What can you get from interacting with a virtual stranger?
One of the essential elements of equity crowdfunding for startups and real estate developers is fast and reliable communications with their crowds. I think of how many businesses don’t take advantage of the power of Web 2.0 social media tools available to them for free or at a very low cost, and if they do take advantage of them it is only to blast out their message in an antiquated 20th Century one way advertising message.
Social media is such a powerful tool, but rarely properly used by entrepreneurs and developers to build, excite, and engage their crowds. I dare say the problem is not the technology, but the internal culture of the organization. The culture of communication, transparency, and collaboration must pervade your organization from top to bottom or tremendous opportunity to build powerful online communities through social media engagement will be missed.
Building community through social media engagement means not only blasting out advertising messages, but listening to the what your crowd is saying about your brand. Who better to get input from than current crowd members on product or service development. Think about the level of buy-in that a crowd member has and the amount of input into a new product or service they will have and how that buy-in can be translated into creating a brand advocate.
The value of brand advocates can’t be overstated in the age of social business and equity crowdfunding. When the brand advocate tells friends about a product or service they had input into that person is much more likely to try the product or service and then tell their network about it and you have created a second tier brand advocate by producing a high quality product or service through customer engagement. The value of customer engagement cannot be overstated.
Intigrating social media into a crowdfunding campaign
The value that social media brings to crowdfunding and especially crowd building is immense. I would venture to say that social media is one of the most important aspects of crowdfunding. Each and every crowdfunding campaign should begin with at least a 3 month (90 day) pre-launch that is social media heavy. Reaching out to your crowd using social media should begin with the Big Three Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube. The reason I choose these three as the basis of any crowdfunding campaign is the shear size of these platforms.
Managing several different accounts across the web takes time, but it’s a necessary step towards success. I also recommend the social media software Hootsuite hootsuite.com which allows you to manage multuple accounts from one dashboard. There are several different software as a service platforms I recommend, but the is the stuff of a different blog post.
There are a few must have social media websites to join if you have not done so already. These include Facebook, Twitter and Youtube. For entrepreneurs, Google and LinkedIn are also advised. Focusing on the first three, let’s take a look at some statistics that illustrate social networking’s potential:
189-million Facebook users are on “mobile only”
Youtube has a greater viewership of those between the ages of 18-34 than any cable network in the US
The fastest growing demographic on Twitter is 55-64;
this same age group comprises 46% of Facebook users and 56% of Google+
Every second, two people sign-up on LinkedIn
Knowledge is key, so continuously browse the web for data for it will ensure that your social media campaign remains relevant, intelligent and targeted. Two great sites to research trends are Mashable and Hypebot, but some industries may need to rely on more specific feeds.
For Twitter and Facebook, be creative and use the tools available to you. The average user may not think to create a community page or a twitition, but these are both powerful and sharable tools that businesses use regularly. Remember that it’s not necessarily about the quantity of people in your network but the quality as well. For instance, finding “amplifiers” — influential social media enthusiasts — will help spread your word faster.
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