This summer, Facebook has rolled out a number of marketing tools that can help expand your reach and attract new people to your vacation rental – without paid advertising.

Graph Search and hashtags have the potential to drive people to your Facebook Page through relevant information that’s being shared on the network.

A third feature that just launched – the ability to embed Facebook posts onto other websites – means that, especially if you have your own website, you can draw people into your Facebook content without them ever leaving your site.

Graph Search: showing up when it matters

Graph Search, currently only available to English speakers, changes the whole dynamic of finding information on the world’s largest social network.

The scope of these search filters is impressive; they allow you to sift through your Facebook friends by various details, from favorite movies to marital status or hometown. The idea is to put the collective interests of your friends – and others who share your preferences – at your fingertips.

Graph Search only works for personal connections; you can’t use it to “deep dive” into the preferences of people who’ve liked your Page. But you do want to make sure your Page shows up when people are looking for related information and inspiration.

Right On – No Bull Marketing compiled a helpful list of things you can do to optimize your Page. Here are the three I suggest you start with:

  • Set your location: Whether tagging their photos with your location or “checking in”, location is a key element of Graph Search. If you haven’t added your vacation rental’s address to your Page, it won’t show up.

  • Add topics to your Page: Review your Page Info and add as many as three relevant topics. “Vacation Home Rental”, your location, and your primary niche (i.e. “leisure”) are a few possibilities to get you started.

  • Add photos, and encourage people to share their photos with you: Sharing photos is a great thing to do on your Facebook Page regardless, but Graph Search makes it even more important because the more photos connected to your property (posted by you, or tagged with your location), the more those images will show up in search results.

Hashtags aren’t just for Twitter

Hashtags – a keyword preceded by # – are most commonly used on Twitter, but they didn’t originate there and other social networks use them, too; they’re an easy way to connect related posts.

Now, hashtags are available on Facebook. An update tagged with “#LakePlacid”, for example, is instantly linked to other posts with the same tag: personal photos and status updates, posts from local businesses, tourist information.

When used, it can be a great way for people to discover you. Unfortunately, use of hashtags seems to be pretty low at the moment; people may be using them in their posts, but few people are actually clicking on them. Regardless, adding relevant hashtags isn’t a bad habit to get into.

  • Pick a few keywords for your vacation rental that make sense as hashtags. They should be common words, like a location name; acronyms and abbreviations will be too obscure for someone who doesn’t know to look for them.

  • Adding a # to the beginning of your keywords, search for them on Facebook. Are people and other businesses using them? Start by using more active hashtags.

  • Check the Facebook mobile website (not the app) on your smartphone for trending topics. This is only being tested with a portion of Facebook mobile users, but it could provide interesting ideas. Sharkweek, for example, was a trending topic earlier this month; some vacation rental owners could have had fun working that into updates!

Embed your Facebook posts where you want ‘em

A small but useful new feature allows you to embed posts from your Facebook Page on your website.

“When embedded, posts can include pictures, videos, hashtags and other content,” Facebook explained. “People can also like and share the post directly from the embed.”

You could use embedded posts to share

  • guest reviews
  • photos (a great way to build momentum for Graph Search!)
  • popular discussions

Embedding posts is a small thing (and relatively easy to do) that will help you bring your different online marketing efforts together.

Is Facebook an active part of your vacation rental marketing? What do you think of these changes? Tell us what you think in the comments below.