According to Kendall Almerico, writing for Entrepreneur, “gaining financial support through social media is not as simple as posting a picture of your lunch on Facebook or retweeting the latest joke from Jimmy Kimmel. Successful fundraising through social media requires planning, dedication and determination.”
Whether you’re running a rewards-based crowdfunding campaign (like preselling an item) or a simple donation fundraising campaign, the same holds true: people can’t support what they don’t know about.
Here are a few tips to help get you on track, and make sure the effort you spend pays off.
Step 1: Clean up.
Make sure your profiles are up to date on each social media platform you intend to use. As Almerico notes, it’s very important to build a following weeks or months before you launch a campaign. Building your community early mobilizes a following, and these connections will be primed to support you when you launch your campaign. If your campaign is already live, it’s too late to start from step 1.
If you’re starting from scratch, consider where your community lives. You don’t need to use every platform, you simply need to reach the people who will be the most passionate about supporting you. Make sure to take it a step further from seeing where your first degree is most active: search for relevant interest groups and try to find influencers that would be interested in your campaign, too (you can do this easily using buzzsumo.com). Remember that building a quality pool of supporters is more valuable than a large existing network without an investment in your cause.
Step 2: Get your tools ready.
Write the bulk of your social media posts before you launch your campaign. Then, create a schedule for yourself. This ensures you’re prepared and you won’t be overwhelmed trying to post in all the right places every single day of your campaign. Trust me: that can get exhausting.
There are a wide range of scheduling tools available (free and paid versions) that help you schedule, make sure your content is varied and engaging, include images, links and videos, and take some pressure off during crunch time. You can always change scheduled times, alter content, or post directly to social media platforms if something timely comes up.
It’s essential that you post several times per week on all of your chosen platforms. Keep your content fresh: mix links to relevant articles or involved organizations’ publications, videos, eye-catching images, and so on. Try out different language to help from resorting to outright begging or getting boring. At the end of each week review what post types and appeals get the most traction and refine as you go.
Also, remember some platforms require higher volumes of posting than others. For example, Twitter moves faster than Facebook: according to Wiselytics, the half-life of a tweet is 24 minutes compared to 90 minutes for a Facebook post. Make sure you’re catering to the characteristics of each platform, not just applying the same tactics across the board. The bottom line is: don’t be afraid to post often but divide your efforts wisely.
While there are many ‘expert’ opinions on the best times of day to post to various platforms, the best way for you to know when your community is online is to watch their activity for a while. This is one of many reasons that getting prepared well in advance of your campaign’s launch is crucial for reaching your audience and being successful. Check out the integrated dashboards that most social channels offer (like Facebook Insights) to see your impact and track your reach day to day.
Step 4: Invite support and be creative.
Nothing is more compelling than being the real you. Here a few pro tips to shine:
Post at least twice a day. Mix up your content so concurrent posts aren’t always hard asks. A good rule of thumb is 1 in 4 should be a hard ask; 3 in 4 should be other engaging content.
Get excited – it’s infectious! Excitement can be upbeat or serious; if you’re raising funds for an emergency, channel the urgency into your message. If you’re raising funds for something else, help people become your advocates by sharing your excitement with them and giving them the opportunity (and ask) to share with others.
Asking for money can be challenging. Remember: the people who believe in you want to support you. Afford them the opportunity to do so.
Always include a direct link to your campaign page.
Show your true colors! Evoke emotion and be genuine by posting pictures of yourself and your team, sharing videos of the impact of your progress, and sharing fun content you find relevant.
Step 5: Roll with it.
You won’t know before your campaign launches how much you’ll raise in the first 3 days. If you have guaranteed donors, you can ask them to donate early (which can help set the campaign’s trajectory to success) and that can help you understand the baseline of what you can expect to raise. But keep in mind what you may want to say on social media if:
Your campaign exceeds your goal on day 1 (or 3, or 10)
Donations aren’t coming in the way you’re expecting (how can you change your messaging?)
A community member offers unexpected rewards to your campaign
It’s a good idea to have a plan for each contingency you can think of, and be ready to adjust your messaging accordingly.
Overall, don’t let social media intimidate you. Using this medium wisely can be a huge bolster to your campaign, so think smart and you’ll watch your donor base grow!