I am often amazed at how haphazard some vacation rental businesses can be about their social media.
They readily hand over the reigns of their most prominent communication channel to the most junior member of staff (sometimes even the intern), or outsource it to a specialist agency with little or no brief, company guidelines or strategy.
An organisation’s social media channels are, arguably, their most important communication opportunity. It is the channel where everyone is listening to you.
Perhaps they are not currently listening, but potentially they could be…at any time. Guests and clients, those thinking about becoming your next guest, industry partners, competitors, journalists and thought leaders in your industry – could all tune in and turn on your Twitter feed; browse your LinkedIn page; flick through your Instagram; and have a nosy at you on Facebook – at any time.
When they are looking and listening, they are expecting to see posts, comments and content that reflect where your vacation rental business is at – at this very moment.
Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, YouTube and Instagram are the real-time drivers of what the world knows about you, your products, your mission and what makes your business a cut above the rest. Think of social media as a modern mix version of: the old school sandwich board on the street corner; the banter in the pub at lunchtime; the mums’ recommendations in the playground; and maybe even the old sofa on GMTV. Get it right and you are the toast of town, but get it wrong, or treat it as a bit of an afterthought, then you are at best missing a trick and at worst, damaging your reputation and losing business.
Crafting and implementing a decent social media strategy takes skill, creativity, forward thinking, an ability to build and manage relationships, an understanding of audiences, excellent communication skills, great copywriting, and of course it also needs to be backed up with an ability to analyse and interpret data. This is as relevant for a vacation rental agency as it is for a tech service provider.
According to the Chartered Institute of Public Relations (CIPR),
“Public Relations is about reputation – the result of what you do, what you say and what others say about you. Public Relations is the discipline which looks after reputation, with the aim of earning understanding and support and influencing opinion and behaviour. It is the planned and sustained effort to establish and maintain goodwill and mutual understanding between an organisation and its publics.”
Social fits with the CIPR’s description perfectly. Social media channels are an opportunity to manage your relationships (and reputation) with your public in a way that was unheard of not that long ago. Through social media, an organisation can speak directly to an individual and have a relevant conversation that is public and provides the wider community with a transparent view of the organisation. This insight can influence and support their opinion of you, their expectations of your service, and therefore any future decision that they may make about you and your products.
For this reason, PR skills that are essential for social media management include having an affinity with audiences and an understanding of what makes a relationship work. An intuitive sense of how dialogue can feel good to both parties. Traditionally these would be the PR’s ‘people skills’. The skill of making others feel good about their interactions with you and your organisation.
However, social media is not all about relationship building. It is as much about content and storytelling. A good PR (or social media manager) knows how to spot and craft a good story. A story that an audience is interested in hearing and talking (sharing) about.
A good PR understands what makes great content, can communicate a compelling message and knows how to pull out the relevant features. Making one piece of content work and work and work. A good PR can also edit and has excellent copywriting skills, all essential for composing a Tweet, Post or writing a longer LinkedIn article.
Successful social media also requires a perfect blend of strategic thinking, creative flair and tactical know-how. All skills that are part and parcel of successful PR. Add in a little crisis communications experience, and you have a compelling case for PR skills at the forefront of social media strategy and implementation.
If you would like to speak to the team at Abode PR about PR and social media for your vacation rental business, then drop us a line and get in touch. We’d love to chat.