up, go to the Ad Creation section and follow the prompts to create your ad. (Note: When selecting your objective, only the following categories work for Instagram advertising: Brand awareness, Reach, Traffic, App installs, Engagement, Video views and Conversions. So be sure to choose one of those as your objective.)
  1. Next, you’ll select your audience by choosing from a variety of targeting options. And then you’ll select your budget and set the ad schedule in the “Budget and Schedule” section. This awesome video from Hootsuite will guide you in selecting your target audience.
  1. Once you have all your ad parameters set, upload the image(s) you’d like to use and set your caption. We recommend an image size of 1080 x 1080 pixels and a caption of no more than 125 characters. Be sure to fill in all the ad details – including headline, text, call to action and any advanced features you’re taking advantage of.
  1. Next, make sure that your placement selections are set up the way you’d like. If this is just an Instagram ad campaign, you’ll want to make sure the other placements have been removed.
  1. Once the ad looks the way you want it to (and you’ve triple-checked it!), place the order to send your ad out into the Instagram universe!
  1. Your ad results display in your Ads Manager. This helpful FAQ will help you understand those results and make any necessary adjustments to your campaign.

Option two: Promoted post

If you have a photo or video that’s performing really well, you can easily turn it into a promoted post right within the app.

  1. From your profile, select the Insights graph icon at the top of the page. Scroll to the bottom and tap “Create a new promotion”.
  1. Choose the photo or video you want to promote, and then follow the prompts on the next screen to set up your promotion. You can choose your call to action, create a custom targeted audience based on demographic, and set your budget and ad schedule.
  1. It’s as easy as that! Keep track of your promotion’s success in your Insights.

Instagram Insights

Instagram Insights gives you an inside look into your followers’ demographics and behaviors and provides information on which of your posts have performed best – information that you can use to help you craft more targeted content.

Tap the graph icon at the top of your Instagram profile to access your Insights. Be sure to check out these helpful sections:

Top posts: Take a look at your top posts to see what your followers most respond to. By tapping just above the posts, you can filter the results to see even more data. Keep an eye on this section to help guide your strategy. If your followers prefer video over photo, consider mixing in more video content. If they tend to engage more with fun behind-the-scenes photos of your team, you can look at posting more often about your company culture.  

Followers: Click “See More” in the Followers section to open a page chock-full of data about your followers. Then, as you craft your posts, keep in mind your followers’ gender, age, and location information to help you better target that group. When it comes time to share that content, take a look at the last graph to figure out which days and hours your followers are most often on Instagram and use that to determine the best time to share that content. 

Final thoughts

Social Media Series - Instagram

So, what are you waiting for? Get ‘gramming! Experiment with some of the strategies above, find your niche and build your following.

Stay tuned for the next installment in our Stellar Social Media Strategy series: the massive world of Twitter.

Your Feedback

What did you think? Did we miss an important tip? Have you had success using Facebook to market your business? Let us know in the comments below.

Learn More About LiveRez

LiveRez is the most widely used software platform for professional vacation rental managers. The company’s cloud-based, end-to-end platform offers fully integrated solutions for reservation and property management, websites with online bookings, trust accounting, CRM, housekeeping and maintenance, reporting, reviews and more. LiveRez is a proud Gold Sponsor of the Vacation Rental Manager’s Association (VRMA).

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