A Facebook Page is a great way to stay in touch with previous guests and other fans of your vacation rental. Recent changes, like new features to help you reach even more people, make Pages even more intriguing.

Then there are Facebook’s paid advertising options to consider: Should you or shouldn’t you?

I think it’s too easy to put money into a Facebook ad and see no impact to your bottom line. That doesn’t mean advertising on Facebook is a bust, but it does mean you should have a plan, realistic expectations, and a willingness to experiment before giving it a try.

When is Facebook advertising worth it?

Mashable recently asked a panel of entrepreneurs: Are paid Facebook ads worth the bucks? Their experience and advice makes for solid reading, but here’s a quick look at my takeaways:

  • Aim for list building, not immediate sales. Most of the people interviewed use it as a way to grow their email lists. If you do any email marketing, like sending out a regular newsletter, an ad could be great way to grow your list for bookings down the road.

  • Target, target, target. Facebook gives you impressive filters to target your advertising — the challenge is finding the best way to use them. A successful ad needs to target a specific group of people with a specific action to take.

  • Test and try again. Entrepreneurs with larger audiences can easily test ads and sort through what people do or don’t respond to. This is harder to do when you have a smaller budget to target a smaller group of people, but the lesson is still there: Always be testing, and learn from what works.

I think this advice points to something else that’s important for vacation rental owners to keep in mind: Facebook advertising has a place, but it’s not Step One in your marketing plan.

You don’t need a big budget to try Facebook advertising, but it brings the most value when it’s part of a larger marketing strategy. With limited time and resources, I think your business will be better served by refining your other marketing tactics first.

Current options for Facebook ads

If you are refining your marketing efforts and Facebook advertising is a good fit, there are a few different options for you to consider. For example, you can:

Facebook "Sponsored Stories" screenshot

Like many things on Facebook, advertising features are always being tweaked and launched; reports are that video ads will be coming to Facebook soon.

Have you tried Facebook advertising for you vacation rental Page? What were the results, and what will you do differently next time?