Narrowcasting: A Crash Course

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This post was inspired by a question someone posed on an online crowdfunding group. The source wanted to know how to maximize PR. Was hiring a publicist in order? A reasonable voice suggested the question itself was wrongheaded because in crowdfunding social media and public relations have a cross-functional role — they cannot be untangled.

Ding! Ding! Ding! That commenter wins the day!

People probably want to maintain their death grip on old-school PR because it’s familiar and social media is not. When efforts fail, the blame is put on the platform rather than the user. But it’s the understanding of these amazing technologies that have the power to fuel your message most effectively that’s going to get you to your goal.

If you’re guilty of broadcasting into the social mediasphere, which is not unlike trying to pin the tail on the donkey while blindfolded, here’s a crash course on narrowcasting. Just like it sounds, narrowcasting is the opposite of broadcasting. It is an age-old television and radio method for capturing a select audience and updated for the Internet age, to help break you of the broadcasting habit.

I recently tuned into a very educational webinar in which Amy Vernon, a stellar social media guru you should know about, taught us how to apply narrowcasting correctly.

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Individuals and Nonprofits: Team Up and Score Big

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The New York Times recently published a story about the effect crowdfunding has on nonprofits, which suggested that young people are less likely to contribute to legacy charities. Whenever the word “legacy” is invoked about an industry or a position — think the media and presidencies, for example — it’s usually code for “dead in the water.”

That doesn’t have to be the case. Done right, crowdfunding can be a useful tool for nonprofits.

Since there’s a fair amount of head scratching among individuals who want to crowdfund causes that would have previously been handled by traditional fundraising methods, the answer seems obvious. Join forces!

The best example of a successful marriage between individuals and nonprofits is the wildly successful Indiegogo campaign called “Parkinson’s. We’re in this together.”

The story is told through the eyes of one family, the Drapers. Parkinson has personally touched the family as matriarch lives with the disease. You may recognize son Tim Draper, a venture capitalist. (He also happens to be a great friend of crowdfunding.)

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Kickstarter Stories

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I don’t remember when I first noticed that Kickstarter was sending me a weekly email with the same, recurring subject line: “Happening.” It’s an easy email to miss, doesn’t even have the Kickstarter logo attached, just plain text on the page.

At some point I began to read them and since then, I look forward to their arrival. As Kickstarter has a reputation for being aloof, this weekly sharing makes me feel like I’m getting to know the people behind Kickstarter better, which could have some benefits.

Happening is a staff-aggregated collection of links divided into three subheads. The emails always have a subject subtitle that relates to one of the links embedded in the email. Finding the connection is like a mini-treasure hunt. Last week’s installment was Rhapsody, so called because of the YouTube link to George Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue, which had its premiere 50 years from the day of posting. I found myself using it as background music while I worked at my computer.

Here are the subheads and how you can benefit from them:

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This Valentine’s Day Show Some #CrowdfundingBackerLove

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Everyone’s always focusing on the needs of the crowdfunding project creator. Whatever they desire, there are multitudes of blogs and articles and expert tips to feed their creative juices and eventually their coffers.

But what about the people who make the project creators’ dreams come true?

Don’t they deserve some love? Don’t they give freely without any strings attached? Don’t they wait patiently wondering when and if the project they backed will turn into something tangible that will be delivered on their doorstep? Don’t they trust it will look as cool in person as it did online?

This Valentine’s week, in honor of the underappreciated masses who Tweet, Like, and +1 on behalf of all those campaign creators, selflessly widening their circle of support,  Tweet: #crowdfundingbackerlove.



Call it a run-up to Valentine’s Day for the crowdfunding community. Do your part and spread the love to backers everywhere.

To that end, here are some tips to make the lives of all the backers out there a little sweeter.

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The Art of Newjacking

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Newsjacking is a hack that holds great promise for today’s crowdfunder. It is a method of gaining exposure to your campaign by riding on the coattails of a breaking news story that has an organic connection to your own idea. The goal is to generate buzz for your campaign that you would never have been able to get on your own. Think of it as a form of cross-promotion in which you reap the benefits of someone else’s popularity.

This isn’t as opportunistic as it sounds. Well, maybe it is, but anyone who posts content, including commenting on social media about a current event, is already a newsjacker.

Hitching a ride to a relevant news story isn’t as much of a crapshoot as you might think. Want an example of newjacking? I recently newsjacked when I learned that Georgia Tech announced a study they just completed on how the language Kickstarter project creators use in their pitches affect whether people will open up their wallet or not. Since my crowdfunding focus is all about the importance of good storytelling, I jumped on it. Within 24 of reading about it I wrote this.

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Stuck for Crowdfunding Rewards? Get Perkolating

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Crowdfunding is a creative act, and the perks you offer should be as creative as the project you want to fund. Your perks reflect your end of the contract in the crowdfunding deal. If you don’t put much personal thought into choosing them, there’s another campaign around the virtual corner that will. Here are some quick tips on how to make your perks count.

Rock the roll out
Get 7-9 great perks queued up for launch day, but save some goodies for key moments in your campaign. This could be when you experience a dip in funding, for example.

Think like Macy’s
It’s a time-tested strategy. “Limited time only” perks work because everyone wants that thing that is only available for a brief moment in time.

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Three Sites That Support Your Crowdfunding Effort

Each day seems to bring news of the launch of yet another tool, site, or market to aid and support a benevolent crowdfunding-industrial complex. It’s such a chore to keep up, I’m amazed I ever get any work done! Oh yeah, silly me. I guess that is my work.

Here are three sites worth a follow that help champion, promote and facilitate the crowdfunding ecosystem through education, and they do it inventively.

Forever Geek Kickstarter Store is new to the space. Up since November, it is a resource for geek fans that want to track down the geeky-cool indie products that have been funded on Kickstarter. Though they carefully research and catalog products in an array of categories, you can’t actually buy anything there. Instead there’s a ‘Buy now’ link that directs users to the site where the product can be purchased.

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FunderCloud: Contrast, Compare, Fund!

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Many a happy dance was performed when Kickstarter announced their advanced search function recently. But there are still gaps to be filled in how people discover projects, and for that there is FunderCloud, the mobile app that allows users to browse and compare crowdfunding projects between Kickstarter and Indiegogo.

A systems engineer beat out Kickstarter and Indiegogo in developing an app for both iPhone and iPad that allows you to filter projects across both sites, by popularity, and by time created and/or ended. It also lets you easily keep tabs on your favorite projects and receive alerts when projects are reaching the end of their funding cycles. (Kickstarter does have a mobile app for iPhones only.)

Developer Dave Knell says he wants FunderCloud to be a “single pane of glass” for crowdfunding — something that may annoy all those other platforms out there who are not represented — but his idea certainly moves things in the right direction.

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Two Good Blog for Pre- and Post-Launch Insights

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There are two steps that crowdfunders seem tempted to gloss over. The first is the labor-intensive but massively beneficial pre-launch stretch that, when unattended to, can leave the unprepared in the dust.

The other is the fulfillment process. Prepping for it entails an organized and accurate assessment of costs, time, and labor commitments, and an accurate estimate for delivery.

The more due diligence and research and you conduct in these areas, the more likely you are to dodge bullets and avoidable headaches that can pound your pocketbook in equal measure.

Here are two sites whose entire reason for being is pre- and post-campaign work. Though you probably have heard of them, you may not be aware that they have logged some very informative blog posts. Often data-driven and quite granular, keep them on your radar and it will pay off. Sure, other blogs cover the pre- and post-launch intervals. But if you have a broken foot who would your rather see, a podiatrist or a general practitioner?

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Do You Know About These Twitter Functions?

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One reason I like Twitter is because it’s so simple to use. But it turns I’ve only been taking advantage of its basic functionality. If you have been, too, you could be limiting who sees your campaign updates.

Leading Characters
If you want all of your followers to see your tweet in their timeline, you must to start your tweet with a “leading character” — anything such as a simple period (.) will do — and not an @.

By starting your tweet with an @ mention only you, the person you mention, and anyone who follows both of you will see your tweet in their timelines. It will also be visible to anyone who happens to view your profile. In other words, you will see the post in your timeline, but your followers won’t see it in theirs.

I learned that Twitter came up with the leading character for people who want to boost the exposure of an account that has few followers. On the other hand, those in the know intentionally start with @ to keep an exchange private.

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Written by Rose Spinelli