Welcome to the first in an on-going series of blogs on using social media to boost your crowdfunding campaign.
The crowdfunding phenomenon is blowing up – people all over the world pledged over $2.7 billion in 2012 to support independent makers realize their dreams, with that number expected to nearly double this year.
Chances are that you’ve seen crowdfunding projects pop up in your Facebook or Twitter feeds as friends spread the word to help raise funds for cool new comics, games, gadgets and art projects. You might have even pledged to a campaign on Kickstarter or Indiegogo in exchange for a personalized reward.
But what if you have a project of your own, and are developing a crowdfunding campaign to raise funds for it? We’ll start our blog series by digging into one of the most important components to building buzz and driving pledges so that your campaign has a better shot at making it big.
Social media is absolutely critical to the success of any reward-based crowdfunding campaign. Whether a retro computer game, a sleek bicycle accessory or a farm-to-fork food truck, every upstart creative team needs a big fan base to reach its fundraising goals. Even before campaigns launch, resourceful project creators rally their personal networks via social media and email to ensure a critical mass of people are already primed to pledge to their causes.
Of course, the most important key to the success of any campaign is a compelling concept. A huge social network will only take you so far if your project doesn’t resonate or feel “real” enough. But let’s assume you have an incredible idea, and are ready to share it with the world. No matter how amazing your offering might be, a pre-planned, focused social media strategy is still crucial in ensuring you reach your funding goals.
On Kickstarter, some fans might stumble upon your project when just browsing the site, and you might even get lucky enough to be featured on the platform’s front page, but for most successfully-funded projects, the bulk of pledges will come from social sharing. In fact, an analysis of bit.ly links to top Kickstarter campaigns reveals that Facebook and Twitter consistently drive the most referral traffic, while direct links from email are equally as important. (Google+, LinkedIn and YouTube do not consistently drive as much traffic for most campaigns.) Clearly, the campaigns that drive the most sharing on top social media sites have the best chance of success.
Referral sites for “Ukiyo-e Heroes”, the top-grossing art project on Kickstarter.
When big-name makers like film director Spike Lee, recording artist Amanda Palmer or designer Yves Behar are involved in a crowdfunding project, it’s easy to see how people will find out about it. But what about when you’re just a guy in a garage with a cool invention but seemingly no connections? Your personal social networks will act as the backbone for your marketing strategy.
An April 2013 research report on crowdfunding motivators suggests that altruism is a key reason people donate to campaigns. With that in mind, the easiest way to boost social shares it to simply ask. Your friends, family and supporters are keen on seeing your project succeed, and many of them are primed to help beyond just financial support.
Remember to include calls to action asking fans to share your campaign on social media in each communication you have with them. You can even go one step further by directing fans to a custom landing page with buttons for easy sharing on Facebook and Twitter.
Think about the concept of “surround sound”, which is when a potential campaign supporter hears about your project from multiple sources – this could be from social media posts, comments on a message board, mentions in daily conversation, news articles or a combination thereof. Look to groups of friends and communities that share the same interests, locations or other identifying features, and encourage fans to talk about your project among those groups.
Once you’ve considered strategies for motivating your fans to share your project across the web, you can begin planning a broader strategy for promoting your project on social media. Check back Wednesday, September 4, when we’ll dig into the types of content and messaging that resonate on Facebook for crowdfunding campaigns.