Growth at Scale: Getting to product + sharing fit

Optimizing social sharing at Airbnb in 2015

By Chris Wren

Travelers like to talk about Airbnb.

Some of this conversation occurs outside of Airbnb’s purview (like an in-person conversation or a Snap of an Airbnb listing), but other times it happens on, the iOS or Android apps, or on a site linking to Airbnb. In the latter case, we (Airbnb) have an opportunity to influence how the conversation transpires.

In this post, I will share a few features and optimizations that the Growth Team launched in 2015 to aid travelers in their conversation about Airbnb.

Airbnb Referrals via Twitter

The first code I shipped at Airbnb was adding a Twitter Card for the referral page. Being a Twitter nerd, I knew how nice it was to share links that are backed by Twitter Cards in order to give viewers more context (and hopefully increase the click-through rate). This is the current experience of sharing an Airbnb referral code on Twitter (via

The highlight text gives the Twitter user a default tweet which they can modify. I like how ours has the dollar amount and a short message.
This Twitter Card shows a title, image, and description for the shared link.

By adding the above Twitter Card, we reassured viewers about the referral link’s authenticity and surrounded the tweet with details which may have been left out of the user-customized message.

Airbnb Listings via Email and Facebook

The first iteration of our new listing share widget. See the current version here:

Earlier this year, we looked at how people were sharing Airbnb listings and realized that most travelers preferred to share via Email and Facebook. So we ran some experiments and ended up altering our sharing widget to focus on Email and Facebook and put everything else in a “More” dropdown. This drove a significant increase in sharing since we molded our product to match people’s intended conversation format.

Airbnb via Facebook Messenger

This US version of the desktop sharing module for Airbnb listings.

One of my personal favorite changes we made in 2015 was adding Facebook Messenger as a prioritized sharing option in front of Facebook timeline sharing. Our experiment results lead us to further tailor our sharing to match a private trip collaboration mindset instead of a mass share to all friends and followers.

Airbnb Listing Photos

A brand new type of sharing introduced in 2015 was the ability to share individual photos of listings. We based our work on a hunch that people might want to share different photos than just the first host-picked photo for a listing. After running a successful experiment, we made each photo shareable through all of our channels so now you can email, message, pin, or even embed any listing photo!

Sharing Airbnb in 2016

On the Growth Team we are always thinking about new ways to help people share the Airbnb experience. Each time we successfully add more metadata to a social share, tune the UI, or craft delightful contextual copy, we enhance digital conversations about Airbnb. Stay tuned for more features and updates in the coming year!

Check out all of our open source projects over at and follow us on Twitter: @AirbnbEng + @AirbnbData



Creative engineers and data scientists building a world where you can belong anywhere.

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store



Creative engineers and data scientists building a world where you can belong anywhere.