You worked for months building your crowdfunding campaign. You made your prototype, shot a video, wrote your pitch, practiced your spiel, and designed your website. The campaign finally goes live — and your friends and family immediately back you. But after a quick start, you're left wondering how to gain more momentum. After all, campaigns go viral on Indiegogo and Kickstarter all the time. How do you wake up to 1,000 backers and an over-funded campaign?
In the spirit of full disclosure, I am currently running a crowdfunding campaign for a book project, so figuring out how to find more backers consumes a lot of my thoughts. But it's important stuff, because promoting your campaign is the most challenging aspect of this process.
So, here are 10 ways to boost your campaign.
1. Look at your pitch again
Georgia Tech researchers looked at nine million phrases from 45,000 Kickstarter campaigns and found some of the most used phrases from campaigns that were fully funded vs. more unsuccessful campaigns. Most of the successful campaigns used persuasive phrases, as you'd probably imagine. Some of the popular phrases used: "good karma," "got you," "given the chance," "future is," "some help with," and, of course, "cats."
Some words that didn't work well? "Hope to get," provide us," "need one," and "we have lots."
According to Indiegogo, projects that post at least three updates throughout their campaign raise 239% more money than those who don't post updates. Really, the more updates you send, the more money you raise. Send one every few days. Thank your contributors, tell them about new news you have about your product, share your achievements, and let them know if there are any changes. Keep engaging your community.
3. Run referral contests
Referral contests work well to motivate people to share your campaign. Recognize your backers who send people your way or share your information on social media. Indiegogo has a help center for running a referral contest. Typically, referral contests work better 30 days into the campaign, or when 60% of the funding goal has already been reached, so you have your base audience.
4. Make a social media strategy
Obviously, this one is huge. But for good reason — your social media strategy determines whether your crowdfunding campaign lives or dies. You're not going to get backers by relying on people to browse through campaigns on the platforms. You have to reach out to them. Ask your most committed inner circle to share with at least five of their friends, for instance. Personally reach out to people on Facebook and Twitter. Cross-promote. And instead of focusing on making your campaign go viral, focus on what you can control. Be consistent with your audience, but switch up your posts.
When you install the Buzzmarker Chrome extension, you just have to click on the page and "Buzzmark it" and it identifies the contact email for you for that particular page or blog. Buzzstream also has a "prospecting list" feature that shows you where other blog links are on the site. Big time saver. There's also a free trial for two weeks, which is just enough time for you to use it during your crowdfunding campaign.
6. Scout your competition
Guaranteed, your project has some competition on Kickstarter and Indiegogo, and probably on smaller crowdfunding sites, too. But for starters, use Google to search campaigns like yours on Kickstarter and Indiegogo, find out who covered them in the media, and reach out to those reporters or blogs. You can also use Google image search for this — save a few images from the campaign, drag them into Google image search tool, and backtrack to find out who covered them when the images show up on the results page.
Buzzsumo allows you to search for Twitter influencers based on topic. Type in "crowdfunding" in the search bar, and you'll find the most talked about campaigns and who has mentioned them. (Unfortunately, the potato salad Kickstarter is still winning out with this search). Buzzsumo is a great way to find who is talking about things related to your campaign. Then you can personally tweet at them or engage them to pique their interest and start attracting a bigger audience.
8. Add perks
If you're doing well, add a perk or update the ones you have. To engage people in your campaign more, offer a live stream or live video, or a Twitter chat to talk about the product. Make a hashtag and promote it. Invite influencers you know on social media to help you out. You need to build that audience, and people want to see who is behind the product they're looking at. Make yourself accessible by doing a video Q & A about your campaign, or offer incentives to get people to contribute.
Help a Reporter Out is a popular way for journalists to find sources for their stories. It's also a pretty nice way to get the press interested in your campaign, if you act fast enough. If a reporter mentions something related to your product or campaign and you think you might make a good source for their story, hit them up. They get an example for their story, and you probably get a link to your campaign in the article. It's a win-win. But as a reporter who likes HARO, heed my advice: don't waste your time contacting journalists who have nothing to do with your product. Do your research.
Kicktraq mainly does analytics for Kickstarter, but it can also be used to search the internet for mentions of your competitors' campaigns. Find out who covered them, and then pitch those members of the media. Or, it may simply give you inspiration on how best to promote, update, or market your product during the rest of your campaign.
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- Funding your startup: Crowdfunding vs. angel investment vs. VC
Lyndsey Gilpin has nothing to disclose. She doesn't hold investments in the technology companies she covers.
Lyndsey Gilpin is a former Staff Writer for TechRepublic, covering sustainability and entrepreneurship. She's co-author of the book Follow the Geeks.