21 Tips for using social media for crowdfunding campaigns

These 21 tips are based on learnings from two crowdfunding campaigns to fund my trip to present the Emergency 2.0 Wiki at the 5th International Disaster and Risk Conference (#IDRC2014) in Davos, Switzerland.

  1. Crowdfunding Project Background: As founder and CEO (voluntary) of the Emergency 2.0 Wiki, a nonprofit online resource for using social media to build disaster resilience, I was invited to present at the #IDRC2014 conference in Davos, Switzerland in August 2014. #IDRC2014 was organised by the Global Risk Forum in cooperation with the United Nations Office for Disaster Reduction (UNISDR) and is the largest world gathering of key players in this field.
  2. I spoke on the importance of a whole of community approach to using social media for disaster resilience and how the Emergency 2.0 Wiki can help.
  3. The Emergency 2.0 Wiki believes that social media offers the potential to play a transformative role in communities in making disaster resilience a social norm. It is our view that social media can help communities create a level of resilience that ensures they don’t just ‘bounce back’ after a disaster, but ‘bounce forward’, becoming stronger with increased social networks, social cohesion and social capital.
  4. We believe together we can create a world where the power of social media is harnessed to enable communities to save not only their own lives in disasters, but also the lives of others. This requires a 'whole of the community' approach in which the community becomes partners in disaster resilience. We provided examples of how this can be done and highlighted resources available on the Emergency 2.0 Wiki to assist.
  5. Need to provide social media tools to empower the community to help themselves & others in disasters #IDRC2014 http://t.co/316hXjDeku
    Need to provide social media tools to empower the community to help themselves & others in disasters #IDRC2014 pic.twitter.com/316hXjDeku
  6. This forum was also a powerful opportunity to shape future world policy, making recommendations for the Post 2015 Disaster Risk Reduction Framework to be ratified at the upcoming UN World Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction (WCDRR) in Sendai Japan in March. We did this via an extended abstract, personal statement and presentation:
  7. as well as a Red Chair Video Statement at the conference:
  8. Eileen Mary Culleton IDRC Davos 2014 Red Chair Statement
  9. The following 21 tips for using social media to promote your crowdfunding campaigns are based on learnings from two campaigns: the first, which was successful and the second, which was not successful. The first campaign, to raise $1,400 to pay the conference registration fee to secure my speaking spot, was, by crowdfunding standards, a great feat. We reached (and exceeded) the target in only 5 days!
  10. The second campaign, three months later, to raise the funds for me to travel from Australia to Switzerland to attend the 5 day conference, was not successful, raising only half the $7,500 funds needed. The second campaign had a deadline of two and a half weeks and was enacted as a 'backup plan' as we were originally aiming to raise the funds through sponsorships (which we partly did).
  11. Thankfully, at the last minute, we managed to secure a government sponsor, Emergency Management Australia, of the Attorney General's Department, who together with people honouring their crowdfunding pledges despite us not reaching the target, meant that I was able to go!
  12. The following tips are based on learnings from using social media in both campaigns:
  13. Tip 1: Run only one crowdfunding campaign for your project. The key learning from the second campaign was that having two campaigns confused people. I received feedback that when people searched for the project on the crowdfunding site they saw my successfully funded campaign and thought I didn't need help. If you have a two-stage project requiring a second campaign, you might consider choosing a different crowdfunding website to prevent confusion.
  14. Tip 2: Allow time for your campaign to build momentum on social media. Crowdfunding sites generally allow you two months to run your campaign and recommend one month as a comfortable timeframe. I suggest you allow six weeks to give you time to build anticipation with a soft social media launch, activate your public launch, maintain momentum and then do a final countdown.
  15. Tip 3: Make social media recognition a reward. Crowdfunding sites ask you to offer rewards to encourage people to pledge. Social media recognition can be a valuable reward particularly for businesses seeking to add value to their brand by being seen to support a good cause. Social media recognition was the basis of my campaign reward system.
  16. Tip 4: Do a 'soft launch' on your personal social networks such as Facebook first. Let your friends know about your upcoming crowdfunding project and ask them to support you. As well as posting the crowdfunding project link on Facebook, consider using Messenger to reach friends 'enmasse' and increase the chances they will see your campaign (as not everyone will see your Facebook post). Then, when you do your 'public' launch you will already have people and donations behind you and instant momentum. I did this successfully with the first appeal, but due to time constraints skipped this step with the second appeal and believe this had a bearing on the outcome.
  17. Tip 5: Use your social media campaign to raise awareness about your cause as well as to raise funds. Share different story angles for your campaign and add relevant #hashtags to reach people interested in that topic. For example, I used the hashtags #IDRC2014 to reach conference organisers and attendees:
  18. At #IDRC2014 I will influence world policy for social media in disasters, but need help to get there.  http://bit.ly/UMZRB3  #smem...
  19. #smem to reach people interested in social media for emergency management:
  20. Wld you like to see a world where social media disaster alerts are issued to all? Help me present at #IDRC2014  http://bit.ly/UMZRB3  #smem
  21. #VOST to promote our message about the importance of digital volunteers and to reach people interested in virtual operations support teams for emergency management:
  22. At #IDRC2014 I plan to promote the role of digital volunteers. But I need help to get there. Can you assist?  http://bit.ly/UMZRB3  #VOST
  23. and #accessibility and #a11y to highlight the need for social media disaster messages to be accessible for people with disabilities and to reach people interested in accessibility issues. Stuck for hashtags? Checkout hashtags.org.
  24. Tip 6: Use the #crowdfunding hashtag. This will increase the chance that social media channels dedicated to crowdfunding will share your posts and help broaden your reach. I had good traction using this hashtag.
  25. Timeline Photos - Byron Bay Social Media | Facebook
    Timeline Photos - Byron Bay Social Media | Facebook
  26. Tip 7: Make your crowdfunding campaign your social media channel profile pic. This way you will raise awareness every time people visit your channel home page. Here's an example of my Twitter profile during the campaign.
  27. And my Facebook cover photo:
  28. Tip 8: Use multiple social media channels to broaden your reach. As well as your current channels in which you already have a following, also utilise a highly public channel such as Twitter to enable you to reach new people other than your existing followers. I used a blog, Twitter, Facebook, Google+, YouTube and LinkedIn.
  29. Hi All, I’ve been accepted to present the +Emergency 2.0 Wiki at the +UNISDR sponsored Global Disaster...
  30. Tip 9: Add a photo to your message. Social media posts with images receive much higher visibility and shares. Posting a screenshot of your crowdfunding appeal is an effective way to get your message across in a visual way and create a sense of urgency.
  31. Tip 10: Create a video for your campaign. People want to see you and hear about your project. It doesn't need to be 'super pro looking' and you can quickly and easily film it yourself using your computer cam. Check out videos for similar projects to yours for ideas. As well as embedding it on your crowdfunding page, also share the link via social media. Remember to add the link to the crowdfunding appeal in your video (as an annotation) or to the video description.
  32. Pozible appeal to travel to present at #IDRC2014
  33. Tip 11: Ask people to share your post. Research shows that people like to use social media to raise awareness of causes they care about. People in your networks who may not be able to financially support your campaign are still highly likely to share your post. On Twitter people respond well to a request to 'RT'.
  34. Tip 12: Thank people who share your posts. People love to be thanked for sharing your posts and it encourages others to share too. Remember to do this on all channels, including Facebook. On my personal Facebook page, which you can't see here as it is private, I spent a lot of time thanking friends who shared my link by directly liking and commenting on their posts on their timeline. Here are examples of Twitter share thank you's:
  35. Tip 13. Thank people who pledge to your campaign. NB: While many people are happy to be thanked for their pledge on more 'private' sites like Facebook, they may not want to be thanked via more 'public' sites such as Twitter. An efficient way to identify who you can publicly thank on all social media channels is to add social media recognition as a reward. (See Tip 3). Remember to add relevant #hashtags to your thank you posts to broaden the reach.
  36. Thanks so much for your pledge @Reputelligence and for the shoutout for my Pozible campaign to present @emergency20wiki at #IDRC2014 :)
  37. A huge thank you @HoratioNelson for yr pledge for my @Pozible campaign to present @emergency20wiki at global disaster forum #IDRC2014 #smem
  38. Thank You +Joanna Lane +Kerry McGoldrick for supporting my #crowdfunding appeal to present +Emergency...
  39. Huge thank you +EmergencyAUS +Philippe Borremans   +Craig Thomler for supporting my #crowdfunding appeal...
  40. Thank you shoutout to crowdfunding key ...
    Thank you shoutout to crowdfunding key ...
  41. Tip 14: Do a countdown in the final 3 days and ask people to share your post (see Tip 11).
  42. Tip 15: Celebrate success! NB: Even if you have reached your target early, it is a good idea to wait until the campaign is finished before you celebrate success, because people can still give to support you (I'm sure you will agree extra donations are always welcome) and you don't want to dissuade people from continuing to give to help your project (I made this mistake with the first campaign).
  43. Success! Last night we reached the +Pozible campaign target to secure my speaking spot to present +Emergency...
  44. Tip 16: Add an image of the target reached to highlight success. An effective way to do this is to take a screenshot of your campaign and add a message overlay with the words 'thank you' and 'target reached'.
  45. Tip 17: Thank people again through a news update as you are about to embark on your successfully funded project.
  46. I’m thrilled to share that I am flying to Switzerland tomorrow to present +Emergency 2.0 Wiki  at  #...
  47. Excited to be presenting today, 8.30am at #IDRC2014 on a whole of community approach to using social media for disaster #resilience #smem...
  48. Tip 18: If your initiative involves a public presentation, add a slide for key crowdfunding supporters. NB: You will need to get permission from your supporters (see Tip 13). Ask someone to take a photo of you presenting the supporter slide and share it via social media.
  49. Post your presentation on a presentation sharing site such as Slideshare and share the link via social media.
  50. Tip 19: Embed your presentation with crowdfunding supporter slide on your website. We posted the presentation on the Wiki Events page:
  51. the Wiki policy submissions page:
  52. and posted the link on the Wiki Library Public Policy Papers and Discussions section:
  53. Tip 20: Write a followup post and thank your supporters for helping make your project a reality.
  54. Tip 21. Create a Storify post as a thank you. As you can see this is a great way to capture social media mentions of key supporters and give them another thankyou! You can also create a blog post embedding your Storify post (see how I've embedded it on my blog byronbaysocialmedia.net.au).
  55. Finally, I'd like to extend a thank you shoutout to everyone who made my Emergency 2.0 Wiki presentation at this critical global disaster conference possible. Together, we are making our world safer!
  56. Through my consultancy Byron Bay Social Media I help business, nonprofits and government use social media to build their brand, reach new customers, and create brand advocates. I offer strategy, training, coaching and implementation, customised to meet your business objectives. I also specialise in helping organisations plan and leverage social good activities to build brand profile and turn customers into advocates. To find out more, please visit my services page.