So you have a Crowdfunding Project – How do you grow your online community?
In recent months we have published a few blogs on Crowdfunding, ranging from A Beginner’s Guide to Best Practice Guides as demonstrated by Bonnie Bling and CakeCetera who were among those who successfully got their projects funded. In this Blog we’ll talk about that point in time after a project has been properly thought out and published on a crowdfunding platform. That point where most project owners ask the inevitable question: How can the project’s “Online Community” be grown?
BloomVC’s Amanda Boyle shares her views…
Every project or venture needs a support-team, and all businesses need customers! Whomever your perfect customer is: whether they’re an eco-warrior, a busy single parent, a tartan enthusiast or a jam-jar collector, you can guarantee that they will be online somewhere. Blogs, forums, Facebook and Twitter have always been used to bring like-minded people together, and now you can use these same tools to find the people you need to make your project a success.
Think what the point of connection will be between your project and the community who will support your venture. Usually, this connection will be the actual product or service you provide; i.e. you have something they want and need.But this is not always how it works– sometimes you may need to think outside of the box. An excellent example: Sandra Diamond’s Ecosse Candle Company creates high quality candles, and is based on the Clyde Coast of Scotland. Sandra realised that many people might choose to support her because they believed in maintaining manufacturing in their local area.
Whether or not they liked candles was secondary to the sentiment of ‘We Buy Locally’. Thus with her message of “Fuel the flame of manufacturing in Scotland!”, she received generous donations from passionate supporters, and exceeded her £12,000 crowdfunding goal.
Other successful projects that were supported through BloomVC.com include the creation of a new tartan for cyclists, a genre-crossing supernatural romantic comedy film, and a tribute for a celebrity cat. Sounds random yes? But when you have the entire online audience at your disposal, nothing is too niche!
How to make social media work for you
So, how do you find the people you need? Search tools on social media make it easier than ever to connect with people who have the same interests as you. Hashtags are a great way to find people on Twitter who could be potential new followers. YouTube channels and Facebook groups also offer good opportunities to get involved with existing online communities, and participate in conversations that are relevant to your project. Don’t forget to search for blogs and forums too!
Whichever platform you use, it is essential that you engage with your audience. It’s not enough to simply be on social networks to share links, or to announce your product like an advertisement. Just as Google has PPC or Paid Ads, there are paid for advert or “Boost Post” options you can use to promote your posts on Facebook and Twitter. In contrast: the forums and groups are not the place for blatant self-promotion! Nothing is a bigger turn-off than people feeling that they are constantly “being sold to”; or that their forum has been hijacked for advertising purposes.
A Good Conversation is key…
You have to participate in existing discussions, as well as start new ones. Create a buzz around your venture by talking about the latest trends in your sector, revealing behind-the-scenes activities and posing questions to your followers about developing your business or product. The audience in any crowdfunding platform are your ideal potential customers, so they should be interested in what you have to say.
Once you’ve got people’s attention, don’t forget to include new contacts by tagging, or using @address and #hashtags on Twitter. Hopefully, your message will spread virally, and open up your discussion to an even wider audience.