Crowdfunding is one of the trendiest ways for companies, entrepreneurs and inventors to launch their concept to the public and get their intended audience directly involved in the funding, usually in exchange for perks (or even equity via some European companies). Social media campaigns specific to crowdfunding is not something we’ve had a ton of experience with on a larger scale, but when our LA-based clients reached out to us for help with their unique campaign, we couldn’t say no.
The client had an already established brand with a strong, engaged following both on and offline, so right off the bat we knew we wouldn’t be starting at zero. If we’re honest, we likely wouldn’t have taken on this crowdfunding project if there wasn’t an existing follower base, as their lofty goals would have been quite a challenge to achieve if we were starting from scratch. We came into it with confidence that we could help make it work. Once we established our need for a Social Advertising budget and access to multiple creative items for unique sharable content throughout the duration of the campaign, we sealed the deal.
Their goal was to raise $75,000 USD ($100,000 CAD) in one month, and we were only brought into the team a short time before we launched, so even with all the advantages it was still going to be a challenge to hit those numbers. The TL;DR is that we made it (!), but the real question is, how did we do it? We’ll be breaking down the social media tactics and strategies that we used which can, for the most part, be applied to any Social Media campaign. Let’s go.
If you’d prefer to watch the video, we got you:
What did they want to do?
Our client is in the craft beer space, and over the past 6 years they’ve built an impressive movement all across the US and beyond. Based in Los Angeles, their mission is to increase diversity and inclusion in craft beer via authentic cultural ownership; for the crowdfunding campaign, they’re essentially building a brewery in their hometown of Inglewood, an area not traditionally associated with craft beer, and it’s also not a cheap endeavour. They were awarded a €200,000 grant from a Scottish-based brewery to kick start their operation, and they wanted to raise another $75,000 USD in order to generate a genuine community buy-in to the business, as this is key to their mission. They’d already decided to run a crowdfunding campaign before we came on board, they’d set up their Indiegogo account and planned out all the various tiers of perks, so we moved right into the strategy.
Content Creation & Distribution
We knew content would be critical to the success of this campaign. The very first thing we did was run an audit on the content that they had available, and noted what needed to be created. Since the campaign revolved around the two founders and they were based in LA while we’re in Montreal, they had to either create the content themselves or hire photographers and videographers locally. They ended up doing a little from column A and a little from column B, particularly the latter during the nationwide crawl/tour they did to promote the launch of the campaign.
All other content required was handled in-house by High Season, including designing branded images and videos for use across social (mainly Instagram Stories). We helped them understand that in order to capture the confidence of the consumers, they’d have to present themselves with the highest level of professionalism, or their audience wouldn’t be inclined to hand over their hard-earned cash for the cause.
As we were brought in very close to the beginning of the campaign, we didn’t have much time to mess around. We quickly figured out which pieces of content were actually able to be created, and then put together a roll out/launch strategy based on that information. The founders worked fast and hard to get a lot of it done, and their dedication to making it work really allowed us to maximize the quality and quantity of the content for distribution.
They had a fair sized Social Advertising budget which we used to hit new markets and spread the brand story beyond their organic reach. We used various ad sets with two main segments – cold audiences in particular age groups with specific interests related to their target demo, and warm audiences that typically yield a higher conversion rate (for example, anyone who had previously engaged with their social pages or who had visited the Indiegogo page but hadn’t donated yet). We advertised on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter, the latter of which performed exceptionally well as there’s a strong beer demographic there that they weren’t previously tapping into. We leveraged their engaged community and by the end of the 6-week campaign, we gained over 6,000 new followers across their three platforms (Facebook, Instagram and Twitter) and over 2 million impressions.
We really leant on Instagram Stories for this campaign, for a few reasons: Instagram was their strongest network, the Instagram algorithm favours Stories, the swipe-up function is invaluable, and you can get away with a lot more Stories posts in a day than you can in-feed. We used Stories daily, and we used it a lot. We reposted a lot of the UGC (User-Generated Content) from the community everyday, making sure to leverage the social proof of every campaign contributor who tagged them so that other followers on the fence would be more inclined to “get in” on the action. When they were touring to promote the campaign and do beer tastings, Stories became the #1 place to follow along. We ensured they were documenting daily – things like the actual travel (airports, Ubers, hotels), the venue, the party, the DJs, the attendees and the beer. We also had them post about any other work they were doing to prepare for funding the brewery, planning events across the globe or dealing with having their beer made, so their audience could see just how much work the founders were putting in and to reinforce that their donations would be spent wisely.
We balanced out the day-to-day life posts from the founders with some designed Stories focusing on the campaign, the perks and reiterating their brand mission and vision. They were designed in their brand colours, and we added them to a unique Stories Highlight to provide a frictionless experience for potential new followers and donors. We also specifically pushed the perks of the campaign via Stories with a swipe up to purchase, particularly the weekly collectible items in the final stages, as some people are motivated by the actual items they’ll receive in return for their donation to the campaign versus just relating to the story or enjoying the brand itself.
Influencer Marketing was only a mild contributor to this campaign. There wasn’t a specific budget put aside for Influencers, and since the founders have a number of high profile friends they were hoping to leverage those relationships to support their campaign. On the chance that these didn’t come through, we put together a strategy to leverage their community to act as the Influencers (some people in their community were). On the day the crowdfunding was to launch, we asked their followers to wear their branded merch and post about it online so that the Instagram (primarily) craft beer community was bombarded by their message. This generated a ton of interaction and chatter, and they brought in over $15,000 USD on that one day alone.
The final component is the organic Social Media strategy, which complemented the paid advertising, Influencer Marketing and press. We began the campaign by posting three times a day with the aim to keep organic posts coming continuously as we knew we’d be fighting against the algorithm (which wasn’t as restricted back in March and April as it is now). We noticed that images featuring the founders received around triple the engagement of any other types of posts, so we pushed them to keep creating content with themselves in it, whether it be via photo shoots or IGTV videos.
As we mentioned, Instagram was always their primary network but we ended up building strong and very engaged Twitter and Facebook followings by the end of the campaign, both from scratch. They were receiving a ton of DMs daily with messages of support, funding offers, press opportunities and more, and many of these came through via Facebook which was somewhat unexpected but a great takeaway. The growth on Facebook and Twitter in turn helped the growth on Instagram as followers tended to merge across the networks, and overall it really assisted us in broadening our reach amongst various demographics. We ensured they were replying to all comments and all DMs in order to make people feel seen and heard, and the side effect was it helped the posts rank higher with all the constant engagement.
The images and videos from the tour stops, which spanned across the US into the UK, were generally edited and posted within 48 hours of the event in order to capitalize on the excitement generated and encourage more campaign donations. This was quite an effective strategy, it worked a lot like a touring musician, and on top of that they also offered in-person “secret” perks at the events which we promoted via social to encourage attendance and on-site donations, a very unique approach to crowdfunding.
We also tapped into something that’s very touchy – Reddit. This can really go one of two ways, and luckily for us we had the perfect offering for a very specific audience and it went over really well. There were suitable subreddits that worked well for our client’s content, people who shared the same beliefs and values, and we generated a bunch of additional traction from taking this educated risk.
As with any good campaign, it all came down to the wire in the last 48 hours. We reserved ad budget for this situation just in case we hadn’t hit the target yet, and it was basically like Election Night. It came right down to the minute, we dropped new perks, dedicated all ads to warm audiences, posted constantly, pushed and reposted on Stories, we had a ton of community support and shares across all networks, and thankfully in the end we reached the goal with only a few hours to spare.
When all was said and done, it was the strength of their brand and their incredible work ethic that made our job a lot easier. We had a lot of goodwill to leverage and work with and so without that, it really could have gone either way. All of these strategies combined with their existing following truly helped us pull this off for the client. If you’re considering crowdfunding for your business, do your research, ensure you’re coming into it with a strong brand and community to tap into (or a plan to build one), create a social strategy, set aside an ad budget, get your perks together, snatch up some Influencers, prepare a ton of engaging content and a full roll-out plan ahead of time, and you should have some luck.
The strategies applied here were not unique to a crowdfunding campaign, and can be used to amplify your brand online and mobilize your audience to perform the actions your business needs to thrive. Having trouble gaining traction on Social Media? Talk to us about developing a strategy to connect you with the customers and clients you want.