Last month, I held a seminar at the 2nd Annual Golden Door International Film Festival of Jersey City on my three Ps for a successful indie film campaign, that of a solid pitch, some cool perks, and plenty of promotion. As I got into that last section, I asked how many people in the audience have a Facebook and Twitter account?" A few people raised their hands. Then I asked how many of them are active on those networks, posting content relevant to indie film at least once a day. Some hands went down.
Then I told them an absolute truth about crowdfunding: "If you're not active on the social networks, then crowdfunding is probably not for you."
A few people were shocked by the boldness of the statement, but the bottom line is that crowdfunding thrives because of email, Twitter, Facebook, Google Plus, and perhaps even LinkedIn. And while there are statistics that prove campaigns can be successful solely through email updates, provided your network is large and organized, a strong "social life" is a must when crowdfunding for a product, startup, or creative project.
Imagine for a moment how much money you'd need to promote yourself to the public without Twitter or Facebook. You might have to pay for an ad in the local paper, and that can cost quite a penny. You may need to host a cocktail party, which may run you up some substantial funds as well. You may even cold call an investor or two, treat them for a night out on the town, just so you can launch into the pitch for your project and maybe leave their company with a nice check. These are all risks, and they'll set you back some quan for sure.
Chances are if you're crowdfunding, it's because you don't have that kind of money to play spendthrift with. With social networking, the campaign itself becomes the cocktail party; the pitch video is your opening speech; your perks the hors d'oeuvres; an email blast, a few Tweets throughout the day, and a Facebook status update serve not as ads, but as headlines in your very own newspaper. Think of all the money social networking saves you. No rental hall fees. No new suit. No caviar.
But this doesn't mean you should set up a Twitter account or Facebook profile just for the sake of your crowdfunding campaign. People will make the assumption that you did so only because you need money. Being social is what social networking is all about. You have to build up your core audience first by engaging in meaningful 140-character conversations with people who share your interests and by clicking "Like" on updates and Facebook pages. Become friends with the folks in your field. Retweet interesting Tweets. Help other crowdfunders with their campaigns and they'll in turn help you with yours. Today, it's most important to always be a person before a petition.
This is the investment you should make to your crowdfunding campaign, one of true significance that won't cost you a dime, but which will invite your social network to help you bring in the bucks when you start crowdfunding.