Posted by Andrew Krebs-Smith in Word of Mouth Marketing
This week, the Social Folcrum team headed out to the eLuminate Pitch Crowdfunding Conference in New York City. Crowdfunding can be described as raising funds from a large number of people to finance a project or a business. Recently, the term has been used in conjunction with the Internet, leveraging the power and reach of online communities and social media, with the added benefits of being able to quickly launch with low to no start up costs. Platforms such as Kickstarter and IndieGoGo help users simply and easily reach out to their followers to share projects and communicate financial goals.
How can your business utilize this new trend in fundraising? There are numerous platforms for fundraising and equity raising for all types of businesses and scale of projects. Whether you may be looking for investors to raise $500,000 in capital or $2,000 to fund a release of new album, there is probably a community on the internet interested in what you are doing and looking to help fund your dream to reality.
There are three key parts to getting people to fund your project (from a promotional standpoint): (1) customer targeting, (2) communication, and (3) momentum.
Hopefully, if you are at the point where you are raising money, you are convinced that your product/service offers significant benefit to certain audiences. But now you need to find out where those people are! Social media offers many opportunities to reach your target audience. What are these people talking about? Are there keywords that they might use on Twitter that could identify someone as part of this target audience? For example right now we are working for a company that is targeting IT professionals. We use keywords like IT company names to search for bio information on Twitter users. We use text searches such as specific test codes or names to identify people tweeting on these topics. There are many other places to target your audience – Facebook advertising can segment geographically, demographically, and psychographically, and even using specific schools or workplaces. So for our IT professionals, we can target people who read industry magazines (which they like on Facebook) or who like industry influencers. Are there meetups where your audience meets? You can use these groups as an opportunity to meet people and introduce your product or service to them. If you are entering such a community however, ensure that you are not overly promotional. Coming to one meetup just to pitch your business may not be received well by it’s members.
Your main communication goal should be to simply and compellingly convey a strong value proposition to the target audiences you are connected with. This means talking about how your product/service helps them (benefits). This communication should be tailored to the medium in which you are delivering it. For example, if you are advertising on Facebook, you should convey why this product is specifically applicable to them. When we helped an eCommerce high-end fashion site launch, we targeted users that liked specific brands on Facebook, and delivered ads to them touting the products we carried form those brands. However on Twitter the challenge is cutting down tweets to 140 characters, and speaking directly to people in a public venue.
Momentum is a variable that you can control to a certain extent. The overall momentum of your brand will ideally grow beyond that which you control/create, but it starts with community engagement. If you’re a small business with an active Facebook fanpage, you are already ahead of the game. If you don’t have a social media community already established, this is a perfect time to start building one and get people excited about what you are doing. Reaching out to industry influencers is a great way to generate buzz. Bloggers, editors, & industry experts are always dying to know what the up and coming products are and will be the first to share with their followers. Once some online buzz has been generated, it’s a matter of communicating what your project goal is and getting it in front of those who share these interests.
Utilizing Twitter to search for hashtags of key terms is a great way to find this audience; Facebook Fanpages of competitors could also provide some insight as to where your community is online. However you connect to your community, communicating your project in an exciting way is a surefire method to get folks motivated to see your project come to life, and online crowdfunding just makes it that much easier.