How Facebook Can Support Crowdfunding Efforts

Tips of the Week

Different social networks require unique messaging techniques designed, timed, crafted, and suited to that particular platform. If you want to maximize response and conversion rates you can’t just throw some stuff up. Like everything related to marketing, a strategy is in order to do it right.

Since Facebook often seems like a big messy room I’m reluctant to enter, I found this infographic by TrackMaven, a site dedicated to making you a more competitive digital marketer, extremely helpful.

After analyzing exactly 5,804 Facebook brand pages and 1,578,006 posts and then putting the information into their data grinder —that’s the my informal term for doing math that’s beyond my comprehension and pay grade—these guys really managed to clear the clutter and explain Facebook’s needs that’s not only simple and concise—something I’ve never said about Facebook before—but also seems very doable.

Try incorporating these simple-to-follow—and very surprising—data points and see if you don’t lure your users one  very important click closer to your crowdfunding campaign. (Highlights below and infographic follows.)

Character count: a good Facebook post is around 60,000 characters and if your post is over 80 words your response rate improves by 80%.

Visuals: images garner 37% more engagement

Best hours: posts published between 5pm – 1am Eastern time get 11% more interaction, than those published during the work day (8am – 5pm) and 29% more than those published before work, 1am – 8am.

Weekends: Less than 18% of content is posted on weekends, but weekend content sees the most engagement

 How-to of engagement:  “likes” are the most common way to socially engage, accounting for 87%, 5% accounts for comments and 8% for shares

Time and days matter: Thursday is the big day on Facebook, weighing it at 16.82% posts, and lunchtime is the favorite time

The hashtag: these posts see 60% more interaction

The exclamation point: as much as I hate to report this, it seems the exclamation point is seen as being positive. Use them and see 2.7% more interaction

The big question: ask a question and see your interaction increase by 23% on average

The Nuts and Bolts of a Perfect Facebook Post – An infographic by the team at TrackMaven
 

 

Crowdfunding Campaigns You Should Know About

Hi crowdfunders,

Yesterday this blog post went out prematurely. Here’s the completed post. Thanks for your understanding!

I look at so many campaigns that blow me away for one reason or another. What to do with all this ingenuity and spirit. As they piled up and lodged in my consciousness I decided that would just post them, share why I liked them, and maybe they would resonate with you, too. Give, don’t give. Share, don’t share. Just give them a peek and see what you think. I’d love to hear how our views diverge or collide. In no particular order:

Dancing in the Third Act aroused
that feeling I’m sure you

all recognize when you find a campaign that makes you feel.

It’s all about good friends, the freedom of expression, and the

recognition that we live in a time and country—for good and

bad—where thirds acts are permissible and increasingly common.

This is an example of the good kind.

 

Talkitt is is voice recognition software for the speech impaired. I have no idea how it does it but it is able to translate words in any language that sound unintelligible to the human ear. The daughter in the video who describes how her dad suffered a stroke and she no longer recognized the person she knew was still inside, on the outside says it all. It’s very moving, but it’s also some darn cool technology. Another great feat from an Israeli company–why are they so good? My colleague Ran Cory, who’s worked as creative director and has several other successes under his crowdfunding belt can be proud.

Voiceitt from VoiceItt on Vimeo.

 

School of Doodle. Any campaign that succeeds at empowering the other half of the sky, as John Lennon famously called those of us of the female persuasion, and if the narrator is “Orange is the New Black’s” Natasha Lyonne, the gravelly voiced tough girl with a big heart who can’t hide no matter how tough her exterior, I’m in double. The campaign really speaks for itself. Support them and speak for the Loud Club yourself.

<iframe src=”https://www.indiegogo.com/project/ronald-mcdonald-house-picture-day-project/embedded” width=”222px” height=”445px” frameborder=”0″ scrolling=”no”></iframe>

The Ronald McDonald Picture Day Project gets props for most improved video. Full disclosure: I consulted with this great couple from Durham, North Carolina. We talked about the fact that the video needed work and they stepped up. This video captured the “kid” spirit the other was missing. The work they are doing for these kids and their families is gratis. Show them some love, won’t you?

How One Enterprising Crowdfunding Campaign Takes on Commercial Farming

Let me say first: This post is not going to be a tirade on the evils of commercial farming. It actually has a happy middle—the ending is still being created, and all you power-of-the-crowd believers are about to be given an opportunity to harness some of your muscle to create change.

But first the backstory.

Months ago I stumbled on a Facebook page that would change me considerably. Though Esther the Wonder Pig sounds like the sequel to “Babe,” and I’m not sure how well that film did at the box office, by my calculation Esther’s fan base weighs in at about 261 fans per pound. And that’s not counting Instagram and Twitter.

Steve Jenkins and Derek Walter, an ordinary couple of animal lovers living just outside of Toronto, Canada, launched her Facebook page in 2012. This was shortly after they added to their menagerie what they thought was a “mini pig.”

Surprise, surprise! Esther ended up being a regular ol’ workaday commercial pig. You know, like the ones that live for the sole purpose of being our dinner?

Not long after looking at the photos of Esther—all 530 lbs of her —hanging out with the family, with a smile you could just gobble up, I took my last forkful of her kind.

ESTER1 Esther3

The mental commitment was the easy part. Alas, I’d find myself having to revisit Esther’s Facebook page whenever I got a hankering for barbeque.

Pork is everywhere! At an Asian restaurant recently I struggled to find anything on the menu that didn’t include some pig part. When I told friends at the table about my dilemma, and how Esther’s big moony face tugged at me, I was met with polite amusement. I guess it’s true: a picture is worth 1,000 words. I should have pulled out my iPhone, we’d all have settled for the tofu.

I spoke with Steven Jenkins recently and tried that story one more time, figuring I’d find a more receptive listener. He surprised me by saying that a large percentage of Esther fans come from Asia! Is it possible they cutting down their pork consumption, too?

Maybe! He wasn’t sure. . .

. . . And maybe not.

Despite efforts—and great strides—by animal-rights advocates, however, for most people there remains a cavernous disconnect between our diets and how those farm animals wound up on our plates. (Warning about that last link. It contains graphic video images I still cannot shake from my brain.)

Meat-eating has always been a messy business, shadowed by the shame of killing and, since Upton Sinclair’s writing of The Jungle, by questions about what we’re really eating when we eat meat. Forgetting, or willed ignorance, is the preferred strategy of many meat eaters, a strategy abetted by the industry.

– Michael Pollan, journalist and author of “The Omnivore’s Dilemma.”

But here’s the thing: If I used the narrative above to frame my crowdfunding pitch, Esther’s campaign to purchase property for a pig farm sanctuary would probably be suffering a slow, unnecessary death.

Check out what her people did with Esther’s campaign instead. From the beginning it’s upbeat, celebratory, and all-around entertaining! Even the video, (the VO of which just may be a nod to “Babe”) doesn’t make us feel overwhelmed or saddened.

Or guilty.

Just like her Facebook page Jenkins and Walter were smart enough to meet people where they are. They share the ups and downs of accidental big pig ownership and definitely do not recommend it. No looking down on the unenlightened meat eaters or preaching a vegan or vegetarian diet. No violins or tears. At least they don’t lead with that.

Through it all, however Esther becomes more and more emblazoned on our psyches. A living and breathing integral part of their family—just like our dogs and cat companions (albeit with cloven feet)—and a lovable stand-in for all the anonymous farm creatures we never before bothered to give much thought to.

It’s just great.

Social entrepreneurs and nonprofit organizations remember: People tune out when they are lectured to or inundated with sad-sack stories and images. You’re not putting your best face forward when all you do is highlight the problem.

Make no mistake, people understand there’s a problem when they read about Esther the Wonder Pig; they just won’t feel assaulted. In fact, they’ll probably become more curious and do a little research on their own. (Like I did when I stumbled on that horrific video documenting pig treatment on commercial farms.) Then they’ll come back to you— enlightened and primed to fund you—and feel grateful for going easy on them.

What else did this campaign do right?

They let social media do the heavy lifting

From the beginning Jenkins and Walter used social media brilliantly. Launching a Facebook page for Esther was a natural since it’s a haven for animal lovers, and they are actively targeting celebrity animal lovers on sites like Twitter.

They got their proof of concept before launching

Jenkins told me he and Walter were shocked to see how quickly Esther’s star shot into the social media stratosphere. So by the time they decided to run a crowdfunding campaign, with hundreds of thousands of followers spread across social media channels they had every reason to believe they could be successful.

They created a business plan

Their goal is not a small one: They need $400K just to purchase the property and the buildings on it. They wisely hired professionals and wrote a business plan they call The Esther Effect Farm Animal Sanctuary. This gives them much-needed credibility and leadership thumbs up.

They are not relying on crowdfunding as a sole source of income

The crowdfunding campaign represents only phase one of their plan. As their accountant told me (yes, Esther has an accountant) the ultimate goal for the sanctuary is that it becomes self-funding through their registered foundation for daily operations, with supplemental revenues coming from a farmers market and educational programs as well as special events and entry fees.

They are building an army

Esther has a second Facebook page. It’s called Esther’s Army. Why does she need that? Forget about teams! With their ambitious goals Jenkins and Walter were smart enough to realize that they needed a dedicated place where their true fans could go to share ideas, offer suggestions, and brainstorm on next steps. “It’s a way to avoid spamming people,” Jenkins said. I love that.

My only concern, which I shared with Jenkins, is that an awful lot of perks are going require considerable man (and pig) hours to fulfill. Life with Esther is busy enough. Will they be able to pull it off? Jenkins is sanguine about it, but it remains to be seen how Esther feels about Skype.

My suggestion to all of you fans who plan to contribute is please do Esther and her people a favor and check that little box that says No Perk.

Cross-Promoted Crowdfunding Campaigns Create Added Value

Tip of the Week

Have you heard? Indiegogo just announced a brilliant marketing strategy whereby campaigners with synergistic concepts can join forces to cross-promote each others’ crowdfunding campaigns. The result can effectively increase the community and contributions of both parties, while giving a new twist to the adage “the whole is greater than the sum of its parts.” Here’s how it works.

They kicked it off with Button TrackR, a teeny button-size device that will track anything down with your iPhone or Android, and Gingko, a hip yet utilitarian and eco-sustainable umbrella of Italian design.

Lost your Gingko umbrella? Find it easily with ButtonTrackR! According to Indiegogo, this marriage has significantly extended the geographic reach of both campaigns.The return in dollars bears this out nicely.

When donors contribute to either of the collaborating project’s campaign, Indiegogo shoots out an email to tell you about the buddy campaign.

Watch These Two Excellent Crowdfunding Pitch Videos

In advance of my “crowdfunding speed consulting” session with the film students I talked about in my previous post, I did a bit of homework hoping to help students work through an issue they encountered: How do you make a great video pitch about your film without giving your plot away? I found two great spoiler-free examples on Indiegogo.

1. Both fully followed the fundamental rule in crowdfunding of leaving no question unanswered.
2. Both managed to give the audience a powerful sense of the look and feel of their film.
3. And both took a “meta” approach to fulfill 1 and 2.

Not only did 3 work famously, but it also went a long way to demonstrate the personality, wit and storytelling savvy of both project creators:

The Body: A short film by Kenny Gee

The Ascent

Have you checked out the actual projects yet? Go. I’ll wait.

Surprised? I was. I’d actually stumbled on “The Ascent” last fall while the project was still running. I immediately fell in love with the video and contacted the creators to ask why they thought they were doing so poorly. I never received a response.

On the other hand, “The Body” was a featured project on Indiegogo a couple of weeks ago, which happens only when you have a high Gogofactor. With about two weeks still to go Gee, a Singaporean filmmaker, has already exceeded his $20,000 goal by about 30%.

So what lessons are there to be learned here?

My heart wants to assume the unsuccessful campaign ran into unrelated roadblocks —a great paying gig that could not be passed up, for example—and the campaign had to be aborted.

My head says that crowdfunding success is a careful, thorough and relentless orchestration of all the elements of your project. That you can’t rely on one piece of the puzzle to get you to the finish line. I’d love to hear your thoughts.

An Enlightened Look at Crowdfunding

Entertainment is a great mirror for capturing the cultural mood. I can think of several current television shows that reflect our anxieties about the future and our lack of trust for formerly sacrosanct institutions.

My current favorite is season two of ” Enlightened,” the HBO series created by the weird and wonderful Mike White. It stars Laura Dern as Amy Jellicoe, a deeply flawed but well-meaning corporate drone who, after a professional meltdown, has seen the light—sort of.

mikeandlaura

 

In many ways Amy symbolizes our collective insecurities albeit writ large. She wants to be an agent for change! A superhero in a shiny cape who is willing to face off with her soulless employer for the collective good.

No spoilers here. Let’s just say while Amy’s heart is in the right place, judging from Episode 4, in which she has been introduced to the power of Twitter, things may not go well for her.

lauradern

Insecurity, however, also creates space for innovation, and fortunately there are now other ways to put people over profits using social media. It wouldn’t make for good TV, but the next time you have a case of “cape fever,” here are some new and effective ways people are using the power of crowdfunding to make the world a nicer place.

Co-operatives!

CO-OPS is a global group based in Canada that aspires to involve the masses in creating solutions to society’s community problems through one-member/one-vote co-ops.

Founder Roii Patterson wants to get people thinking about what co-ops they’d like to establish locally—he believes just about any idea is ripe for a co-op—and then use crowdfunding to bring them into the world. The group created an Indiegogo campaign, the model of which rewards entrepreneurs who start sustainable co-ops by allocating a percentage of profits to them. Their initiative then makes it easier for other to replicate the model elsewhere.

Rewards include co-op brainstorming sessions, assistance in business-plan creation and funding strategies. If you’ve got an idea for a co-op they’ve got your back.

Citizen Science!

Public funding has dried up like a Christmas poinsettia. It’s now commonplace for artists to turn to crowdfunding to fill in the gap. Last year, in fact, Kickstarter accounted for more funding to artists than the National Endowment for the Arts.

Now the scientists have caught the fever. In an effort to understand the microbes that inhabit our bodies, two Indiegogo campaigns running simultaneously (one is still active) are using the crowdfunding model combined with open-access data analysis to allow individuals to participate in unlocking the secrets to how diet and lifestyle decisions can dramatically affect health. Not only will the results improve our health, but without all those tedious grants to write, not to mention the time it takes to get the funding, progress will happen much faster.

American Gut calls itself “the world’s largest open-source, community-driven effort to characterize the microbial diversity of the Global Gut.” Though the campaign is over, having raised $339,780, you can still be a part of phase one (as of this writing) if you contact them soon.

Ubiome is an international effort available to 196 countries. With several days to go it’s more than doubled it goal by raising $267,545.

For both the process is the same as any DNA sampling. You purchase a kit, swab the body part, and mail it back to them for analysis. In return you get detailed information about your bacteria and what it says about you. Though both projects are mainly interested in your gut, perk levels also include kits for the mouth, skin, nose and even genitals.

It’s important to note that the rest of the scientific community will have to catch up before individuals can truly make use of this technology. But by participating now you are a pioneer and first on your block to learn what your gut is trying to tell you.

 Free the Books!

The list of traditionally published books that are no longer available to the public is long. These works are by law in a state of limbo—they are “stuck.”

Unglue.it invites you to imagine a world in which any book ever written can be made available to be read by device, format or ebook of your choice. Legally.

Unglue.it works with book rights holders. Together they determine a fair price to set the book free under Creative Commons licensing. A crowdfunding campaign is then started and you can pledge money to help raise the decided sum. When the goal is reached, the owner is paid and a digital version is created, for the device of your choice, worldwide. And you can legally copy it to share it with friends. Books rights holders can also initiate campaigns. Owners are also allowed to enter into other licensing agreements, including film rights. Win-win!

 Public Works!

Based in London Spacehive funds the capital costs of building public projects. Anything in the public space can be crowdfunded—sports facilities, green spaces, playgrounds. The appeal is that it invites the communities who best know and care about their needs to put forward project ideas. While it doesn’t eliminate the need for planning permission, according to their site it offers a streamlined approach that “put communities in the driver’s seat.”

Here in the U.S. a bill has been proposed by the lower chamber of the state of Hawaii to create a state crowdfunding website, which “allows members of the public to donate their own money toward the funding of specifc public capital improvement projects and monitor the progress of those projects as they near completion.”

Notably or not, the sponsors are all Republicans.

Four Ways Noreen Malone Got It Wrong About Crowdfunding

After journalist Noreen Malone’s controversial essay in The New Republic entitled “The False Promise of Kickstarter: Fund Me, I’m Useless” made its way through all the usual crowdfunding channels, a predictable kerfuffle ensued among crowdfunding enthusiasts that basically cast Malone as a bit of a nudge.

 

The Nudge

She is not the boss of how we spend our money, people insisted. No matter how foolish, misguided or “useless” the projects we choose to back might be, what’s it to her?

In the article Malone cites a few projects that, having no practical application on planet Earth nevertheless went on to reach their funding goals. By her own admission her examples were plucked straight from the lowest-hanging fruit of inutility, but still. The concepts and products are getting sillier, she complained, and they’re piling up.

Her concern is that as crowdfunding’s popularity continues to proliferate and projects pop up like over-bred moles in an arcade game, so too are the social pressures to pony up. We the friends, cousins, aunts, next-door neighbors and cubicle buddies cannot escape them. In short: Crowdfunding pleas for donations have become a burden, and they’re worthless, too.

This got me thinking. Sure, anytime society sanctions ways to make quick profits, it opens doors for the system gamers to take advantage of those not paying attention—just look at Bernie Madoff. But that’s why those of us who follow it closely really believe in the crowd mentality when gift giving.

Each person who clicks on to a crowdfunding campaign serves as a sort of check for everyone who’s come before and a balance for those who will come after. Among them at least some of the people will examine and dissect some detail or other of the project for accuracy, viability, veracity; some will critique and comment through public feedback, good and bad—and all totally visible for all the other prospective donors to see. When a campaign really picks up speed it’s because the crowd felt the momentum, found it righteous, and propelled it forward.

If Madoff’s wealth management company conducted its business online, how long do you think it would have survived before someone smelled a rat?

In the light of the controversy, I decided to circle back to some of my favorite projects that on the face of them should not have blown up into the stratosphere as they did. I wanted to see how the people were doing today. What I found was enlightening and confirms that, though I understand Malone’s concerns—I too scratched my head at my first invite to contribute to a Kickstarter project—I don’t think she’s scratched beneath the surface of the crowdfunding space. So, stroll with me down memory lane a bit.

1) Remember Karen Klein, the bullied bus monitor? A guy probably half her age, and a total stranger, launched an Indiegogo campaign so Klein could have a vacation. The project raised $698,873.00 beyond its desired $5,000 goal. (Am I the only one who instantly developed a crush on Max Sidorov? I think not.)

Klein could have hoarded the money, for which I’m sure she’s paying a chunk in taxes. Or, speaking of nudges, given the ensuing critical comments begrudging Klein her money, she could have gone sour on the crowd. Instead Klein turned over $100,000 to start an anti-bullying foundation. (Other online sources quote $75K. Hey, I never said the Internet was perfect.) Klein is not just taking a well-earned vacation; she’s also helping to rehabilitate bullies.

2) Then there’s Caine, the 9 year old from East L.A. who fashioned an elaborate arcade out of cardboard because he was bored and lonely. A stranger, who goes by Nirvan, was his first and only customer. Struck by Caine’s ingenious construction, Nirvan organized a surprise flashmob. Thousands of people from all over showed up to play. If you’re having a bad day click on this now to turn it around.

Buoyed, Nivan went further. With the original goal set at $25,000, he crowdfunded a project for Caine’s Arcade Scholarship Fund. It raised $221,066. A generous matching dollar-for-dollar seed-funding grant of $250,000 followed, which launched Caine’s Arcade Imagination Foundation to help more innovative kids around the country. Who knew cardboard could lift up a generation?

3) And how about Matthew Inman, the comic whose online material was stolen by sleazebags? He blogged about it and the guilty party’s attorney decided to get nasty, asking for $20,000 in damages and a cease and desist. Instead of being intimidated, Inman started a campaign to raise the money—but donate it to the American Cancer Society and the National Wildlife Federation. The campaign’s final take was $220,024.

On a roll, and using his voice to make the world a better place, Inman launched a second campaign to raise $850,000 to buy and restore Wardenclyffe Tower in New York to honor Nikola Tesla, and $1,370,461 later the Tesla Science Center is on its way to becoming a reality.

Yes, I cherrypicked my examples as much as Malone did; and no, not everyone has the ability or the will to achieve such heights for the greater good. But I for one feel heartened. Not only does crowdfunding make the connections possible, but now we all get to be superheroes just by clicking a button!

4) And speaking of superheroes, here’s one final example of things-we-don’t-need-but-wanna have: shiny, colorful capes that even Harry Potter would envy. Amazing Capes – Release Your Inner Superhero just raised $45,267 with a $15,000 goal. Roxanne, the campaign’s creator, has already committed to donate all future cape orders to “social organizations that are making a positive impact on our planet.” I can’t guarantee that buying one will thwart the naysayers’ barbs, but something tells me when you put one on you’ll feel happy, and that’s good enough for the crowd.

Photo credit: Timothy

Learn the Keys to a Successful Crowdfunding Campaign

You have a great idea, believe passionately in a cause, or have been struck with creative inspiration, and you want to run a crowdfunding campaign. You’re off to a great start!

Here’s an alliterative look at what you will need out of the gate.

Pitch – Tell a good story. It should be clear and compelling. A video helps a lot. Data show that campaigns using videos raise on average 114% more than those that don’t.

Perks – Also known as rewards, these are the tangible or feel-good gifts you offer contributors to your campaign in exchange for their monetary support. 93% of campaigns that reach their goal offer perks.

Proactive – Campaigns that update contributors and viewers every 1 -5 days raise 100% more than those that don’t. Further, campaigns raise the first 30-40% from people they know, and then dollars from strangers begin to flow in after that.

This data is courtesy of  Indiegogo, one of the leading crowdfunding platforms that specializes in “the art of social discovery with the science of analytics.”