Whenever possible, I try to link people together when I think they could be helpful to one another. The worst thing that can happen, I feel, is that two cool people get to know one another.
Marc, you see, has been developing a game that started as a board game but so desperately wants and needs to be a digital game. Not least of all because it’s a game of strategy and math that children (and their parents) love without realizing they’re doing – gasp! – maths.
He ran a crowdfunding campaign on Kickstarter, which fell short of its goal. Not for lack of interest, but it was hard to get his message out there.
Kickstarter is a great platform, don’t get me wrong. But it seems that, just perhaps, it’s gotten so large it’s more difficult for people to develop organic community there. The kind of community that can lead to successful crowdfunding campaigns for people who truly need crowdfunding to get their ideas off the ground.
So I introduced Marc to Brian, figured they could at least talk about Rockethub, which is still among the largest crowdfunding platforms. The Rockethub founders, including Brian, have a huge love for math and science and immediately took to Silo. So Marc decided to give it another shot, on this platform.
In fact, first time around, Marc’s gut told him to go with Rockethub. “I’m not the type to gravitate toward the big dog,” he told me last week. But Kickstarter was where the gaming money seemed to be going. “It was about knowing the gaming community was there and not worrying so much about that service end of it.”
It was hard to get the attention of the powers that be at Kickstarter to let them know about coverage of the campaign.
On Rockethub, the community love that came from the top down was immediately apparent. Rockethub retweeted tweets from supporters. Featured the project on its home page. Communicated with Marc about how things were going and how he might adjust the project.
Even if the project doesn’t succeed (it should! You can fuel it here!), the feeling Marc has from Rockethub is warm and fuzzy.
Is it partially because he had a personal connection? Sure. Is it partially because Rockethub isn’t as big as Kickstarter (yet)? Could well be. It’s hard for companies to scale things such as community as they grow exponentially.
So that got me wondering about how Rockethub views community.
“Community, to me, means sharing a common culture and presenting a point of view,” Brian said. And the point of view at Rockethub is threefold:
- We love to liberate ideas – from arts, science, business, and social good. Every legitimate idea deserves a home, and we’re open to idea-makers from around the world.
- Strong belief in community building. We give the chance for the community to meet and learn from each other offline. Think “high-tech” meets “high-touch”. We hold weekly events in Brooklyn and Toronto where RocketHubbers come together and talk about projects. They can discuss what’s working, what’s not when it comes to their own endeavors and funding strategies.
- Education is king. Me and the team also speak at events we love – for example, I just gave a lecture on “Crowdfunding Success Patterns” this weekend at Maker Faire. We see crowdfunding as a movement – and education is key to that movement as we continue to take crowdfunding to new spaces.
That’s nice, but how do you scale community?
“Scaling a community means giving our users the chance to connect, learn, and share with each other — and that’s totally scalable,” Brian said. “We’re growing at about 33% month over month. Even when we’re massive, the community can be self-sustaining. Look at Zappos, TOMS Shoes, Patagonia — these companies all have ravenous communities that rally around what they stand for.”
Rockethub uses an algorithm to surface projects that have a built-in community already, as those projects have a greater chance of success, he said. But if the community interacts with one another, those successful projects can help mentor smaller projects that might not have the same support base.
Brian has written about the eight steps to a successful crowdfunding campaign and shared them with me here:
- Step 1 – Commit to the Dynamic Campaign
Each crowdfunding project is different. Know that trial and error is a natural part of the process that should be embraced.
- strong>Step 2 – Reach out to your “First Followers”
Handpick 15 to 25 people in your network who love what you do and know what you are all about & have them ready to contribute right after launch; helps get things off the ground and sets the stage.
- Step 3 – Thank your “First Followers” publicly and establish a dialogue
Thanking your supporters publicly rewards them for believing in you and builds the credibility for your project as you spiral out to a wider network. Keep thanking your supporters publicly throughout your entire campaign and establish a consistent communication with fans.
- Step 4 – Spiral Out to Your Social Network
Announce your project on your email list, Facebook, Twitter, Google, LinkedIn and any other social media you use. Simply offer your network a fun journey and real value. Test your messages and be prepared to adapt your tone.
- Step 5 – Let the Story Unfold
Update your project page on a daily basis by adding blog posts and comments. Publicize and celebrate accomplished and upcoming milestones – e.g. quantitative goals (percentage of funding, number of contributors, etc.) and qualitative (blog mentions, press, etc.).
- Step 6 – Keep Them Talking
This could come through new rewards, live events and fundraisers, or other imaginative short-term campaigns. The goal is to keep your network talking and coming back to the project page.
- Step 7 – Meet the Press
Once your project has momentum, reach out to press and bloggers.
- Repeat steps 3, 4, 5, 6, and 7 until you get to the final few days of your campaign.
Step 8 - Bring it Home – Finish Strong
Messages during the last few days should be changing faster and should be delivered with more frequency. Build on your success and add a sense of urgency combined with gratitude. Be sure to thank everybody for coming along for the ride with you.
So, community can scale. You can get perfect strangers to contribute to your crowdfunding campaign. But that’s still the difficult part. Getting your immediate circle, and even your social network is one thing.
“But we still need to awaken that creeping giant,” Marc said about the strangers. “We haven’t found the right way to do it just yet.”
The key, Marc knows, is starting with the community you’ve built around yourself. Nurture it.
It won’t always get you to where you want to be, but the journey will be far more enjoyable.
Hopefully, at the end of this journey, we will get to play Silo on our smartphones. And get a little smarter.