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Editor's Note: Thanks to PleaseFund.Us for sharing these tips for using the world's largest social network to boost your crowdfunding campaigns. This piece by Ben Hamilton originally appeared on the PleaseFund.Us blog.
Last summer witnessed Facebook reaching over a billion registered users and it’s a tool that should not be ignored when it comes to crowdfunding your idea.
Facebook is an easy way to connect with large amounts of people and ultimately promote your project; it’s also a great way of keeping people up to date with your progress and how your project is getting on. If you're not using Facebook for your project yet, you’re missing out on one of the largest and fastest ways to directly interact with potential fans and backers.
Social media is about making a real connection with something you care about (i.e your project). It’s also about building relationships.
First things first: Hone in on your target audience, and to try to filter out select networks amongst the millions of users that could be interested in your project. Using the search filters, you can ‘like’ pages and join groups that are somehow related to your project. If you’re an independent filmmaker wanting to fund your new British film, then you should be searching for ‘I love British Film’ groups, for example, or ‘funding for filmmakers’; anything in fact that could potentially be harnessed for the benefit of your campaign.
After ‘liking’ a page or joining a group, try to connect with other users and ultimately start building the foundations of some new relationships. Contribute to the discussions rather than wading in with ‘Please fund my project;’ reply to questions asked by others, post interesting articles and topical links associated with that particular group or page, and start establishing yourself as a credible profile. It’s important that some sort of relationship is formed with a group or page and that your comments are respected before asking strangers for money. Even when you do start promoting your campaign, remember to approach your post with some sort of an angle rather than simply asking for money. Highlight a particular pledge of yours for example, or an abstract from your project summary.
One of the cool things about using a Facebook fan page (as opposed to your personal account) is that it allows you to keep your business life and your personal life separate on Facebook. Plus you can have as many fans as you want, and customize your page with lots of interactive and useful apps.
Just as many project owners initially target their campaigns at their close friends and family, your friends and family should also be recruited to get your Page started off with some “likes.” This can easily be done by suggesting your page to your friends, and inviting them to ‘like’ your page.
However, before you start getting the word out there, we’ve got some tips on how to customize your page; how to adapt to the new Timeline design; and how to make the most of your page when it comes to crowdfunding.
With any crowdfunding campaign you want your project to stand out from the crowd (and you want your page to stand out too)! Create a custom page and make your page even more unique. This will help attract new ‘likes’ and will be more user friendly for your fans.
You can now also reserve a vanity url for your page without needing at least 25 likes. In other words you can obtain a customized url (www.facebook.com/yourprojectnamehere). By reserving a vanity URL for your page, you’re making it easy for people to access it, as well as making it easy for you to share your page with others. This will add credibility to your campaign, and here’s how you can do it. However, do bear in mind that this custom vanity URL can only be set once (so choose wisely). Some people also have difficulty creating a vanity URL for more than one page with less than 25 likes. If this is the case for you, there is a solution.
Whether you’re completely new to the world of Facebook or already have 1,000 likes on your page, the new Timeline design has changed things (ever so slightly) for everyone.
Facebook have issued a short video demonstration on how to customize your Timeline page. Despite stating that the page is for your business (rather than your project or campaign), it’s a useful overview of some of the features on the new Facebook page, including pinning a post, customizing your apps, and setting milestones.
- Pinning of a post lasts for seven days and the only posts you can pin are your own posts, and not the posts of others.
- Milestone suggestion: “We’ve just reached half our funding target.”
Whilst getting to grips with the new features on the Timeline design, it’s important to remember the basics. It may be good enough to just get a lot of people to like your Facebook Page for a business, but for your project you need to keep your campaign alive and somehow occupy the attention of those people as well.
5.1 Use Visuals & Share Links:
Photos can be worth 1,000 words (or posts). Regular updates of how your campaign is going can be boosted with an image or two and will be more engaging for your followers.
Sharing links associated with your campaign category (as well as your actual project page) can be equally as effective. Remember to choose the right thumbnail, as well as amending the default description if needs be.
5.2 Think ahead and send out pre-schedule status updates and messages.
Campaigning for your project can be pretty exhausting, but it’s important to keep your fans and followers regularly updated. You can schedule Facebook messages ahead of time so you can send messages to your friends, customers or colleagues in the future. Various services can be used, such as Sendible and Hootsuite, however be sure to check the pricing for these services.
While these sites offer the same kind of service for pre-scheduled status updates, the simplest way to schedule Facebook status updates is by using the easy (and free) Later Bro service. Just sign in with Facebook Connect, select your time zone, type in what it is you'd like to say, set the calendar and clock to when you'd like to say it, and hey presto!
5.3 Tag People
Mentioning (or tagging) people in your posts and/or updates is a great way to draw their attention to your page. Facebook should do this automatically if you start typing their Facebook name as it appears on Facebook: An auto-generated list will then come up with people in your social circle whose name starts with the letters. If this doesn’t work you can use Twitter technique and just type "@" before the name.
“@” tagging fans and followers when replying to them will help gain a personal touch for your campaign and helps the user feel welcome and listened to. This is especially useful when responding in a comment thread to single out users.
About the author: Ben Hamilton is a Community Manager at PleaseFund.Us and helps project owners tailor their projects the best possible standard.