Social media and crowdfunding go together like a horse and carriage yet as much as the horsepower of social media has sent many crowdfunding campaigns viral and straight into the crowdfunding hall of fame; if not done right – social media will at best ignore you.
Since the rise of social media tools like Twitter Marketing have made it so much easier to connect with people who are into crowdfunding, it seems like some folks are forgetting that there are real people behind those Twitter handles and Facebook names, each with their own wants and needs and no desire to be spammed.
Before there was social media, most people actually met face to face in pubs, at gatherings, conferences and other venues, to do what now largely happens on social media. I think you’d agree that just because there is a now a new venue doesn’t mean the rules of interaction have changed. No one in their right mind would walk up to a complete stranger in a public space asking them to cold turkey to support their crowdfunding campaign. Ludicrous right? Befriending that stranger first, showing interest in what they do and building a connection before delivering your pitch is what seems the most normal thing to do, at least in the offline world. Yet online, maybe at times under the pressure of the crowdfunding clock ticking and the false sense of anonymity of being behind a keyboard, many forget that the same rules that apply in the real world also apply online.
Here are the most common mistakes I have observed people make on social media, in no particular order since each one has the potential to kill your efforts if ignored.
- Fail to Build a Strong Enough Social Network Before Launch
There are no people on social media waiting for the launch of your campaign. There, I’ve said it. Please don’t kill the messenger and while tools like Twitter Marketing can help you to quickly and effortlessly identify crowdfunding supporters, it is still up to you to connect, build a relationship with each individual by favoriting and retweeting some of their tweets over the course of the months and weeks building up to your campaign. Social media is all about sharing, you build networks by connecting with people who could be interested in your campaign but rather than simply delivering your pitch, you scratch their back for a while by favoriting, retweeting, sharing and commenting on what they post.Sorry, there are no short cuts as a solid following on social media cannot be built in a couple of weeks. If you’re just starting out on Twitter, it will take 4-6 months to build an audience that can be activated for your campaign once you’re ready to launch. When do you know if your social media following is big enough and you’re ready to launch? You can use Krowdster’s Social Capital Gauge to measure the size of your Twitter and Facebook following and find out how much other campaigns with similar social reach have raised.
- Connect With the Wrong People on Social Media
How does one connect with the “right crowd” on social media? Who are the people you want to follow you and ultimately support you? Who are those most likely to become your backers? This is a topic of much confusion, frustration and misled efforts. Does it work to go on Twitter and search for “crowdfunding” to find people who are likely to support your campaign because Twitter returns them in their search results? No. Why not? Simply because Twitter returns search results based on keywords in handle, name, bio and such. This means you’ll get the same search results, showing the same crowdfunding platforms, consultants and ancillary service providers who everyone else also goes after.Crowdfunding professionals are very unlikely to support any crowdfunding campaign simply because that’s not what they do because they get flooded with hundreds of these requests per week. For example, if your campaign is about raising money for developing a 3D printer that will blow everything else out of the water, you’d start building a Twitter account, Facebook account and maybe a Tumblr account around the topic and start following the influencers in that space. Google has a free Keyword Planner that will allow you to find keywords around 3D printing that you can use to search. You can use these keywords to search Twitter, Facebook and Twitter Marketing to get lists of users in your space, people interested in 3D printing.
- Ask for Sharing or Money Right Away
Absolutely nothing is worse than asking a stranger (on social media) to either share your campaign or make a donation right away. Think about how you’d react to a pitch from someone you’ve never heard of and you’ll agree. There is no short cut to crowdfunding success on social media without putting in the time and effort. These are relationships that need to be built way ahead of the time you are planning to cash in on them. Social media does make this process faster and easier than real life and even if you already have a decent social media following, do not ask them for money right away either.Remember, social media is all about sharing, and sharing your campaign preview and asking your network for feedback will yield invaluable feedback. Most crowdfunding platforms let you share a preview link with your supporters and that’s an excellent way of gauging your audience’s interest way before you even ask their financial support.Because this is a mistake I see time and time again: Do not ask for sharing or financially contribution to your campaign right away, build a relationship first as described above to avoid shooting yourself in the foot.
- Underutilize Your Social Networks
Every second, on average, around 6,000 tweets are tweeted on Twitter according to internetlivestats.com which means Twitter is a never ending waterfall of tweets. If your audience isn’t online right when you tweet, they are very likely to miss it as your tweet gets pushed down their timeline. This means in order to reach all of your audience on Twitter you have to tweet several times per day, every day. On Twitter more really is more, don’t feel like you’ll be annoying your audience because you tweet 6-8 times a day, spreading your message across 24hrs, you’ll be reaching a maximum percentage of your audience.For Facebook I recommend posting no more than once every 1-3 days depending on the size of your audience, post more or less frequently. Key on Facebook and Twitter is to keep messages fresh, report on latest campaign goals and stretch goals. If you’re afraid to upset your social network by asking them for support, you are either thinking about it wrong or your idea isn’t good enough. If you feel ashamed to ask for money, don’t do it. Crowdfunding is not about asking money, it is about creating momentum and support for a great idea or cause. If you think your idea is not quite ready or deep inside you feel it is wishful thinking – don’t do it. Otherwise give your campaign the time it takes to build a network of supporters, then own it, go 100% in, make updates fun and entertaining. Don’t ask for money, invite them to be part of the next big thing and make it worth their while to not only connect with you on social media but also to support and share you idea.
The bottom is that in this day and age, crowdfunding is no longer a novelty, it is a truly crowded space out there and in order to stand out and get support you have to get your social media game on.