Influencer Q&A with a startup builds a community on Twitter

Friday, 31 October 2014

When travel and lifestyle website (@Adventurecom) launched this past June, the three-person team behind it knew that getting the word out to avid explorers would be essential to their success.

Twitter came to mind immediately as a way to generate awareness, according to Andrew Hickey (@andrewmhickey), who manages’s online content and marketing. “There was no doubt we were going to use Twitter,” he said. “It was just a question of how much.”

Five months in, the answer is: a lot. @Adventurecom, which offers customers personalized travel itineraries and will sell small group adventure tours and experiences via an online marketplace starting next month, now boasts more than 11,000 followers. The startup has used Twitter not only to reach its target audience, but also to increase site traffic and build brand engagement. Twitter even helped the team recruit a freelance photojournalist.

We spoke with Hickey to learn more.

@TwitterAds: One of your company goals is to build a tribe of travel enthusiasts. Can you tell us more about the adventure tour target audience?

@andrewmhickey: We’re looking for outdoor enthusiasts, naturally curious people who enjoy exploring other cultures. Basically, anyone who wants to get out there and see the world. And we’re not just going for the extreme adventurer who climbs mountains. If to you, adventure means jumping off a bridge in New Zealand, great, but adventure can also mean trying a new cuisine.

@TwitterAds: How do you use Tweets to engage this audience?

@andrewmhickey: Photos are big for us. We put out beautiful photos, and users love it. We had a Promoted Tweet with a photo about 15 must-see mountains around the world. Within 24 hours, it received 298 Retweets and 205 Favorites. That was massive engagement for us.

We also use hashtags to reach new followers on Twitter. For example, adding #photography to the Tweet above enabled us to catch the attention of the photography enthusiast community on Twitter.

Finally, we just launched a Promoted Video, and are looking forward to seeing how it performs.

@TwitterAds: How do you decide which photos and trips to feature in your Tweets?

@andrewmhickey: We focus on unique destinations. Our audience isn’t going to Disneyland. They want to climb Kilimanjaro, explore Costa Rica or take a once in a lifetime trip to Antarctica. They’ve checked a lot off their bucket list, and our job is to come in and share new destinations with them.

We also like to feature photos from users when possible. We have a weekly photo assignment. Every Monday, we announce a theme, and ask people to participate by Tweeting relevant photos. We reward our favorite Tweet with a prize from that week’s partner. We have seen some great entries from amateur photographers to professionals.

@TwitterAds: Tell us about your Twitter chats.

@andrewmhickey: We did themed travel chats in July, August, September and October. We choose timely topics that will click with our audience, from urban travel to haunted adventures, and we’ve had brands such as 500px (@500px) and BBC Travel (@BBC_Travel) co-host as well as influential writers, bloggers and photographers.

@TwitterAds: We hear you even used Twitter to find your newest photojournalist?

@andrewmhickey: That’s right. We put out a call on Twitter and other marketing platforms to find a new freelance photojournalist, and altogether, we received more than 9,000 entries from around the world.

@TwitterAds: How is Twitter different from other marketing platforms?

@andrewmhickey: Twitter gives us engagement, and lets us show our personality. Thanks to Twitter we can chat with thousands of people daily all over the world about travel, photography, music, new gear and many other topics. They can get to know our brand and feel like they know someone at, not just a marketing robot. It’s just a different type of interaction than you can get anywhere else.

@TwitterAds: What would you recommend to brands interested in getting started with Twitter?

@andrewmhickey: Once your site is ready and you know your audience, it’s time to get started on Twitter. Be open to learning about new communities along the way. For example, I wasn’t expecting the photography and tech communities to be as interested in our site as they were, but they’ve really taken a liking to us.

Next, use hashtags. Putting #photography in our Tweets has helped us build a lot of steam. But be judicious. Five, six hashtags or more – it starts to look like spam.

Finally, don’t go too crazy at first. Limit your Tweets, and take the time to carefully construct each one. It’s not rocket science, but there’s a big difference between sending Tweets without images nonstop, and sending an occasional well-written Tweet with an appropriate hashtag and a beautiful photo.