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How does a newly launched venture stand out among influencers who post about captivating moments and brands that have an army of content producers and curators, strategists, and marketers on social media?

Adventure.com is a lifestyle travel provider that is not bashful about leaping into social advertising to be seen. A week after its June 2014 launch, the three-person team — now a five person team — bought ads on Facebook to promote its Page for Page Likes and boost its posts for engagement. And the following week, did the same on Twitter. Since air time equals money. The team is careful about managing ad spend because the costs although small in units, can shoot up rapidly.

Building a community is difficult at the onset and organic posts do not have the same potential to be noticed without breadth and momentum thanks to user activity volume and advertising options. “Realistically, if you put up a Twitter page, you are not going to grow that fast these days because there’s so much noise,” acknowledged Andrew Hickey, Content and Social Media Manager at Adventure.com.

When asked about the customer experience with setting up ads, Hickey mentioned that Facebook and Twitter’s interface took some time to learn at first and then it became second nature. As far as ad pricing, Facebook was more economical than Twitter. According to Hickey, Adventure.com spends $0.15-$0.25 per Facebook Page Like based and $0.50-$1.00 per Twitter Follower. The ranges vary due to audience location, time of year, consumer cycle, etc.

“For us, it was less about a numbers game, like ooh we have a lot of followers, it was more about let’s get the audience so our engagement goes up.” They qualify targeting leads based on the quality of comments on camping posts like, “I want to be there,” and “that’s my dream.” The latest brand video was launched on Facebook video ads which had relevant comments from excited fans whereas engagement on Twitter’s Promoted Video is not as great.

Overall, Hickey is happy with what the ads were able to accomplish — roughly 50,000 Facebook Page Likes per month and 3,000 Twitter Followers per month — but the only criticism he had was that Facebook’s customer service was poor. “When I reached out to Twitter, we had no audience, and they were more than willing to hop on the phone with me. I had someone from the Twitter Travel department talk to me for 30 minutes, and again, I’m not some major company like the Travel Channel. They’re treating us at the same level as they would treat Kayak,” admitted Hickey.

By and large, the advertising cost is a function of how well the account is managed.

Of course, the more ad dollars, the larger the community, but if the content isn’t great, the engagement won’t be as high, therefore you may end up paying more than the cost per follower or engagement. According to Twitter Internal, Adventure.com has a 4.36% engagement rate, beating the travel industry average 3.75%. Currently, they rank in the top five under Travel and Tour Providers, with Skift Score of 524, beating STA Travel USA.

Social ads do come at a price, but worth the awareness.

Travel and Tour Providers (Launch year) Skift Score Joined Twitter Twitter Followers Joined Facebook Facebook Followers Joined Instagram Instagram Followers
Viator.com (2007) 701 March 2009 154,000 November 2008 665,000 November 2012 2,400
G Adventures (1990) 686 October 2008 96,000 November 2007 1,055,000 December 2011 25,600
Contiki (1996) 661 November 2008 20,500 February 2008 388,000 November 2011 59,200
Adventure.com (2014) 524 June 2014 11,600 June 2014 198,000 June 2014 2,300
STA Travel US (1970) 501 June 2008 183,000 November 2007 820,400 August 2011 4,800

Source: Skift

Photo Credit: Still from its brand video, "Venture Out." Adventure.com / YouTube