5 Ways to Build a Crowdfunding Community with Social Media
If you’re crowdfunding your business concept, or are planning to, you’ll need to squeeze as much as possible out of the 3 F’s: fools, family and friends. You’ll meet with former colleagues and business partners, email your friends and share your pitch with your (extended) family. However, at some point, their money will stop flowing – great-uncle Bob’s pension is only so big – and your campaign will hit a plateau unless there’s a wider community you can reach out to via social media and other digital channels.
Here’s how to start building your own community, so when the time comes you can rely on them to fund your start-up!
- Create your accounts
You may laugh, but the amount of times I’ve heard “Yeah, we still need to create a Twitter account,” or “Is social media really necessary?” is enough to make any social media marketeer have nightmares. The main social media networks (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+) are a must-have for any young company. Identify which networks your target audience are most active on – search for established communities on related topics – and focus on those.
Do it now: identify the 5 most used social media networks for your target audience and set up personal and company accounts. Always link them to your website and crowdfunding campaign with a strong call-to-action. Make a list of 5-10 established communities that should know about your company.
- A separate message for each network
Start with Twitter. Here, messages are shorter – 140 characters or less – but must still convey your core values and reason for existence. This will help you to find the essence of your brand on social media. After that, consider the different user groups on each social media network and alter your target audience accordingly. For example: Twitter is used heavily on-the-go by people who want to be updated quickly; LinkedIn users are typically professionals with an interest in advancing their skills or knowledge for their own careers.
Do it now: in 140 characters or less, make it clear why your company is unique, why you have a genuine reason for existence, and why people should care. Make a list of industries and communities that you want to target on each social media network, and adjust your message strategically.
- Make a content calendar
So, you have accounts on all the relevant networks and you have a core message that’s tailored for each network. It’s time to start posting! There are two types of messaging: general and specialised. General messages can be interesting for everyone. They might be based around free events, meet & greets with your company, business milestones (like growing your team or attracting new investors). These are things most people will see as signs of progress in your crowdfunding campaign, and are generally promotional.
Specialised messages are targeted at a particular group of people, and can be non-promotional. For example, if a larger investor with a strong background in sustainable ventures joins your campaign you should emphasise this to people with an interest in the environment and sustainability. The content of the message might be similar to a newsflash (“look what happened”) but can also be informative and less promotional. It might feature a unique insight, interesting article, interview etc. The key is that it digs a little deeper than “check this out”. This kind of content requires you to share your opinion, findings or experience with a specific target audience, and should make up the majority of your social media content. Keep your community engaged between newsworthy business milestones with specialised, targeted messaging.
Do it now: think about potential upcoming business milestones such as events, competitions, new employees etc. Bear in mind that not every milestone is relevant for every social media network. Then come up with 3 or 4 topics that each target audience across your social media networks will find interesting. List 3 article titles per topic, mix those in with the business milestones, and you have the foundations of a content calendar.
- Grow your networks by following others
If you’re just starting out on social media it can seem impossible to gain your first followers. Start with your immediate environment: friends, family and colleagues will be happy to share your posts and follow your accounts. But then what?
Make sure links to your social media accounts are clearly visible on your site, in the signature of your e-mail and in your company mailings. It sounds obvious, but you should be sure on how you want people to follow you on each social network. You’ll want people to like your company Facebook page, and perhaps connect with you personally on LinkedIn. Then start following other accounts in your industry, preferably those which seem responsive and/or have a good follow-back ratio.
Do it now: invite people you already know to follow you. After that, identify 50 relevant accounts to like/follow for each social network. Add the same people on different channels!
- Stop talking about yourself for a while
It always surprises me how often entrepreneurs forget to say thanks on social media. It’s one of the most basic ways of growing your reach and followers. Did someone or something inspire you today? Did they teach you something important that you want to share? Did they help you somehow? Then tell them! Don’t forget to tag the relevant person or organisation (company, institution, media outlet etc.) in the post.
Why? It’s a positive message that shows your network you’re human, and not above learning new things or giving thanks. What’s more, it is often a major compliment for the person or organisation you’re referring to, which makes them likely to share it with their own network.
Do it now: think of articles, videos or other content you’ve appreciated recently. Who made the content? Are they on social media? If so, say thanks. Even better, include what you learnt or how the content helped you to improve your company and/or crowdfunding campaign.
Ludwine Dekker was recently named as one of the top 19 crowdfunding experts worldwide by Inc. magazine.