Media Misinformation is Crippling Crowdfunding: Know the Facts

Dear Readers,

This post originally appeared on my LinkedIn Pulse blog site. I thought the information was worth sharing if you’re not a big user of LinkedIn. Please feel free to share with your friends who may be considering crowdfunding, especially if they’re not as far along in their crowdfunding education as you are. Education is power, after all.

One more thing before you settle in to read about media misinformation: I wanted to let you all know I am in the process of strategizing on not only a new site redesign but also repositioning myself in the crowdfunding space so that I can better serve you and also personally experience maximum reward in my daily work. Because work happiness is what it’s all about, isn’t it?

Any comments, suggestions, complaints, requests from you, I’m all ears. Really. Whether it’s technical issues on the current site—a possibility—or what you would like to receive more from me by way of helping you achieve your goals. I do this work for you, so it only makes sense that your feedback on how best to get it right would be invaluable to me!

Now to the article.

Several weeks ago I got an email from a local woman in her upper 60s with a spinal problem who wanted to run a crowdfunding campaign to raise several thousand dollars for at least a single round of stem-cell replacement therapy, maybe two—she’d learned that the second is often required. She told me her condition made it difficult for her to use a computer and wondered if we could talk by phone to discuss working together.

My heart sank. Again.

I know, and many of you know, that because crowdfunding is an online tool, if you can’t even use a computer you’re starting out at a major disadvantage. But not enough people know that crowdfunding isn’t the slam-dunk the media stories would have you believe, and that’s a big problem.

Like most of us I’m a busy person and was unable to take the time to have what I knew would be a lengthy conversation just to get the basic facts of her situation out of her. So as a test of sorts to see how serious she was I told her I would send her the usual questionnaire I ask people to fill out and she should find someone to help her. I’d read it, and give her my response afterwards.

About a month later I received the questionnaire filled with long responses to each of my questions. I knew immediately a) she was serious and b) my instincts were correct that crowdfunding would not work for her.This was one woman in a sea of people who needs money yet she lacked all the basic ingredients that would even put her on the map: She didn’t use social media, she had no understanding of PR or how it works, and she didn’t have a team to help her run her campaign. I decided the only decent thing to do was to phone her to break the news.

What Level Playing Field?

She was incredulous. But I see so many stupid campaigns that make money. I have a real need. Why wouldn’t people give to me?

I went through my spiel about needing to engage via social media, bloggers and media professionals, in order to spread the word. Ah but this is what she wanted me to do for her, she said. She offered to pay me $600, clearly a lot of money to her, because she heard that I was good at this sort of thing.

I told her I could not take her money because I did not believe I could succeed, especially since I could not commit to taking the time and resources I knew I would need to even make a dent. And even then it would be an up-stream swim unless we got very, very lucky.

She persisted, practically begged. It felt so awful I wished I could be anywhere than on that call. But I also knew I couldn’t be that good of a Samaritan while I watched my own business flounder.

Frustrated, she said she would try anyway. I offered to give her my online course for free. She bristled—again, she couldn’t sit in front of the computer, she fretted, plus time was short and she needed help now. I sympathized and gave her a coupon code for the course. She never redeemed it.

Crowdfunding as the Great Equalizer

I find myself not only thinking about this woman, wondering how her health is doing, and if she found some help. I have also have spent a lot of time considering the future of crowdfunding and its ability to truly level the playing field for all.

No doubt it’s truly a democratizer for entrepreneurs who have a promising new device or a fun gadget. But what about those people who don’t have anything to pre-sell? All they have is a need for you, dear public, to care enough about them to give them a leg up at a donation level of your choosing.

And even if you have a most compelling story it will be nothing more than the sound of one hand clapping unless it can be shared again and again by people for whom that story struck a chord.

Hey Media, Get a clue

I’ve been sitting on an article I read that was published in the Washington Post not long after my discomfiting conversation with one of the “needy nobodies.” It really hit a nerve with me.

Here’s the article in full but using the Detroit-based James Robertson as her baseline—remember he was the guy that a virtual stranger raised $350K for when he learned that every day Robertson walked 21 miles as part of his commute to get to his job—she itemizes why she was “not a fan” of the outcome of Robertson’s crowdfunding success story.

There are so many things wrong with the points made in the article I don’t know where to start. But I will, so let’s break it down.

  • The gist of this writer’s thesis is that the public shouldn’t give just because Robertson’s story was raised to “celebrity” status through social media.

But wait! Crowdfunding is nothing if not the perfect online vehicle that, fueled by social media amplification, can touch us as individuals and strike that emotional chord that tells us we want to give.

  • The writer also posits that the money would have been better spent to raise awareness about lack of access to affordable transportation for the poor. The solution, she says, is that we should give regularly to our favorite charities and call it a day.

Um yes, sure. But that’s not crowdfunding. Isn’t it possible that there is room for both of these mechanisms to support good causes? One is the traditional means; the other is a new, 21st century, technology-fueled method. The writer’s point is about as accurate as those who insist that money raised in crowdfunding “takes away” from money raised in traditional fundraising. It’s not one or the other. Didn’t we clear that up ages ago?

  • The writer laments that though Robertson’s story is “heartwarming” what about all the other people who don’t have such a good story?

That these words come from a writer—a purveyor of stories—for a major publication truly strains the imagination. Enough said on that point.

There are a lot inaccuracies about crowdfunding flooding the internet that can infuriate those who are working hard to clarify what crowdfunding really is and how to use it. That this person clearly has no idea what crowdfunding is yet has been allowed the bully pulpit to spread yet more misinformation about it rankles me. The sooner she’s gagged the less likely I am going to have to deal with people like that nice woman who needs money to get her health back on track.

I’d love to hear your comments.

Photo credit: Morguefile

Is Your Dream Worth Realizing? A Checklist

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Like most of us whose minds tend to dream up ideas for products and services, or have alternate points of view that we believe will make the world in some way a better place, we also have to beware not to run too far with our brilliant idea before we make sure it’s as original as it appears to have been when we thought it up in the shower or in the middle of the night as we groped for our bedside pad of paper and pencil in the dark. (Phew, that was a long sentence!)

I  came across a campaign today called Quell. It’s a pain-relief wearable device.

I thought it was worth highlighting it because to dissect it is to understand why it’s doing so well. It reads like a due diligence checklist. In other words, these people did their homework but more than that they have a great idea. So I invite you to check out the campaign and look at the video, which I’ve embedded below.

Based on their campaign, I’ve assembled a checklist. Here are some questions to ask yourself before your brilliant mind carries you away into the crowdfunding space. These guys will help you understand where and what makes your concept work and how.

FYI, I have no investment of any kind in them except my kindred hatred of pain.

Is your idea itself in considerable demand?

Who wouldn’t honestly do just about anything to avoid physical pain? Pain sucks. Pain debilitates. Pain is eating up an enormous percentage of the population 24/7, at least in part due to our stressed-out lifestyles, our unhealthy relationships to work, and the physical, mental, and emotional fallout from all our shiny technology. Oh, and our terrible eating habits.

Excuse the expression but this campaign touches on a vital pain points that pretty much all of us made of flesh and blood have some negative relationship with. That’s not to say that everyone will jump on the idea of this device but enough will because of personal experiences with pain.

(Okay, I just broke ankle so I know from pain. I will speak more on THAT topic once I’ve wrapped my head around the fact that the break is real; it’s not going to go away for a few months no matter how much I wish for it to, or search for some sort of supranatural rewind button.)

Does your idea or product cause no harm and does it really put the benefits to the audience front and center?

That may seem like a no-brainer yet many campaigns lack that crucial selling point. It’s not enough that you think your idea is so amazing; show us why we will think your idea is so amazing. And I mean really show–and tell. Don’t kid yourself with I’m-center-of-the-universe attitude—an unfortunate side effect of just how easy it is to get your name out there via social media. I see too many campaigns that think this is an effective tactic. Go figure.

One of the great selling points Quell provides is that the delivery system is 100% drug free. This is important because people care about staying healthy—and they care about getting healthy without the use of nasties like Oxycontin. Don’t get me wrong, right now Oxycontin is my friend but the drawbacks are severe, and if you’ve got a chronic pain problem it should not be an option…And yet there are not many better options, so this makes Quell sound extremely attractive.

Do you just want to take the money and run?

Lots of campaigns do. But Quell is not only ready to provide its first-generation device; they are also looking to you to help them improve the product. Yes, this is a smart move for them, and it’s hopefully not at your expense if the product proves ineffective, but I think it’s an attractive risk worth taking when you weigh it in the balance of all the work they’ve done so far.

Additionally, and just as importantly, Quell is using crowdfunding in beneficial ways that you should consider when you toss your idea around, thinking about throwing your own hat in the ring: by getting user feedback they will be able to produce a next-generation product that’s even better. Add that to the fact that their success will be enough proof of concept to attract other types of investment, and this diminishes what I just now thought of as “crowdfunding welfare.” It’s not meant to be that.

So make sure your campaign provides a larger service beyond grabbing the dough and leaving us to hope for the best. It will be different for every campaign but please make it a part of your thought process.

Can you support your idea with compelling statistics?

Those that really find success, in crowdfunding and on the internet in general, are those that can exert their expertise by providing quantifiable evidence of a need and then backing it up with an idea or product that effectively suggests it can address those needs. Quell weaves those into the video and narrative and punctuates it with all the media support they’ve already garnered, which is a kind of statistic in itself:  “Wired,” “Entrepreneur,” and “Bloomberg” and many more publications thought enough of it to write it up.

Does your idea have any type of standard against which it can be held up in order to support viability?

Considering all the concern over fraud, the fact that Quell is able to say the FDA cleared it for takeoff is great. As crowdfunding backers become more and more savvy, and perhaps experienced a burn or two, some sort of credentialing is going to be important. Again, this will be different is all cases.

Here’s an example, of how a filmmaker might gain credibility if they are a newbie and have no past films as evidence of their talent:

  • Former students can get their professors to vouch for them with a testimonial
  • You can ask a mentor who has a good reputation in the film industry
  • If you’ve worked for a highly successful filmmaker, as a gaffer or second AD, see if they wouldn’t give you the thumbs up to burnish your campaign.

Above doesn’t come close to itemizing all that you should be asking yourself before you launch what you think is your good idea. And if you do the exercise honestly and fail to live up to your newly developed high standards, so be it! That’s good information. There’s still hot water in the shower and keep that notepad on the night stand and you’ll get there in time.

Can Krowdster Capture and Promote Campaign with More Efficiency?

Tip of the Week

Krowdster blew onto the scene appropriately around the time that the calendar ticked to 2015. My amateur prediction (read: arrived at completely without benefit of psychic abilities) says that this will be the year we begin to address some of the deeply entrenched issues that are causing crowdfunding successes to plummet: the need to build a crowd that cares enough to contribute to your campaign. Because it’s a problem of enormous proportions.

You can’t keep a serial entrepreneur down, I guess, because it looks like founder Joseph Holm has tossed his hat in the ring in the hopes of turning this around.

You probably know Holm for his crowdfunding networking site called crowdfund.biz, and as the founder of the crowdfunding platform for filmmakers called Tubestart that incorporates content and audience development solutions, tools for rewards fulfillment, and more, into its value proposition. Krowdster is his most recent endeavor.

“I have created Krowdster to help more entrepreneurs become more successful at crowdfunding and launch more shining startups. Krowdster provides evidence-based, big data-powered analytics and campaign optimization as well as the world’s largest database of crowdfunding supporters that can be filtered by category, location or keyword to build an engaged crowd.”

krowdster artwork1

So how does Krowdster work? I The process is simple once you sign up:

  • Analytics provide data from 500,000+ campaigns
  • Optimizes campaign page and rewards setup based on metrics so it’s not a crapshoot
  • Promotes to 300,000+ crowdfunding supporters

Here’s a blog post that dives deeper.

So why Krowdster? Speaking from personal experience in my work with clients, when it comes time create a launch-ready strategy, building the crowd is the weak link for most aspiring crowdfunders because it’s a clunky, fragmented and time-consuming task. A tool that would take that heavy lifting away and allows users to search similar effortlessly would be a relief.

Does Krowdster work? Besides noodling around myself I’ve asked some of my crowdfunding colleagues their opinion of Krowdster’s effectiveness and the word “solid” has come up more than once. And as more people try it out we’ll be able to find out from the source how well it works.

Currently, the site draws its data from only four platforms:

  • Indiegogo
  • Kickstarter
  • RocketHub
  • Pozible
  • Tubestart

Holm is seeking other high-yielding rewards-based sites to further boost data results. Got a site you’d like included? Make suggestions!

Currently Holm is supplying his user-hopefuls with lots of tutorials, graphs, and even early-bird free trial offers. Here’s one video that provides a nice overview.

**Full disclosure: I will be signing on to Krowdster’s Affiliate Program

 

Design Within Crowdfunding Reach Requires Marketing

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Last fall I moderated a really exciting panel at the Digital Professional Institute that featured five successful Chicago-based project creators. It was a lively and delightful hour that went by way too quickly. (I learn so much from each crowdfunder, whether they fail or succeed, and these panelists all fell into the latter category.) Every campaign was unique, and I could write a post featuring and lauding each one. And perhaps soon I will, maybe in the form of a sit-down video. But that’s for another time and day.

For now I want to focus on a guy by the name of Craighton Bermanphoto

He’s a product designer and a Kickstarter star player with so many rousingly successful campaigns under his belt, one of which has little functional application but more than make up for it through its sheer love fest of form. (I will provide links below.)

I’ve been trying, in vain, to nab Berman for a sit-down with me, knowing full well this guy’s plate is fuller than a Las Vegas gambler taking a break from the slot machines to graze at the buffet table.

But he’s busier than ever and now I know what he’s up to. He’s just committed to teaching a yearlong professional development course at University of Illinois at Chicago.

This is so needed. The problem that many of us who consult come across with project creators is that these people, while brilliant at what they do, lack basic marketing skills. Which is a campaign killer.

Berman’s class Tumblr has the perfect title: Always Be Hustling. It features some really innovative student works. This is actually Berman’s second stint at UIC, with last year’s theme being on the “Making” of the product. This year’s focus: “Scaling.” (Unlike some artists who are less verbal than visual, Berman is equally skilled at both.) How many times does the marketing question come up by project creators? A lot. So this class should really rock. I can tell you from listening to Berman speak, that not only is his enthusiasm infectious but how can you argue with all his crowdfunding success? He clearly knows what works and you aspiring designers WILL want to crawl into the workings of his brain!

For those of you who live outside Chicago, first be happy you’re not dealing with 18” of snow! But also take comfort in the fact that Berman’s really on to something here. So might an online class will be next? We can only hope!

His campaigns:

Pinch (A gourmet salt cellar and pepper shaker set that brings the experience of adding ‘a pinch of salt’ to the dining table.)

The Campaign for Accurate measurement of Creativity (A Sharpener Jar To Quantify Your Creative Output)

The Manual Coffeemaker (A Pour-Over Coffee Maker Designed to Elevate the Ritual of Making Coffee by Hand) *This is the most recent and it raised $100K in 30 days.

 

His websites:

Craighton Berman Studio

Manual

Newsjacking, Good Taste, and GoDaddy’s Image

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I guess I still haven’t washed GoDaddy’s idiotic video out of my hair quite yet, even though I’ve already vented on Twitter and on LinkedIn about their outrageous video that was slated for airing on the Super Bowl—and then pulled after (surprise!) a backlash. If you haven’t seen it, you can watch below. But this is the elevator version:

A puppy is thrown from a truck. He valiantly finds his way home to his “family” only to be welcomed by a wicked-voiced human expressing happiness at the little guy’s return—because she’d already sold the dog online.

In my original rants I talked about what cretins these GoDaddy people must be—and there’s no doubt about it: they are. But this is idiocy wrapped in sinister strategy, one they’re clinging to like people without a creative bone in their bodies must do.

Why is this newsjacking?

Because GoDaddy’s marketing hacks know that the movement to end puppy mills is a big issue right now. So they decided it would be “funny” to turn that news on its head by taking a tragic situation and turning it into a frat joke.

The last time GoDaddy made the news was when they were called to the carpet for their disrespectful images of women—another issue about which serious people like Malala Yousafzai, Sheryl Sandberg and Hilary Clinton, to name but a few, try to raise awareness.

Can good taste be taught?

Absolutely. Making the news at the cost of others is a bad strategy. One way to ensure you’re on the right side of good taste is to ask yourself: Does this news I’m attaching myself to have anything at all to do with my brand? If the answer is no, not without fabricating a connection like GoDaddy did, it may be a clue that you’re cheaping out, which in the end means you’re not showing respect for your own brand. In that case it’s best to go back to the storyboard and start over.

 

Google Tricks of the Trade You May Not Know About

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No question Google is smart, but maybe not the brainiac we think it has become. To get us up to speed on tips and pointers to make searching more targeted, a site called WhoISHostingThis.com came up with a cheat sheet to help you find the relevant search results we all crave, pronto.

I was somewhat underwhelmed by some on the list. The first tip, for example, advises uses quoting around exact phrases. But keep reading! You’re in for a big surprise by all the nuggets of valuable pointers further down.

Here are some of the highlights from their findings, followed by the fantastic infographic they created for our convenience. Print it out! Commit it to memory. Just use the pointers and you’ll get where you’re going much faster.

Getting Results from certain domains

Let’s say you want to research the competition on Kickstarter for standing desks, because you’re considering running a crowdfunding campaign for yours.

Here’s how you would ask Google:

Standing desks site:kickstarter.com

This is page one of a total of 1,460 results”

standing desks site:kickstarter.com - Google Search 2015-01-23 11-50-06

Finding Content to URL You already know

Since we’re on the topic of infographics, let’s use the example provided. Visual.ly is a data and visualization and infographics platform. What to search for similar sites to, say, compare features?

Here’s how you ask Google:

Related:visual.ly

This is the page with it 48 related sites

related:visual.ly - Google Search 2015-01-23 12-23-06

Other Google Search Tricks

It doesn’t just stop at search terms, with Google Goggles you can find the name of an item just by taking a picture of the item you want to search for on your phone and then voilà! You’ve got your results. Here’s how to download Goggles and examples of how it works.

Check out the Full Infographics
How to be a Google Power User - Via Who Is Hosting This: The Blog

Source:

How Bringing “Sourcing” Back to the “Crowd” Can Translate into “Funding”

Crowdsourcing existed way before Jeff Howe famously neologized it. (How’s that for a fancy word for giving a name to something that didn’t exist before?) Now crowdsourcing has a permanent place in our popular lexicon—and that’s got to tickle Jeff Howe to no end! Wouldn’t you like to say you invented a word? Does it up his pay grade? Does he get invited to do Ted Talks? These and other questions take up too much of my time…..

As a little primer, let’s remind ourselves about how crowdsourcing works. Example: Just this morning I emailed a bunch of friends requesting names of acupuncturists they could recommend. They’re (hopefully) going to use their experience and contacts to help me find my dream acupuncturist at the perfect rate, location, bedside manner, etc. So now all I have to do is sit back and wait for the recommendations to come dribbling in.

The genius of using the Internet, or course, is that while my email went out to a few select friends true crowdsourcing uses the power of the Internet to disseminate requests and to deliver back a slew of germane leads.

Sites like eLance and oDesk and Mechanical Turk crowdsource workplace freelancers—also known as virtual assistants, since they could be located in the other hemisphere, which means not only will you never meet him or her (let alone be sure of their true gender) but you’ll probably not ever speak in real time.

Sittercity crowdsources child and pet sitters. I have used them to great success, finding a terrific, caring person to hang out with our dogs when we need to go out of town (thanks, Ingrid!) and so have my in-laws for their little Westie.

The design industry was an early adopter to crowdsourcing. Sites like Crowdspring and 99Designs have been matching clients with experienced web, logo, and graphic designers to varying success. I say “varying” because  most require that professionals work “on spec” and that can be a sticking point. But as a former writer who pitched editors regularly—and by “pitch” I mean I had to have a fully fleshed out story including sources before I got the thumbs up or down—I’m used to this. (I didn’t say I liked it.)

But the point is this is not new. Here, however, are some new industries enter the playing field and, flawed or not, I think it’s about time.

DTtTrd

Crowdsourcing Medical Diagnoses

Crowdmed.com is a long time coming. It’s a site that allows people with medical conditions that have perplexed the medical establishment to present their symptoms to the crowd for solving.

Crowdmed was started by Jared Heyman. His sister Carly had a condition that went undiagnosed for too long, much to the family’s frustration. As a means to help her—and also test out his medical crowdsourcing theory—he posted her symptoms on his site and….guess what? She got a diagnosis! You can read the story here.

There are two ways to participate. You can either submit a case, or you can suggest diagnoses—no medical degree required. To me, that’s not crazy; that’s simply utilizing the power of the crowd. (And the New York Times has had a successful column called Diagnosis that does exactly the same thing to great success.) Though crowdmed is very new, there are already many case studies you can read about.

Here’s where the “funding” part comes in. According to their site:

 Once you’ve proven your capabilities in making smart suggestions and point assignments, and have received good peer and patient ratings, you can fully participate in all cases on the site and earn even more rewards. . . Medical Detectives who contributed to these suggestions are awarded points, status, and even cash compensation from those patients offering it. But the greatest reward for most of our Medical Detectives is knowing they’ve helped people get their lives back.

Crowdsourcing Fashion and more

Crowdsourcing fashion ideas seems like a natural. I wrote a piece about Betabrand a while back. You can read it here. While their business model always included getting the thumbs up from the crowd before turning a mockup into a finished product, they recently added a crowdfunding component: submit your creations and if they are successfully funded you can earn up to 10% of the profit.

Reddit, the iconoclastic, glorified message board, recently launched redditmade which they say:

Allows users to create almost anything you want on, whether it’s a hat, sticker, glass, or something super specially customized and unique. We’ll help you make it happen! Want to make a T-shirt? You can create your design and make your campaign go live in just a few minutes. Creators get to decide how many they want to sell and for what price. They then have 30 days to reach their goal. If enough people pledge to buy production begins. Creators can receive all the profits, or they can donate them to any other person or cause you want.

According to its site, “Reddit is differentiating its service from existing ones by privacy features – managing all payment processing, item production, and shipping itself, user information never needs to be handed over to the project creator.”

That’s just for starters. Here’s an Entrepreneur article that delves into crowdfunding fashion further. Or just google “crowdfunding” and “fashion” and see what goodies come up.

Crowdsourcing Video Expertise

I talk to clients all the time who are perplexed about whom to hire to help them create a pitch video. Just a couple of days ago it was reported that two companies—one US-based, the other European—got smart and combined their expertise to “offer platforms that enable videos to be created for brands by a combined community of more than 120,000 film makers, writers, editors, and small production companies.”

The merger, called Vizy, asks individuals, brands or agencies to submit a proposal of needs. Participants must then present a creative summary or storyboard ideas for review. Vizy chooses the filmmakers to create completed videos and offers performance testing of submissions. Clients only pay for the videos they end up using.

No question, crowd dynamics is here to stay. So is this a good move for crowdsourcing in general and the crowdfunding industry specificually? I’d love to hear your comments.

Another question to readersQ5l0Jp

As a purveyor of information about crowdfunding, how am I doing? Am I delivering information that you care about? Are there gaping holes that you have been holding out hopes I’ll get around to filling? I don’t get a lot of “unsubscribes” but that doesn’t necessarily mean anything. I personally continue to accept blogs and newsletters in my in-box that I immediately send to the trash, just because I don’t want to offend by unsubscribing. I hope that’s not the case…but I’m here for you, so tell me what you need and I will try my best to accommodate you.

Case Studies? You are aware of my column on Crowdsourcing.org, right? It’s called Rose Recommends and each week I cover a single campaign created a brave soul who is willing to be critiqued in the hopes of getting it right—and helping others.

More Q & As? I really do try to interview people who’ve been wildly successful at crowdfunding. But timing is everything and they often so busy fulfilling their campaign promises a sit-down is hard to come by. But I keep trying.

Platform profiles? I hope this isn’t want you want, because there are so many other sources for these type of reviews and I try to keep my content to the kind of information that doesn’t look like it just came off wholesale rack, if you get my drift. I want to provide specialty-grade material. Think Stella McCartney vs. Target. 😉

Crowdfunding for US Veterans? Here’s a Way to Get the Word Out

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Remember Bob Woodruff ? He is the journalist who worked as co-anchor for ABC News until he was hit by a roadside bomb while on assignment in Iraq, in 2006. His head injuries left him with lingering aphasia, the loss or inability to express speech.

He may no longer be sitting behind the big desk but he’s far from off duty. According to the site, the Bob Woodruff Foundation’s mission is to “ensure that injured veterans and their families are thriving long after they return home.”BWF_stacked_lockup_outlines

With so many crowdfunding campaigns and organizations dedicated to similar missions, we know there are cracks in the system. In order to redress this in a creative way, the Foundation is requesting your stories in a project called “Writing for Heroes.

It is our hope that we can expand the conversation, through Writing for Heroes, a collection of stories by our team and those we work with: grantees, caregivers, family members, and of course, those who have served.

I would encourage anyone who is thinking about running a crowdfunding campaign that will help veterans to write and submit a story. Whether you’re the injured veteran, a family member of one, or even if you heard a story from someone that was especially moving to you, please commit it to print and send it in.

Story has the power to heal. And it also has the power to raise capital. And please send this to anyone you know who might benefit.

 —Remember, only 1% of American citizens serve in our all-volunteer army.

Who’s Got the Crowd Investor-Consumer’s Back?

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The first post of the New Year should mark time in a special way. That’s why I’m excited that I get to write about Dara Albright’s inaugural column on Crowdfundinsider called Crowd-Investors Corner.

What’s unique about Dara’s tips column is that she is filling a vacuum in the crowdfunding and crowdfinance ecosystem that’s way overdue. While there is no shortage of information that is designed to help the entrepreneur get a leg up on how to navigate the industry and ensure the best chance of success, barely a pixel is given to assisting the investor/consumers—end users, all of us—on how to spend our money wisely.

But the news gets better. images

Because while there are plenty of articles out there generating industry information, Dara is in a bit of a class of her own. She’s a Wall Street insider when it comes to know-how but an outsider when it comes to financial innovation. Pretty much every Big Thing that’s gone down in the industry, she’s had a hand in: from producing events to driving the political discourse of the JOBS Act.

But broad knowledge aside, to me what makes her work memorable is that she’s a bridge builder who’s not afraid to be provocative. In other words, she’s interesting, and in a sea of vanilla information sometimes you get desperate to find a real voice. I know I do!

Of course the win-win here is going to be that through Dara’s column, entrepreneurs and innovators will have yet another opportunity learn, to get inside the heads of the investors and consumers, which will drive them to higher standards.

So bookmark the page! I look forward to installments that I’m sure will be as eclectic as they are edifying.

Happy learning. Happy New Year.

Twitter Facts and Stats to Improve Engagment

Tip of the Week

Looking to improve social engagement on Twitter?If I’ve said it once I’ve said it twice, I love Hubspot, the Internet marketing company. I learn so much from them about inbound marketing. Today the focus is Twitter.

They recently released a free guide in collaboration with Social Bro, the only Twitter marketing platform, called The Science of Success on Twitter.

I also love Twitter so I had to share some of the highlights.

After analyzing 200,000 corporate tweets, they came up with fascinating data. Here are some highlights. You can see the original source here and sign up to get the guide here.

Here are some highlights:

Tweets with URLs in the middle of the tweet are 26% more likely to get RTd than those plat at the beginning or end.

Wow! That stat has lodged in my brain! It’s so simple so commit that one to memory.

Include one hashtag in your tweet and you’re 69% more likely to get a RT than if you include two.

That one needed no confirmation. But it validates my informal policy on the topic: Include more on a regular basis and I will probably unfollow you.

Consider a direct message campaign! They get on average a 300% higher click rate than email campaigns. 

Of course first your tweets have to be engaging enough to have your target return your follow. Read # 8 here to learn how to make that happen.