Instagram Challenge

Dear hosts, in today’s episode I’m going to tell you about something that I’m trying out with Instagram. Yes, I’m still on Facebook at The Hosting Journey, Facebook at The Hosting Journey, but I have expanded my social media reach to Instagram and I wanted to share with you about an opportunity. Today’s episode is The 2020 Host Collaborative Challenge on Instagram. 

Previous Challenge:

Before you go and say, “Yeah, but I don’t have beautiful photos,” “I don’t have time,” ”Will my guests find me?” and the biggest objection: “I don’t know what to post,” let me reassure you. 

I feel you, and that’s what this episode is about. I’m not an expert on Instagram and this episode doesn’t pretend to be a strategic marketing plan. 

Nope, it’s a fun episode about a group of hosts who got together and did a 10-day photo challenge that started on August first. I found out about the challenge because the lovely Natalie Cacao posted about it, and she is one of the hosts who’s participating. (You may remember Natalie from one of your favorite Hosting Journey episodes, 110: La Casita Cacao Starting a Brand New Airbnb During COVID.)

That challenge happened and ended, and now they’re starting a new one and I want you to be part of it.

Trying New Things:

Ahh… new things—whether it‘s Instagram or getting on to a new platform like We, humans, resist change. At least I know I do. We get comfortable and don’t want to try something new… but remember: you tried Airbnb and the vacation rental world, and look at how you’re doing now. 

Ok, maybe now might not be a great time for you to tell me how you’re doing since guests are a bit extra this year; you might not be making the same money and, well, we’re going through some challenges as hosts. 

But it has been fun. Ok, not fun, but we have learned and grown as human beings. And here we are.

Please know that I’m not an expert on Instagram and don’t play one on TV (or anywhere else), but I’m into trying new things. So…

Let’s give Instagram a chance.

A Dedicated Account:

If you don’t have a dedicated Instagram account for your vacation rental, please open one up. You can have a personal account where you post your selfies and birthday photos, but you need a dedicated account just for your vacation rental. 

Yes, you can have some personal photos of yourself in that account, too; but it’s about your vacation rental, not about your sourdough bread win.

It’s simple to go from one account to another, so no worries.

Why Instagram?

According to Hootsuite’s article, 37 Instagram Stats That Matter to Marketers in 2020

  • One billion people use Instagram every month, that’s a billion with a b, my dear hosts. 
  • Instagram will reach over 112 million United States users in 2020. 
  • You will find that 47% of the users are age 30 to 49. Are those the folks that book your place? 
  • 67% of the users are 18 to 29. Right now I have a 27-year-old guest staying in La Casita in Puerto Rico. He is excellent.

You see, I have an Instagram account for Puerto Rico but not for New York. My New York home is rented more often by families and grandparents, and they’re mostly hanging out on Facebook.  

Make sure that you’re using the correct platform for your vacation rental. 

What To Post:

That is the biggest question, and this is where this amazing challenge will help you. 

Instagram feels very collaborative, which I love. Remember there is enough for everyone. You’ll get booked, and there are only so many days in the month. Once you’re booked, you’re booked. 

The Hosts Behind the Challenge:

Here’s a brief bio on each of them…

La Casita Cacao Instagram Challenge

First, we have Natalie Cacao from La Casita Cacao. Her Instagram handle is @lacasitacacao.

As you know from Episode 110 A Brand New Airbnb Opens During COVID-19 – La Casita Cacao, she has a lovely place by the desert in California with Alpacas. We all love Alpacas. 

Rock Ridge Instagram Challenge

Diana and Greg are the hosts of Rock Ridge Casita, located in Oakland, California. Their Instagram is @rockridgecasita.

They have a lovely casita that used to be a falling-down garage, they demolished and rebuilt it into a beautiful space for guests.

Next, we have Jesse and Priscilla with their Cozy Big Bear Cabin, located in Big Bear, California. Their Instagram handle is @thehoneybearcabin.

Honey Bear Cabin Instagram Challenge
Rebecca Rhey Instagram Challenge

Then you have Rebecca Rhey, and she’s the host of Lake View Haven—a stunning three bedroom bungalow located in Ohio.

You have to see the decor and style! Her Instagram handle is @rebeccarhey.

Also, Lauren and Cameron have The Hillside House in North Carolina, overlooking the Grandfather Mountain.

It’s a beautiful area – full of hiking, waterfalls, endless views, great restaurants, and farmer’s markets. You can find out all about it at their Instagram handle @the_hillside_house.

The Hillside House Instagram Challenge
Kenzie Faith Instagram Challenge

Then there’s Kenzie Faith who’s a Social Media Consultant doing Instagram Strategies for Bnb Hosts. Helping you take the guesswork out of social media. You can find her at her Instagram account, @oursocialstudio.

There Maui Instagram Challenge

You’ll also find Klara & Brandon who are hosts of THERE Maui, an Airbnb in Hawaii.

They started as camper hosts with vintage VW buses and then they transitioned to hosting in their cottage. You can find all about their adventures at @livetravelbe.there

Mama mode Instagram Challenge

Andrea is the Superhost behind the account Mamma.mode and she has an Etsy shop with templates and printables for your hosting needs. You can find out more at Andrea’s Instagram account, @mamma.mode 

The Nene Nest Instagram Challenge

Last but not least is Melissa with the Nene Nest, a restored plantation cottage in Hawaii. Go and check them out at their Instagram @thenenenest.kauai

Why Who’s Behind the Challenge?

One of the rules to participate is to follow all the hosts behind the challenge. Hey, their challenge, their rules, right? 

Now let me tell you what else you need to do to participate:

1) Post a photo corresponding to the theme of the week using the hashtag #TheHostCollaborative ⁣⁣

⁣2) Follow all the hosts I’ve mentioned above. 

3) Every Wednesday the hosts who created the challenge will share their favorites of the week. That’s why you have to follow them because they might mention you in their stories. 

What to Post?

Ahh… well, the hosts behind this challenge made it easy—there’s a calendar of what to post every week. Yes, you have an entire week, until Tuesday, to post your photo.

Weekly Assignments: 

  1. “Welcome,” all about the entrance to your rental. 
  2. “Favorite Photo” of your listing.
  3. “Summertime at Your Rental”… It’s ok if your summer is different. 
  4. “How has COVID Changed Your Hosting?”
  5. “Before and After…” 

There are 22 weeks of prompt ideas. 

Host Collaborative instagram Challenge Calendar

My recommendation is to create the content ahead of time and not be like me and do it at the last minute. Hey, I’m speaking the truth…

This group of hosts created this challenge to make genuine connections, collaborate and build community, but most importantly to HAVE FUN!

I know this is a lot of information and I decided to bring back Natalie so she can give her insight about the challenge.

Evelyn: 13:17 I asked you Natalie, to come onto the Hosting Journey one more time, besides that everybody loves your episode.

Natalie: 13:25 Oh, that's so great.
Evelyn: 13:26 I know! Did you see that? from that host who was like, “Oh no, that was one of my favorites” So, but that wasn't it. I'm actually going to do a whole podcast episode all about the Instagram challenge. I'm hoping for it to come out today's Thursday. So I'm going to record it either today or tomorrow for it to come out by this weekend. So people can start this for Wednesdays. Tell us.
Natalie: 13:55 Yes, you know, what we've been getting so many DMS of people — host! thanking us for putting it together. Because it really is not only fun, but it also gives you so much direction in what to do for your social media. Yes, yes.
Evelyn: 14:15 Yeah! Yeah, because we don't, we don't do much on social media for Instagram, especially because we're like, “Well, what do I post about what do I write?” So this is great. And I love it that now this time around you guys decided to do it as like a weekly assignment and not a daily thing, because that was intense.
Natalie: 14:32 Yeah. That's what we got to. That's what we got. We got that. It was pretty intense, you know, 10 days in a row, especially if you're a host that doesn't post, you know, even the day or two days in a row. But, I think that was just a test to see if people would respond if people would participate, and we got a huge, “YES!” So, we figured this could be really fun if we finish it off the rest of the year,. There's 22 weeks left in the year. If we do 22 prompts, you know. Hosts will have seven days to post that theme to picture. I think seven days is enough time. Yes. And then, on Wednesdays, we can get nine Co-host that can share these pictures on their accounts. And that's how it gains a little bit more exposure to those smaller accounts or there's so many Airbnbs that I discovered every day. Stays that are out there that you just don't know.
Evelyn: 15:36 Yeah. And I think individually, we could also promote. Look, I'm not part of you guys host collective and I'm promoting this event.
Natalie: 15:47 Yeah, we are like open and we want to invite anybody who wants to participate and jump on. It doesn't have to be starting this Wednesday. If you want to jump in on just one theme, do it! Go ahead and post your picture participate. And we will definitely share that picture to other hosts.
Evelyn: 16:10 Yes. Thank you so much. So let's talk about how was it that this whole started? What made you guys like, how did you girls? Oh, I imagine it's all women, right? was there?
Natalie: 16:22 No. Okay. So it's kind funny how it started.
Evelyn: 16:25 I went to old nine accounts. I've written all about the old nine accounts. We don't have to mention them now because I'm going to mention them on the, on this episode. But, I saw that they were all women.
Natalie: 16:37 You know, that was not on purpose because I was the one who actually had this idea for a while. I follow a farming challenge. So I followed and I participated in a, I think it was like a March month. It was a whole month of photo ideas and prompts for homestead and farming. And, I was just thinking, how can I work out the social media for my actual business, my Airbnb. And I thought, what if I take the same concept of this calendar of 31 days for farming. I can do it for hosting. And I thought it'll help me because there are days when I go through dry spells and not posting. And it's not because I don't have pictures and it's not because I don't have content it's because I don't know how to organize it and put it together where it makes sense. And I always feel like, “Ooh, what if I put it out there? And nobody really cares for this information”. So I thought, why don't I make up this calendar a challenge where I put a hashtag together and invite other cohost that would want to participate. And then at the end of the day, we can show those pictures on our stories and to speak to them. And so that's kind of where the idea came from. It originated from a homesteading farming challenge that I did. And I just started reaching out. I reached out first to Diana from the Rock Ridge Caseta, and she's just always been a very inspiring host to me. And right off the bat, she said, “Yes, let's do it!” So I felt, “Wow, okay, this, this could be really good”. And then I reached out to Kenzie from our social space. And again, she's amazing, if you see her count, she actually already gives host prompts, picture prompts. You know, she tells them do this post this, and that's where it all came together. The three of us. And then we just started reaching out to the other accounts that we enjoyed and wanted to see if they were part of it. So the original nine is from hosts that we knew closely on Instagram or related closely on Instagram. That's how we formed all nine. And some of them, I got to meet during this challenge. I didn't know about for example, the Wilson house. So that's how it started! I put together this calendar, we make the list of prompts and we said, “Let's just do it”. It took us about a week for us to put it together and put it out there.
Evelyn: 19:29 And it's a lot of work. I know, I, I know this is work. People don't realize, because you guys not only do you have to do the challenge and do the questions and everything else, but you guys are also scouting through the Instagram and then you feature people.
Natalie: 19:47 Well, it was working in the sense that I asked each co-host. One of the rules obviously was that we were going to, at the end of the day feature, the pictures that were uploaded through the hashtag. And so for 10 days they separated about an hour. It was really more like two hours to go through the pictures and repost them on the story, read the captions, engage with the host. And so they did do that. They, separated those two hours at the end of each day. And for that, we're so grateful that they were willing to do that.
Evelyn: 20:24 Yes, I think it's great. So I want to say, thank you. Thank you, Natalie, for taking the initiative because it's about community and engagement and one of the things that that hosts sometimes think about is like, “Oh, but it's competition and there's enough for all of us”.
Natalie: 20:46 No, and I set up from the beginning. It is not about competition. It is about community always. Because there is space for everybody. Everybody has a different stay, a different kind of stay. And I think we all realized through this competition that we have the same photo prompt, but we are so unique and creative in our own styles that we create completely different posts around that one prompt. Yes. And so I think that's what motivated other hosts to say, Oh, I can appreciate and value, what this other host is doing. And that's the same time feel great about my space. So it's not like the grass is greener on the other side, but it's “Wow, your place is amazing. Mine is too, this is, this is great! We can engage with each other without feeling competitive”.
Evelyn: 21:38 Yes. Well, and not only that, but also like what we also have to remember is like, there are 30 days in the calendar. Once you're booked, you're booked! Right? All the many places. And you know, for me, it's like, it's great to know, like this, I could recommend Lacasita in the desert. I could recommend all the places, you know, dissolve back as in Atlanta with Decatur. So, there's different places in different hosts that I could recommend and say, “Oh yeah, no, if you're thinking about going here, this is other ones”. Or even in Puerto Rico, there's some hosts that I follow that I'm like, “Oh, Hey, my space is not perfect for you, but go here”.
Natalie: 22:20 Totally. We actually did have for example, I had a friend who's traveling to Lake Tahoe and she asked me “Do you know, anybody from Lake Tahoe” Well, through the challenge I met about six or seven different Tahoe stays. And I just went on their accounts and I started tagging her, dropping her in their accounts. This is a great place! And that was the host turned to reach out and engage with that potential client. That potential stay.
Evelyn: 22:48 Yeah, exactly! So dear host, Natalie, the host challenge on Instagram, I hope to see you there. And you know, this is the episode, just all about — this is not an Instagram strategy episode. It's all about this challenge. Anything else that you want to say, Natalie?
Natalie: 23:08 I would just encourage anybody who sometimes feels adding lost with social media. It's such a huge engine to drive. If you ever feel like you're all over the place, then just join us! We have been putting together this calendar for the rest of the year where you know exactly what to post and not only that, but you will have other hosts engage with your content. And if you're not familiar with the algorithm of Instagram, the more engagement, the more exposure you get in front of the eyes of potential clients, that's just how it works. It's a community. And like Evelyn said, it is, it is community over competition. We're lifting each other up. That is the sole purpose of the host collaborative hashtag.
Evelyn: 23:57 Yes. Perfect. Thank you so much, Natalie.

Natalie: 24:00 Yeah, you're very welcome.

Remember, we’re not alone, we’re a community of hosts and it’s great to learn from all of s.

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