Using Updates in Your Crowdfunding Campaign – The Musician’s Crowdfunding Manifesto: Part Eight

The Ultimate Penultimate

It’s the second-last installment. Last week, I was talking all about the things to do when you’ve launched your crowdfunding campaign. I had considered merging this installment and the previous one, but I felt like it would have made the post too long. So this week, it’s all about crowdfunding campaign updates.

Are You Up To Date?

All the good crowdfunding sites offer the ability to update your backers. When this happens, an email is sent to everyone who has pledged to your campaign so far. The updates also appear on your crowdfunding page. Common updates look something like, “Wow, 20% of our goal in the first 24 hours!” or “Just reached the halfway mark, only $2000 to go!” or “Only 3 more days to be a part of (insert project here)”. You could use “Big thanks to (Backer X) who just pledged $200! Thanks so much!” Be careful using this last one as some people may want to keep their pledge amount anonymous. Just ask permission before you go shouting it to the world. Of course, if you reach your target goal, tell people!

The Content of Your Content

What should you say in your updates? Most importantly, THANK PEOPLE! They are funding your dream album/tour/whatever. They deserve some gratitude, so don’t be afraid to thank people emphatically! It will not go unnoticed. If you don’t ever mention a word of thanks, then that will probably be noticed and perhaps frowned upon. You don’t want to alienate the people who are helping you on the road to success, or worse, alienate the people who haven’t backed you yet. You want to embrace your backers and celebrate them for what they are helping you do.

I talked in part five about rewarding your backers with content. Updates are the perfect opportunity to do this. Give your backers exclusive ‘backers only’ content. Maybe it could be a demo of one of the songs on the new album. Maybe it could be some footage of yourself in the studio recording. As I mentioned in part five, Will Fisher released a mastered version of the first track of his album during his campaign and got a great response from his backers. (It was a private update: more on that down below) Kacie Anning (publicly) released four short teaser scenes from her series that increased ‘audience engagement’. That’s exactly what you are trying to do with your campaign and these updates. There is really no limit to what you can include in your updates. Just make sure you keep a consistent message from your video and your blurb and keep it positive!

Video is also a great way of updating people on your progress. Most platforms will allow you to embed YouTube or Vimeo links in the body of your update. This is an ideal way to continue connecting and engaging with your backers. These update videos do not have to be held to the same standard as your official campaign video. They can be just you talking into your webcam (although please make sure we can see and hear you properly).

Another way to increase audience engagement is to actually include your backers in the updates themselves. I was turned on to David Sosnow through Anna Morsett of Yet Cut Breath. Sosnow created a Kickstarter page for Loomi Lights, a kind of modular light design concept. The Kickstarter campaign was wildly successful. Sosnow and the team behind Loomi Lights made their backers and potential backers part of the campaign. Sosnow asked friends and backers for ideas for what they would do with their highly customizable lights. They were all submitted via YouTube and Sosnow compiled them and posted in a public update on the Kickstarter page. You can see what I mean here.

This is all about engaging your backers and potential backers. Seeing this update will do different things depending on whether you had backed this project or not. If you had pledged, then the effect would be one of reassurance. If all of these other people are motivated enough to make a video to put on YouTube about how they would customize their Loomi, then surely the campaign is headed for success, right? If you hadn’t yet pledged support, then seeing how passionate these people were about a lighting fixture would help push them to the edge of donating. In either case, the campaign wins. This update was made public so that everyone could see it, regardless of whether they had supported the project or not. It was a perfect example of how you can directly involve your supporters in your campaign. However, not all updates should be made public.

Public or Private?

Depending on your chosen platform, you may have the option to make your updates public or just for backers. Use your discretion on what you make available to whom. Something like a super positive “We just cracked the halfway mark” update should be made public. That way, the general public will see your campaign is looking good and likely to succeed. That may be just the kind of persuasion they need to donate. Social proof is a powerful thing. The more you can make it seem like ‘everyone’s doing it’, the better.

Exclusive content and things that people will find value in, like those behind the scenes footage and exclusive pre-release cuts should be reserved for those who have donated. They have ‘earned’ these extra goodies by pledging to your cause. It’s like an exclusive club and you have to try and make membership in that club as desirable as possible. While non-backers will not have direct access to these ‘backers only’ updates, they will be able to read the title of the update, i.e. the headline. Make your exclusive update headlines matter. Instead of “New photos and video”, try “Never-before-seen behind the scenes footage and images from our time in the studio”. See the difference? One seems infinitely more valuable than the other. Make the exclusive content as valuable as you can. This may just persuade more people to opt in to your campaign.

Doubling Down

Remember that ‘mini-surge’ of pledges before the end of a campaign? Well that will probably happen naturally if you’ve done your work, and awareness of your project is high. It never hurts to keep pushing your project until the very end.

If you’re getting towards the tail end of your campaign and your funding goal hasn’t been met yet, it is the perfect time to double your efforts in getting new people to back you. Keep doing all the things you’ve been doing. Send an update saying how much time is left in the campaign and how much more money you need before you reach the target. Send personal emails or Facebook messages to people who haven’t yet supported you, but you think they might, given the right sweet-talking. Even if they don’t give you any funds, let them know how valuable spreading the love is, and be sure to give them the URL (and make it tiny). Try and inspire your network of existing backers to spread the URL around just one last time as well. This is great for the last minute surge of new backers you want to create. Be wary to avoid neglecting those devoted fans who have already backed you though.

Let your existing backers know that they can, at any time increase their donation to you. Remind them that they can go up one level in the perks. This is why it’s wise to keep your perk levels incremental, rather than having big gaps. People won’t know what you don’t tell them, and most of the time they won’t ask. It doesn’t cost you any extra money to let people know that they can ‘up’ their pledge amount and move up one perk level. You’ve already done the hard work in getting them to back you in the first place. If anyone is likely to contribute more money to your cause, it will be people who have already contributed. Paying attention to your existing backers is sometimes worth more than chasing after new ones.

Everything in Moderation

There is no standard rule of how much is too much in the way of updates and Facebook statuses or Tweets. Of course, one tweet throughout the entirety of your campaign is probably too little, but how much is too much? If you’re running a 30-day campaign, as I’ve recommended, some people would say posting something on Facebook every day would be too much. Others would say it’s not enough. In any case, aggressively promote your campaign but continue to use your best judgement and try not to repeat yourself too much. Unfortunately, I cannot give a definitive number that you shouldn’t exceed because every campaign is different.

Join The Conversation

Thanks for reading, once again. If you found anything in here useful, tweet it out, or share it on your Facebook wall!

If you’d like to tell me about your own experience with updating a crowdfunding campaign, leave a comment down below. How much is too much promotion?

Next week is the last installment! It’s all about what to do once your campaign is finished: win, lose, or draw. Stay tuned…

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