Crowd funding is no longer the buzzword it was in 2006, as social media has undeniably taken over and changed the way we interact and connect online. Gone are the days when discussion forums were the go to tool for getting numerous opinions. Crowd funding by definition is “the practice of funding a project or venture by raising many small amounts of money from a large number of people, typically via the Internet.”

This is basically asking strangers around the world to help you get your project or campaign off the ground by financing it as a collective. Not only does this mean you’ll have the necessary capital to get going, but you will also have peace of mind. Through this indirect market research, you’ll know that your service or product is believed in by your community of backers.

The average person has 5 social media accounts, meaning you have a few options on how to get your message across. All you need is a quick update on any platform and you will be flooded with an array of responses from your ‘friends’ or ‘followers’, catapulting your crowd funding plans into the stratosphere. The next step is knowing how to harness the power of those platforms to bolster your crowd funding efforts. However there are dos and don’ts when it comes to crowdfunding to ensure that you aren’t seen as taking people for a ride, and to ensure long term success beyond the initial campaign.

Build a good foundation before the launch

You need a great network of people you have already been sharing, connecting and engaging with online before the launch of the campaign, as 30% of your donations come from people you know. This could take months so make sure you are ready to put in the work. There is no short cut to a strong social following of engaged users.
Even more important is to ensure that you have the ‘right’ kind of followers. Through a great social media strategy, you can discover people who have shared interests and will therefore be more likely to support your cause. Then you’ll need to know when you have ‘enough’ of a foundation.

Don’t rely on one platform

It’s very easily to rely on one platform, thinking your Facebook friends know you well and will therefore support you. Pick the right platform based on where your audience is, where you receive the most engagement and where you will be able to monitor without disrupting your daily life. Rather than using your personal profile (which could get spam-like towards your friends and family), start a separate Fan Page for your campaign and get people to like and follow it for updates. You can also have a separate page for yourself. This way people can see the woman behind the campaign as it will probably be one of many projects you undertake.

Content is king

You need consistent and engaging content in order to stay current and pull in the crowds. Your copy should be punchy, to the point and shareable in order for the word to spread. Use rich imagery where you can, as well as other content types e.g. infographics, videos, podcasts etc. Share updates and milestones in order to keep the excitement going. Keeping content consistent and frequent will ensure you stay top of mind.

Don’t jump the gun

Asking for money right away makes you seem greedy and desperate, two words that can taint your campaign. How you word your requests also matters, no one wants to feel like you are begging them to send money your way. Refrain from “Please give 30 rand to my campaign.” Instead go for subtle ways of encouraging support such as, “Could you be my next backer?” Also listing the amount you require in your update might seem daunting to someone who only has a little to give, so rather post a link to your landing page where people can decide for themselves.

At the end of the day, even if you don’t reach your required amount through crowd funding, you still have a great community of people who believe in your ideas. Don’t ditch them, instead thank everyone for their efforts and keep doing what hooked them in the first place (consistency, remember?). You never know when your next bright idea may come and you need them again.

Have you run a successful crowd funding campaign?
Tiisetso Gama is a South African digital marketing professional, freelance writer and blogger living in the hustle and bustle of Johannesburg. A psychology major and budding entrepreneur, she is passionate about natural hair, makeup, reading and women empowerment, apparent in her blog Bereka Mosadi. For more articles like this, join the SLA community here
Photo Credit: Dreamstime

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