TikTok erupted during the pandemic. With the global population confined to homes, many took to the emerging social media platform to unleash their creativity and reconnect with loved ones. Families, in particular, found themselves competing in viral challenges or learning the latest dance trends to demonstrate togetherness. With Vrbo known as a brand championing togetherness and defining family as anyone you love spending time with, it was only natural that our social team was drawn to the platform for their next challenge — how to gain and surpass 1 million followers on TikTok.
Research revealed there wasn’t a significant vacation rental presence on the growing medium, uncovering a huge opportunity for Vrbo to be the leading brand, capture the share of voice and build a strong base of followers to increase engagement.
An early adopter within the travel industry, we set out to find the travel enthusiasts of TikTok, using creator-led content to entertain and inspire our audiences. Our goal was to identify how we could use the channel to amplify the launch of Vrbo’s new global platform, “A Place for Together,” and achieve immense growth while remaining authentic to TikTok’s unique story-telling style and low production values.
2022 became the focus year for growing our TikTok following. We started the year with just over 72,000 followers and by asking the question, ‘How can we catapult this account?’
We identified February as a key moment for us to grow our reach, thanks to the launch of Vrbo’s new global platform, “A Place for Together.” A new ad campaign debuted during the pre-game show of arguably the most prominent annual moment for commercials — the 2022 Super Bowl (and during halftime in Canada). The ad showed all types of “families” enjoying beautiful Vrbo vacation homes, set to a soundtrack of Kermit the Frog’s “Right Where I Belong.”
The strategic timing meant the ad was already getting attention on social media channels, and we complemented it with the launch of our first-ever TikTok hashtag challenge to tap into the platform’s strong sense of community and togetherness. We uploaded Kermit’s iconic tune to TikTok and invited the community to use the sound in their videos while ‘showing off your people’ with the hashtag #AVrboForTogether. To encourage participation, we worked with popular creators like @oldgays, who created heartwarming videos demonstrating how they’re ‘right where they belong’ with their versions of family. (See links for examples.) To entice a high participation rate, we also offered users taking part in the challenge a chance to win a $5,000 Vrbo stay.
To ensure a broad reach with the message, we launched a creator-led TopView ad in Canada and Top Feed ads in the U.S. We also used Spark Ads to amplify other creator-fueled content to encourage further participation in #AVrboForTogether.
Following the success of our hashtag campaign, we doubled down on our content strategy, using a roster of creators to regularly source content that feels authentic to TikTok’s unique story-telling style.
We adopted a “less is more” mentality, creating with a low production value (i.e., iPhone footage and simple edits) but high share value. We decided against outsourcing our content creator program to an agency and instead built it up in-house, searching through TikTok to identify authentic family-forward content. This helped create consistent content. At our core is an always-on content strategy that relies on sharing compelling subject matter (read: stellar vacation rentals) to attract new audiences and build a community. Their stories evoked the emotion of the perfect getaway against stunning settings that included locations such as a cozy lakefront home in Balsam Lake, Wisconsin, to a gorgeous villa in Santorini, Greece. From there, we’re always looking to lean into trends and cultural moments to drive engagement.
As a travel brand on social, our job is simple: Share unique travel experiences to inspire more travel. Rather than reinventing the wheel, we shine at being the best at best practices — posting the right content, at the right time, to the right people.
We hit 1 million followers on September 26, three months ahead of our target. Other metrics included:
Specific to our #AVrboForTogether hashtag challenge, our page in the U.S. and Canada was viewed over 3 billion times during the first six days of the campaign. Globally, users embraced the challenge, creating over 2 million TikTok videos using the hashtag. Our TopView ad in Canada outperformed regional watch-time benchmarks by 85%, demonstrating the power of creator-led content paired with the right sound. Brand Lift Study results further proved the effectiveness of the campaign, drawing in +3.8% Favorability and +2.6% Brand Association from the TikTok community.
And we’re still seeing consistency in our growth rate, especially in comparison to our low-spend and always-on strategy, achieving a cadence of about 100,000 followers per month.