Last week we covered everything you would need to do to prepare for the actual launch of your crowdfunding campaign. Now that you have launched, it may be tempting to sit back and let the Internet take over, but it’s not that simple. This installment is all about what you should be aiming to do while your campaign is live.
The gloves come off from the moment you press the launch button. There’s no turning back now! It’s do or die!
If you have generated enough of a buzz before actually launching your campaign, you should see quite a few donations within the first couple of days. In very general terms (and all projects are different) the first few days will have a lot of donations as your project shows up on the radar. If you are lucky enough, your campaign may begin to ‘trend’ on your crowdfunding platform. This means that your project will show up on the homepage of your crowdfunding service and that means more eyes on your project, and more potential donations. This is precisely why the pre-launch campaign is important for the success of your project. Without the right amount of ‘buzz’, your campaign may launch, and be dead in the water.
Every decent crowdfunding platform also maintains it’s own blog. These blog feature remarkable campaigns, whether they’re incredibly popular, have a video worth watching, or have unique perks and rewards. Depending on the platform, these blogs are fairly well read. Some of the platforms even have a community of ‘philanthropists’ who keep up with these blogs and pledge to those campaigns that they feel confident about investing in. Although, I wouldn’t count on these kind of ‘angel’ investors to fund your whole campaign, but that shouldn’t stop you from aiming to be featured on your platforms blog.
The shape of a Campaign
In general terms, the first few days will be the most hectic in terms of people donating to your cause. This is usually followed by a downturn in pledges for a while. I’m not saying people will stop paying attention to your cause. Everyone who has pledged now has a vested interest in your success! Pretty cool, right? However, you can expect to see a lull in activity during the middle of your campaign. Don’t worry though! Everything is alright! Campaigns usually see a mini-surge of activity towards the end of the campaign, especially if the target hasn’t yet been met. It is important to work your campaign, especially in the middle lull that a lot of campaigns experience.
Put your followers to work!
Those people who contribute first are most likely going to be friends, parents, other relations and die-hard (with a vengeance) fans. These are exactly the people who you can be the most valuable in creating momentum for your project. I spoke in part four about including a ‘tiny’ URL for people to share your campaign easily. Why should it be a tiny URL? So people using Twitter will be able to spread the word about your project. URLs for crowdfunding campaign pages can easily reach 90-100 characters, depending on how long your page title is. That makes it difficult for Twitter users to say very much about your project. Make it easy instead. Some platforms (most notably Kickstarter and IndieGoGo) include tiny URLs automatically on every project they have, but that shouldn’t stop you from including it in all of your updates (we’ll talk about these soon) and correspondence of any kind with your potential backers. You should make it as easy and appealing as possible for others to share your campaign with their social network.
Many of the crowdfunding sites offer a service that sends an email to every new contributor that you may or may not be able to edit. If you can, definitely edit its contents to come in line with the tone of your video and blurb. I would also strongly suggest, maybe even insist, that you send some kind of correspondence to every single backer. Even a thank you goes a long way. People can tell when they receive an auto-responder email. However, a personalized email (or Facebook message or Tweet) will be appreciated much more. You can even ask them personally to share the campaign on whatever social networks they use. I can’t stress this enough!
Put your follower’s followers to work!
Use your backers’ network of contacts for your own benefit. Include the tiny URL again in the thank you email that you are sending them. Make it as easy as possible for them to help you! (I keep saying this, but it is important. If it’s not easy for them to help you out, then chances are they won’t do it) You don’t have to be pushy or too insistent when asking for their help. All you need to do is let them know how much you would appreciate them spreading the word to their friends. Make sure and thank them if they do. Always remember, ENGAGE, ENGAGE, ENGAGE!!! The more people who share your campaign, the more eyes are on your project and the more potential backers you will have and the more successful you are likely to be.
Timing is Everything (again…)
Post or tweet about your campaign when the most people are active and online. This will be individual to you because nobody has the exact same social network that you do. Now you could conduct a real-time survey of your Facebook page and monitor how many of your friends are online at any given time, but that would take a long time and probably be boring as hell. Instead, take advantage of all the research that’s been done in the area of social media traffic times. According to this, and many other sources:
The best times to post on Twitter are between 1 and 3PM Monday to Thursday.
Posting after 8PM and on weekends leads to significantly less eyes on your posts and less people clicking through to your crowdfunding page.
Timezone Case Study
Things can get complicated if you have significant chunks of your social network living in different timezones. For example, I have lot of friends and contacts who live in on Australia’s East Coast, but I also have a lot of friends and contacts who live in America’s Eastern Timezone. With no daylight savings in either timezone, there is a 14-hour time difference. I have found the times when the most people in my social network are active, are between 3PM and 5PM Australian Eastern Time Tuesday to Thursday. That makes it 1AM – 3AM in Eastern Time, in the U.S.
Now 1AM is not exactly a primetime for Facebook use, but I believe there are a few reasons why this is my personal best time on Facebook. Firstly, I lived in Australia for 19 years before I moved to America and I have lived in America for two, so naturally, I have more friends and contacts in Australia. The other part of the equation is the make-up of the people I know in each country. In Australia, I know a fairly good cross-section of people in society, many of whom have regular jobs and get on their social media at ‘regular’ times. However, the majority of the contacts I have in America are younger musicians who don’t keep regular hours. It’s not uncommon for them to be up at 1AM on Facebook.
Everyone’s situation is different. Figure out when your best time to post is. Test some times you think might work. If most of your contacts are active at 5AM, then post around then and see what kind of response you get.
Try and do everything you can to sneak into some kind of traditional media source (or sources). Not only will it drive more people to your campaign page, (make sure the URL is visible) but it will add authority to your campaign and by extension, your project itself. Will Fisher was able to get his crowdfunding message into newspapers in his hometown of Truro, which raised awareness and Will’s credibility. Anna Morsett was also able to arrange two interviews to correspond with the launch of her crowdfunding campaign and expose two entirely different audiences to her funding page.
Depending on your audience, having exposure in traditional media may be essential. If your potential backers aren’t particularly tech-savvy, or a little older and wary of giving out credit card information over the Internet, then exposure in trusted local print media will ease those concerns and potentially bring you a new stream of people willing to pledge. Most print publications today are also online and will publish the same articles on their websites. You can get the links to the online versions, spread them around on Facebook and Twitter, and use them to get more people reading about what you’re doing.
Ride the Bike
You’ve got to ride the bike, the bike’s not going to ride itself…you have to do some pedaling – Kacie Anning
You have to work your campaign and make sure you are reaching the right people with the right message. Never forget that your campaign needs you for it to be successful. One of the more important parts of how you run your campaign is crafting updates for your backers and those who could potentially back you, but that is the subject of the next installment.
Join the Conversation
Hope you enjoyed this week’s installment. We’re getting pretty close to the end of the series.
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Next week it’s all about the updates so come back in a week’s time.