#SFExperience: HomeAway’s Approach to Testing & Measuring Engaging Content

In our latest eBook, The Social Experience, we gathered insights and expert advice from today’s top brand social marketers and industry visionaries. We are sharing insights from this book these insights here on the Spredfast Blog. Today, Jennifer Stafford shares how HomeAway is maximizing fan engagement and growing awareness by testing and measuring content. 


At HomeAway, we’ve taken a focused approach to content testing and performance measurement in order to build a strategy that maximizes engagement from both our fans and those who are not already connected to our social accounts. Over several years, we’ve identified content categories that consistently perform well, and have incorporated those into monthly editorial calendars in order to have both our high performing and test content running concurrently. To grow a social program you have to know your audience, what content they respond to, how to blend engagement and business messaging, and the expected results from your various messages.

Our testing strategies vary across social networks, but have included engagement and traffic-driving experiments such as: day of week and time of day combinations; post length; photo and call to action variations; types of site content that receive the most traffic from social channels; and content categories that drive traffic versus engagement. HomeAway uses other data such as social sharing and inbound link trends, as well as seasonal and popular content trends to help build out our content testing plan.

After defining a strategy for ongoing and test content, performance measurement is essential to ensure that we’re growing reach, engagement and traffic, as well as keeping content fresh. Developing a consistent set of reporting that measures engagement weekly, and looks for traffic and strategic content trends on a monthly and quarterly basis is key. Reviewing engagement weekly enables us to quickly identify positive and negative trends in content, which can then be adjusted in our daily editorial calendar. Monthly and quarterly data reviews enable us to adjust our overall content strategy throughout the year.


One example of our testing and measurement results can be seen within our “Aspirational” content category. Throughout 2013 we’ve tested various aspirational vacation rentals such as castles, oceanfront mansions, and private islands on Facebook and Pinterest to determine which is most engaging. Testing revealed that private islands are our best performing content type in this category; our most recent post received over 17,000 points of engagement. Based on these results, the decision was made to begin featuring island properties as a separate content category, and a more frequent topic in our editorial calendar.

With a continuous testing and measurement approach we’ve been able to increase content engagement by 74% year over year. Social media referring traffic is also up almost 100% in the June to August time frame, year over year.


  LP-headshot-circle-jennJennifer Stafford is the Social Media Manager at HomeAway.com. She has worked at HomeAway since 2007 in both SEO and social media, and managed social media efforts for the 2010 and 2011 Super Bowl ad campaigns. She manages social media strategy, advertising, analytics, vendor and social network partnerships, global corporate communications for social media, and the employee social advocate program.

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Courtney Doman

Courtney is the Content Marketing Manager at Spredfast. She focuses on sharing smart social ideas and insights to transform the way companies connect with consumers. Courtney is a passionate football fan (supporting Arsenal and the USMNT), curious traveller, and ambitious home cook.