Social media marketing and vacation rentals

Vacation Rental Marketing – Taking The S and M Out Of Social Media

Taking The S & M Out Of Social Media

I thought that we would spice up this article by talking about a bit of sadomasochism. Now as I’m sure you know S &M involves a fair amount of pain and humiliation – You could well say the same for another form of S and M – Social Media, especially Social Media marketing. So I thought that I would share a little of my pain (and humiliation) with you.



My first business liaison with social media was with a young debutant called Twitter way back in 2006 – I had a listing company and tweeted about the company, our holiday homes and the area in which we rented. More importantly I searched Twitter for potential guests and to some degree that worked out well and I did get bookings that way. Twittery things went well for a few years.
Then I went sailing for a couple of years and didn’t really do much tweeting. Now skip forward to 2014 – There are 288 million users and the system is coping with around 546,000 tweets per minute.
Ask yourself – How are you going to get found?
Is your time well spent on Twitter? What’s the ROI? Where do these tweets go after posting?

I’m not wasting my time with Twitter anymore.



Don’t get me started! OK hands up, I’m not a fan of Facebook, yep, I’m on it and I have a business page but I’m no fan.
Here’s why.
Like some of you, I put a lot of time into Facebook. I made a page and posted a lot of stuff there. That would seem to make sense, after all there are over a 1 billion users.

After around two years of this I had around 300 followers, that’s not many (pain) but I am in a niche market, but here’s why I loathe Facebook – Only 7% of my followers actually get to see what I post. Around 20 people see my posts (humiliation). That’s the same for you if you too are marketing your properties on FB.

That’s just a waste of time. Ask yourself – How are people going to see what I have to say, if even those that want to read it don’t get to see it. It’s a closed network. The stuff you share doesn’t actually get shared.  

I’m not wasting my time with Facebook anymore.



Those of you that have been following me for a while know I’m a fan of Pinterest.

I was one of the first to use the platform (2010). I was the first to write articles showing vacation rental owners how to use it as part of their online marketing strategy. It does have some advantages over Twitter and Facebook. It’s lovely to look at and that’s a big plus and that’s more than you can say for Twitter (ugly by default).

Better still what you put on Pinterest stays on Pinterest. It doesn’t disappear into the ether like stuff on Twitter and Facebook – It actually stays on the web for people to discover in the future. It also boasts 70 million users but…

I’m not wasting my time with Pinterest anymore.

I could go on

There have been other platforms, from Geocities to Instagram, that have tied up my time and caused me plenty of ROI pain. Almost too many to mention. So many it hurts. Some came and went. Some were better than others. Some are still around and no doubt there will be more to come.

Why am I telling you this?
Because spending your time on any form of marketing that doesn’t work is little more than a vice. Ironically people are generally driven to vice by cruel social circumstance and that’s where our vacation rental marketing within social media falls down. It’s flawed, it has shortcomings and it has many limitations.

Up until now. Now there is a stronger force…

Enter the dominatrix

g+ logo

As I said before I’m not wasting my time with Twitter or Facebook or Pinterest these days. These days I spend my time with a new mistress, the dominatrix of social media, I spend my time on Google Plus. She doesn’t cause me pain, she doesn’t cause me humiliation. She is very powerful and empowers me and my mini blogging efforts to dominate the social media scene.

She’s very open about what she does, not closed and closeted like Mr Facebook.
She serves the tasty titbits that I hunger for, unlike the spammy (sound) bites that Twitter offers.

She’s a looker too. She’s as beautiful as little Miss Pinterest but she’s more grown up and much more attractive (as only a search engine can be).

This new dominatrix takes away my pain and humiliation, she doesn’t chain me to the desk, she takes the SM out of Social Media.


Gaining the whip hand



Using Google Plus gives me the whip hand over the other platforms and much more importantly over my competition.

Over half a billion people are on Google Plus. Over a million people a day are joining up. That’s a lot of potential guests – after all you only have 52 weeks to fill at your holiday property.

Here’s what I do and why I do it,

  • I now post exclusively to G+.
  • Most of my posts are around a paragraph long so it’s quick to post and quick to consume (people like quick in this rush rush internet of things).
  • I add images to all my posts. People are drawn to images. They convey a message. We live in an image hungry world. I make sure that I feed that hunger.
  • I add hashtags to all of my posts so they can be found in a number of places within Google Plus and (massive bonus) Google itself.
  • Google indexes these posts the second that I publish them.
  • It uses these posts in it’s semantic search results.
  • It uses these posts to compile what it knows about me into it’s knowledge graph (a sort of DNA health check – the more I post, the healthier I get).
  • Real people read these posts and “plus one” them, (similar to FB’s like button) it’s a sort of digital hat tip. The more this happens the higher Google rates me. (I have almost 10,000 plus ones on my business page – This is a huge indicator of social trust)
  • Real people share my posts and this enhances Google’s opinion of me and better still increases my exposure to even more people.
  • I’m getting far more engagement than I was prior to using this system.
  • I’m gaining a following too. As of today I have over 5,500 following my Google + rentmoreweeks page.
    We have over 3,500 people following our vacation rental property page.
  • I’m getting a lot of page views too – over 360,000 for my business page alone. Over 275,000 on our property page. These figures are increasing on a daily basis.

As said in Days of War, Nights of Love “What’s the point of doing anything if nobody’s watching?” 

  • I’m also getting a lot of people commenting on my posts, something that rarely happened with FB. I don’t have metrics on this but I would guess that I’ve had over 2,000 comments and if you think of these as social media phone calls that’s a lot.
  • I look at these as digital enquiries, electronic compliments and social introductions. Isn’t that what you want from your vacation rental marketing campaign?

I’m dominating my marketplace and my competition.

Another 2 billion reasons why I’m doing this

Time wasting

At the beginning of this article I said that I wasn’t wasting my time on Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest anymore and although this is somewhat true it doesn’t paint the real picture.
I am on all of these platforms and I post to them pretty much every day. I just don’t spend ANY time on them.

I syndicate my Google Plus posts to Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr and Linkedin – Automatically.
At the click of a button I share selected posts to Pinterest too.

There are after all 2 billion people on these social media outlets and to ignore that amount of potential guests would be plain stupid of me. There are a lot of people who only use Facebook so if I don’t have a FB presence these people can’t find me or my offerings (this equates to lost bookings). The same goes for Twitter and the other platforms.

I just don’t have the time to be in all of these places. Who does? But I have signed up, created profiles and pages on these platforms and, as I said, I autopost from G+ outwards. I have email notifications and smartphone alerts that tell me when someone has liked a post, retweeted a Tweet or followed one of my boards on Pinterest.

I then interact with those individuals. Straight away. As if I was waiting for their call.

I’m not wasting my time on these platforms but I’m certainly not wasting marketing potential either.



How’s this all add up?

It's not called Google plus for nothing

Well it adds up to some pretty big numbers (it’s not called Google PLUS for nothing).

I’m putting my humble little bite size offerings in front of a lot of (potentially 2 billion) people.
I’m also building a large number of digital footprints across the web and this is key to a successful social media marketing strategy.

When it comes to vacation rental marketing in 2014 and beyond it’s not, “what you know”. It’s not even “who you know”, any more.

It’s who knows you that counts…

In the most basic terms, the more digital footprints that you leave across the web the more likely people are to come across them. This is why a lively social media presence is so beneficial, crucial even. Every post is another footprint. In fact if you add hashtags and syndicate that post, every post is another 35 footprints.
Think about that.

It pays to get your digital self out and about.

It pays to leave an impression. It pays to stomp right across social media.

Read more about VR marketing, social media and the importance of digital footprints here and here 

At the end of the day it’s a numbers game

Look at it like this,

  • I post 5 times a week, roughly, (these are only mini posts after all) and I do that consistently.
  • I add 3 or 4 hashtags to each post.
  • I syndicate these posts to up to 5 other platforms

I’m leaving around 7,000 digital footprints, per year, across the web where people can find me.

I’m no sadomasochist. No pain or humiliation there.


Here’s the vacation rental marketing takeaway

The vacation rental marketing takeaway

As you can see social media has been evolving before our very eyes.

Have a look at some of Seth Odin’s work to find out more.

Guerrilla Marketing for the Home-Based Business

Tribes: We Need You to Lead Us

As he says in the first book “How can you squander even one more day not taking advantage of the greatest shifts of our generation? How dare you settle for less when the world has made it so easy for you to be remarkable?”

Better still,

In order to show you more about social media and vacation rental marketing in particular  we have put together a free social media basics course for vacation rental owners just like you.


Social Media Basics For Vacation Rental Owners

You can enrol for free here

In fact we have created an online learning centre for vacation rental owners.
It’s the university of bookings.

It’s very different to other VR websites as our courses are video based. We don’t just tell you what to do, we actually show you what the professionals are doing with over the shoulder screencast video courses. Our Social media marketing for vacation rental owners course has 24 videos alone, along with PDF’s and other material. We also have a thriving active community of owners across all 5 continents.

Check it out here – Pain relief at the click of a button.


What do you do?

I would love to hear your views. Please use the comments section below to share your thoughts.



  • Susan Walker

    Excellent post Alan. A really good slant on S+M! Enjoyable, informative and to the point.

    Many thanks.

    • alanbook

      Thanks you Susan,

      Thanks for getting in touch, your feedback is much appreciated. I’m glad that you enjoyed it, that makes the work worthwhile.

      Regards Alan

  • Rae

    A really great post Alan. It summarises so succinctly social media platforms and makes for compelling reading. Who wouldn’t want to know more?

    • alanbook

      Thank you Rae, I’m glad that you liked it.

  • Amy

    Very powerful post and I couldn’t agree more! I’ve reached more people with G+ in a few short weeks than I have with Facebook. My Facebook posts reach maybe 15-20 people! It’s a no-brainer to me!

    • alanbook

      Thanks Amy, As you say, it really is a no brainer. The reach on Facebook is just appalling. I have 302 followers on FB and this post reached 5 of them – less than 2% reach – shocking

  • helen

    Great Post Alan, totally agree. I have more interaction from G+ in 1 week than a whole year from FB with 14000+ likes on FB page! Thanks for the interesting read – so true!

  • alanbook

    Me too. Wow, amazing figures Helen. Yikes, 14000 likes. But it’s a ghost town when it comes to interaction unless it’s silly videos or cat photos.

  • Darik Eaton


    Interesting your thoughts. I don’t disagree at all how hard it is to be heard on these other platforms. But what do you think about how Google is shifting most of its employees away from google plus into other segments of their business:

    Since I’ve read that article and others like it I’ve wondered what to do in that arena.

    Interested to see your thoughts, if you heard about this shift yet, and how that may adjust strategy?

    • alanbook

      Hello Darik,

      Thanks for getting in touch and taking the time to comment.

      It’s a fair question.
      The only thing is that that story was put out by Techcrunch (in April). Maybe they had an insider in Google. Maybe they had a disgruntled insider in Google. The thing is that next to nobody picked that story up, so I’m not to sure that it was altogether factual.

      The New York Times interviewed Larry Page (Google founder and CEO) only last week and here’s what he had it say about Google Plus…
      “What’s going on with Google Plus?

      Mr. Page: I think there’s a lot of things going on with Google Plus. I’m a very excited user of it. You saw some demos showing how it works with Chromecast — that’s one of the things I’ve been excited about. The service has been growing tremendously. People are always like, “Oh, what’s going on?” But for us, we’re super excited about it because it’s a big service, growing continuously, since we launched it, at a high rate, and we’re making it better and better every day.

      Is “social” as important to you now as it was two years ago?

      Mr. Page: Yes, if anything, probably more important. We have a very excited, dedicated community. People forget we’re able to make our services better by understanding your relationships, making sharing work and understanding identity. These are deep and important things for us as a company.

      When people ask about Google Plus they think about it as, “I’m going to the stream.” For us, Google Play reviews are part of Google Plus, too. We see all those things growing and being important for us.”

      So in answer to your question, my thoughts are that Google Plus is the best social media platform out there because “it’s Google” There are a host of other reasons why I think that way but still the overriding factor for me is that “it’s Google”. I spent 5 years full time working on SEO and now Google come along and invite me to sit at their table.
      What could be better?

      I think that much of this “ghost town” and “Shutting down” talk comes from Google haters just as Microsoft had their haters in their day, as do Apple and Google at the moment. Success seems to breed snipers for some reason.

      As to G+ going the way of Google Wave, I can’t see that. Wave didn’t have a million people signing up every day. Wave didn’t have half a billion active users.
      That’s 6 times the amount of Pinterest users and you don’t see anyone saying Pinterest is pants and will be closing down.