“Don’t be afraid to throw your PledgeMe page out there…at anyone. You have nothing to lose by telling people about it and you'd be surprised at the amount and variety of people that are interested and will contribute.”
What matters in crowdfunding is your ability to convince your crowd to pledge. OK. We know that sounds obvious, but it truly is half the battle. There’s no ‘crowd in the cloud’ browsing PledgeMe, looking for places to put their money. You have to ask people to support you. If no one knows about your great idea, no one will be able to fund it. Involving your crowd in the planning phase is a great way to get them excited and ready to pledge and share by the time you launch.
We all have crowds. We have friends, family and fans who can pledge. The challenge is how you convince your crowd to pledge. The wrong way is to send the same copy/paste generic message to all your Facebook friends. The right way is to post human, engaging and quirky updates about our progress on your Facebook profile. That’s just one example.
Don’t do the “hard sell”, but invite your crowd to participate. Here are some ways to get your crowd involved:
1. Pledge Drive: This is when your crowdfunding team comes together for a limited time in the same room with the goal of raising enough money to reach (all of or part of) your funding goal. Think it like a good ole’ fashioned telethon. Only your team is using a plethora of 21st century communication tools. Make sure they have plenty of food, water and wifi! We believe the combination of a limited timeframe, close proximity and funding goal is an excellent motivator. And fun! It motivates your team to perform better than if they worked independently.
2. Email: The power of your words – Email 20-30 close friends and family. Be personal. We recommend that you send the emails to 20-30 people separately. It must be personalised to them. It cannot be the same generic copy/paste email message. Ask them to support you by pledging whatever they can afford. Teach them how to share your project. Telling a neighbour about your project is just as good as a share on Facebook, if Facebook isn’t their thing.
3. Phone: The power of your voice - Ring 20-30 close friends and family. The phone is powerful because it’s hard to say no on the phone, especially if the person knows you and your phone manner is polite, warm and friendly. Don’t apply any pressure. Be light and breezy, but honest about why you’re calling up front. Hopefully, you also talked to those people during your planning phase, so you can update them on progress and not just be ‘that person’ who only calls when they need something.
4. Video chat: A video chat is powerful because they can hear your voice and see your face. Screenshare features on tools like Skype and Zoom allow you to demonstrate how to pledge. And you can record the video as a tutorial to send to those friends and family members who are less tech savvy.
5. Text: Urgency - Text and IMs should be used sparingly, not as spam. The recipient may look forward to receiving a text from you, but then get disappointed when they discover you’re trying to “sell” something. If that’s how you usually communicate with someone, then they’ll probably prefer a text to a phone call. Or you could text the campaign link as a follow up to a phone conversation. When a friend or family member promised to pledge, send a text or IM as a reminder - but make it personal.
6. Networking: Attend events. Set up coffee dates. Go to parties. Whatever gets you in front of your crowd. Use the opportunity to tell people about your campaign. We find that the appropriate time to pitch is when somebody asks you “What have you been up to?” or “What are you working on?” Keep your reply short and sweet. Don’t bore them. Raise their curiosity enough so that they ask more questions about your campaign. It’s better to be asked about your campaign than to have to “sell” it.
The purpose of using social media is to tell the story of your campaign. However, to tell your story effectively using social media, we recommend that you create engaging content for specific social media platforms. That means tailoring your posts for the platform - don’t cross post. You don’t need to use everything. The best platform is the one where your crowd already is - now isn’t the time to try to build a following on a new platform.
Be strategic, but tell your story. Don’t spam, but also don’t just share once and hope for the best. Make it a journey over the life of the campaign (and beyond!). You want to inspire your crowd to pledge, and then share your campaign with their crowd too.
1. Facebook: 80% of New Zealand’s online population visit Facebook. New Zealand has the highest proportion of the online population who visit Facebook compared to Australia (74%), the USA (69%), and the UK (68%). So, it makes sense to leverage New Zealand’s most popular social network to promote your campaign. You’ll probably get better organic reach from your personal page than a dedicated project one, especially if your project one is new. Send personalised messages to your friends. Post updates to your campaign, post a link to your campaign from your Facebook profile.
2. Twitter: Due to the real time nature of Twitter, it’s a powerful tool for creating urgency. Use it wisely. For example, at the start of your campaign, you can create buzz by anticipating the launch of your campaign. The goal is to arouse enough curiosity about what you’re launching and why you’re launching it. Near the end of your campaign, remind your Twitter followers how much you still need to raise and how much time you have left. The final countdown may just convince that apathetic person to pledge at the last minute.
3. LinkedIn: Post a link to your campaign from your LinkedIn profile in the same way you would on Facebook. The difference with LinkedIn is its professional community. So, it might be a better fit for campaigns linked to your career or that might be attractive to entrepreneurs and business people. You could also target your campaign to specialised LinkedIn groups or particular companies. A fleshed out LinkedIn profile can help establish credibility and inspire those people who are not sure about you to pledge.
4. Instagram: Gorgeous Instagram photos and videos are a great way of updating your crowd on your progress or showing your gratitude. It’s also a good way to show off the human side of your campaign. Find a visual way of saying “Thanks!” Post a photo to says thanks to a group of pledgers or to celebrate a milestone in the campaign. Or, use Instagram video to tell a story about how your idea will make a difference.
5. Snapchat: Snapchat gets laughed off as the “sexting” app, but it’s the only app that almost guarantees attention. Because the recipient has mere seconds to view the photo or image, the recipient can’t help but look. And Snapchat tells you if the recipient has opened the snap or not. Add text, filters or doodle on your snaps. Snaps are only temporary so this is an opportunity to be silly or quirky. Or, use Snapchat stories to give your crowd exclusive updates.
6. Tumblr: You could use Tumblr as a campaign blog. Post little pieces of content that tell the story of your campaign. Post funny animated .gifs. Post interviews with your team mates. Post links to media mentions. Post amusing anecdotes. Open up your ask box to start a dialogue with pledgers.
1. Press Releases: Your goal is to gain media attention and pick up from print, television, and web outlets like your local paper or ONE News. The exposure from this media attention can increase your likelihood of gaining new pledges. Think of media as a giant lever. If you have a small crowd or you’ve successfully leveraged your crowd already, then you need to find a media outlet with a bigger crowd than you, and successfully leverage that. A good strategy is to send targeted press releases to media outlets drawing attention to the parts of your campaign that would be interesting to that media outlet’s target audience.
2. Blogs: Make friends with bloggers. You should consider creating an electronic press kit containing all the materials (high res images, quotes, and statistics) that make it easy for a blogger to blog about you. You want them to include a link to your campaign and/or embed your pitch video. A mention or shoutout on a blog is great, but the objective should be to drive more traffic and attention to the campaign, where people can pledge of course.