How Airbnb saved the lights on when everybody was house | Sprout Social


At the beginning of the pandemic, the future for Airbnb was bleak. The notorious disruptor of the hotel industry now faced a devastating disruption of its own. Interrupted travel, on-site protection, and strict social distancing cost them $ 1 billion in canceled bookings – a loss that left them no choice but to postpone their long-awaited IPO plans and cut their workforce by nearly 2,000.

But by the end of summer the tide had turned. The brand stunned the corporate sector as it rebounded from a 90% decrease in bookings to a 22% increase in consumer spending year over year in July. Not to mention, despite all the odds, it filed for its IPO.

So what contributed to the brand’s comeback? A deep dive into his social activity over the past few months gives us several clues.


As I scrolled through Airbnb’s Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube feeds, a few things became clear:

1. You act quickly

Your team has launched several large-scale initiatives since the pandemic began. The first was #FrontlineStays, where they worked with hosts to provide free living space to 100,000 doctors, nurses and other frontline workers. Most impressive was how quickly the brand set up this campaign. #FrontlineStays kicked off on March 26th – just 13 days after COVID-19 was declared a national emergency in the US.

Takeaways: By acting quickly, Airbnb was able to have a tangible impact on the global crisis at a crucial time. Instead of just donating money, they donated their offer. It is good practice for your brand to think about how your unique product, offering, or service can make a difference in a time of need.

To increase the speed of your own creative and strategic spending, develop an agile creative work process that includes a condensed review workflow. Planning and planning your content ahead of time also helps you create faster posts on the fly.

2. They understand the needs of their audience on a deeper level

Shortly after #FrontlineStays, the brand presented “Online Experiences”, the digital equivalent of their existing “Experiences” offer. Experiences are unique activities that offer a deep insight into the world and passions of the local host. With experiences no longer taking place in physical spaces, Airbnb realized that the audience’s need for adventure and connection was stronger than ever.

Not only was this a way for people to stay connected during the shutdown, but it was also a smart strategy for hosts to make money while their properties were vacant. Online experiences are now a focus of Airbnb’s social content strategy and could remain an important part of the company’s service offering after the in-person experience opens.

Another advantage of online experiences is that Airbnb can use the data from sign-ups and social engagement to learn even more about their audience. These insights are essential for practically all areas of the company from marketing and sales to research and development to customer service and more.

Takeaways: Catherine Powell, director of Airbnb Experiences, said that “the human connection is at the heart of everything we do”. When circumstances beyond the brand’s control prevented them from offering their normal services, they returned to the deepest need of their audience: connection. And they found a way to create it in the only place they could: online.

What is the core of your product or offering? What need does it answer for your audience? Keep this need first in everything you create and you can’t lose.

3. Your content is determined by data

Another program that has had a huge impact on Airbnb’s social profiles is the #GoNear campaign – a new initiative to support economic growth through local travel. Using the company’s proprietary booking data and customer surveys, they noticed a growing demand for travel close by within 300 miles or a day’s drive of people’s homes.

A deeper dive into some of the company’s trend reports reveals additional insights: an affinity for remote locations, unique and work-friendly spaces, and extended stays. You’ve also noticed a surge in the search for international destinations, suggesting a rekindled wanderlust. And you’ll see that the brand’s social content reflects those insights: posts about driving on the road, working from home, floating cabins, and the occasional jealous view.

Are you planning a road trip? It is essential to observe the following information, e. B. Information about travel restrictions and downloading apps that allow you to carefully plan your stopovers to protect yourself and others on your way.

– Airbnb (@Airbnb) September 1, 2020

Takeaways: Engagement with social networks depends on the relevance of your content. One way to make sure your posts are resonating is to tailor your content to reflect your audience’s trends – which you can identify with a good social listening tool.

You can also use your own social data and that of your competitors to determine which types of content are performing the best. The data itself can even lead to great content if it’s compelling or interesting enough. Airbnb does this by sharing posts that show the trending searches on their website.

Top trending unique stays on Airbnb right now:
???? shepherds’ huts
???? barns
???? trains
???? cabins
???? tiny houses

– Airbnb (@Airbnb) September 4, 2020

4. You know how to edit the right channels

A common mistake brands make on their social channels is using the same content on every platform. Since no two channels are alike, you must offer a unique experience on each platform to be successful. And that’s exactly what Airbnb does. For example, their Instagram grid looks and reads like a travel diary. It’s full of dream destinations, excerpts from listings, and quotes from hosts and guests describing their adventures.

Their tweets, on the other hand, are much more interactive and often prompt their followers to pick a favorite or take a survey. Her tone is also less whimsical and funnier. If the brand’s Instagram reads like a travel journal, the Twitter reads like … well, a Twitter – which means they use more everyday / slang phrases and language. This is also where the brand shares more blog articles and resources. They know that more people use Twitter than Instagram to read news and consume helpful information.

Then there’s Airbnb’s YouTube channel, which is full of beautiful, Travel Channel-like video content. The brand’s robust video library contains playlists of destination and adventure highlights, content from Experiences (both online and in person), and other content such as tips for hosts and guests. This target-specific content likely came in handy for making the adventure itch while the brand’s audience was stuck at home and unable to travel.

Takeaways: Each platform has nuances and best practices to generate engagement. Your brand may not need to be present on every platform, but in order for your posts to get resonance you need to have a strategy that is specific to the platform you are using.

This article breaks social media marketing tips down by platform. It’s also important to have a good social management solution to develop, monitor, and optimize a solid cross-channel social strategy (plug intended).

5. They are great partners

Airbnb’s most recent initiative is likely the largest yet: a global partnership with the International Olympic Committee (IOC) to support the Olympic Movement through 2028. The announcement said that “the nine-year five-game partnership will create a new standard for hosting, which will be a win for the host cities, a win for the spectators and fans and a win for the athletes. “

This partnership will create hundreds of thousands of new hosts, new Airbnb “Olympian Experiences,” support for refugee athletes, positive economic impact, and new, unique accommodations and services.

Do you want to know what else it creates? Content. Olympic interviews and experiences are an important pillar of Airbnb’s content strategy today.

However, this isn’t the brand’s only partnership. Past and current partners include the Adventure Travel Trade Association (ATTA), MINI Cooper, and The NAACP, to name a few. Not to mention the local government agencies, nonprofit partners, and tourism associations from around the world – including the National Park Foundation (US) – who are an integral part of the brand’s #GoNear campaign.

Takeaways: Partnerships can lead to all kinds of organizational benefits, including increasing credibility and sales. They’re also great brand makers, awareness and content drivers. Partnerships can help expand your reach, communicate core values, and create new ways to connect and serve your audience on social networks.

Identifying the right partners for your brands starts with learning more about your audience. What other brands are you loyal to? Make sure to find partners in categories related to your own and companies that share your values.

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