At Mightycause, people often ask us how they can reach their fundraising goal without posting on social media. The simple answer is that personal fundraisers cannot reach their goals without utilizing social media. There are, of course, exceptions to every rule but we have yet to see a successful personal fundraiser who did not share on social media. We totally understand that it can feel strange, awkward, and even embarrassing to ask for help, but… well, that’s what crowdfunding is: Asking for help, publicly.
So, if you’ve decided that crowdfunding is the best option for you, you’ll need to find a way to make social media work for you.
Whether you’re already Twitter-famous or have a Facebook account you don’t use often, we’re here to help you use social media to make your fundraiser a success.
Find Your Audience
This should be easy for most of us: What social media platforms do you use? Are you on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat? If you’re an active user of any social media platforms, you have a built-in audience there.
You may be tempted to start using a new social media platform to market your fundraiser, but it’s much easier to meet your audience where they are than to build an audience on a new platform. It’s certainly worth investigating any platforms you’re interested in using, but keep in mind that you’ve spent time building a following and growing relationships with other users on the platforms you’ve been using. It’s hard to quickly replicate that on a new platform so your time may be better spent focusing on the audience you already have on the platforms you’re already comfortable using.
How to Win at Facebook
Facebook is the biggest social media platform out there, with a whopping 1.71 billion users in 2016.
Most of us have a Facebook account, and that account is one of the most crucial tools you can use to promote your online fundraiser. Think about it: you have friends, family, acquaintances, coworkers and more gathered together in once place. You can talk to them all at once. This makes it so much easier to promote your fundraiser.
But because Facebook is so big and has so many users, with everyone competing for attention in newsfeeds, it can be harder to be seen on Facebook than you think. Winning at the Facebook game takes some forethought and skill. We’ve compiled tips and tricks you can use to improve your skills and become a Facebook master, getting likes, comments, clicks, and most importantly, donations.
There’s a lot of know about this subject, so we’ve got a full article devoted to using Facebook to promote your fundraiser. Get the full scoop on using Facebook to promote your online fundraiser here!
How to Be #Awesome at Twitter
Twitter is a social media platform for busy people: You have 140 characters to say what you want so you don’t have to spend time reading more than two sentences at a time. (Your posts are called “tweets.”)
Twitter users have a feed that shows tweets from people they follow in the order they happen, and feeds move fast and furious. Twitter is where news stories break, memes begin, celebrity feuds play out, jokes go viral and you can easily interact with your favorite athletes, musicians, actors, or reality TV stars. Twitter can take some getting used to when you first try it out, but most people end up loving the quick-and-easy format of Twitter.
Other social media sites:
Instagram: Instagram is a free photo-sharing app that has over 100 million users. You can share photos and captions either publicly or just with the people you allow access. Instagram users see photos in a real-time, chronological feed, with a (usually truncated) caption. Instagram is famous for adding photographic filters to your images (although many users prefer #nofilter).
Users can comment on each other’s posts, but you’ll need to download another app (like Repost) to share someone else’s photo.
You can also share videos up to 60 seconds long.
Instagram is popular, fun, and easy to use — but it can be a little tricky to use to promote your fundraiser since Instagram is all about photos. So here’s how to stand out on Instagram:
- Go public: Like other social media sites, you’ll want to make sure your account is public so people can find your posts and you can increase your reach on social media. Unlike Facebook, you can’t change the privacy settings of each post, so you will need to make your whole account public.
- “Link in the bio!”: You’ll see this a lot in Instagram posts where people want you to see something — it’s because Instagram won’t put hyperlinks in captions. So, if you want to link to your personal fundraiser, add it to your bio on your Instagram page. When you’re posting about your fundraiser, let your followers know that they can find the link there.
- Use hashtags: The easiest way to boost your Instagram post is to use hashtags. Like on Twitter, any word can be turned into a hashtag on Instagram by typing # in front of it. Check out this support article to learn how to use hashtags on Instagram. Using a hashtag will add your photo to a feed of other photos that have used that hashtag, which makes it easy for people to view and “like” your photos. You can use 30 hashtags in one post on Instagram, so there’s a lot of opportunity to been seen with hashtags. (Just make sure you’re using relevant hashtags!)
- Link it up: Instagram offers easy integration with other social media platforms, such as Facebook, so you can share your Instagram posts on other platforms each time you post. Here’s how to link your other social media accounts to your Instagram.
Google+: Do you have a Gmail account? Then you probably have a Google+ account too.
Google+ makes it easy to connect with your email contacts socially (by adding them to your circle), and adds a layer of social networking across all of Google’s services (like Gmail, YouTube, Google Hangout, Google Calendars, Android, Google Maps, Google Play store, etc.). You can add contacts to your “circles,” find others with similar interests through communities, and make posts to let those in your circle know what’s happening in your life.
Here are some cool ways to use Google+ to promote your fundraiser:
- Reach out to former classmates and coworkers. On your Google+ profile, you can add workplaces and schools, making it super easy to find people you were friendly with at work and school and adding them to your circles. This can be an especially great option if you don’t have a huge social network and want to expand — Google+ makes it easy to connect with old school and work buddies!
- Join Google+ Communities: In the olden days, people connected with strangers with similar interests online through message boards, email lists and Yahoo groups. Now you can use Google+ Communities. You can find and join communities for nearly every interest under the sun — there are groups for fans of WWI planes, new moms, “Lord of the Rings” fans, coin collectors, parkour practitioners, gardeners. You name it, there’s a community for it. So you can expand your social network by finding communities to join on Google+. Make new friends and add them to your circles! You can also seek out communities for people whose interests are relevant to your fundraiser — for instance, if you’re fundraising for your children, it’s totally appropriate to post about it in a communities for moms.
- Stream it: Everyone has a “stream” of updates from people in their circles, so post updates about your fundraiser!
LinkedIn: LinkedIn is a professional networking site and has over 400 million registered users. It is the place to keep in touch with coworkers, network with people in your field, and find new jobs.
So, since LinkedIn is pretty buttoned-down and conservative compared to other social media sites, how can you use it to promote your personal fundraiser?
- Keep it professional: Most of us know that what we post online isn’t private and can be found by our bosses, coworkers, and potential employers. But LinkedIn is a site just for professional networking so make sure you only post things you’d be okay with a potential employer seeing. So, a fundraiser to pay off legal fees from a DUI would not be something you want to promote on LinkedIn, but a fundraiser for start-up costs to start your own business or develop an app would be perfectly suited to LinkedIn.
- Network: LinkedIn is all about networking, so find professional groups that you can join and post to. There are tons of groups on LinkedIn. Here’s how to find and join a group, and make sure you’re following best practices for sharing links in LinkedIn groups.
- Blogs away: You can share the news that you’re running an online fundraiser by posting an update or a blog to your LinkedIn profile. Your network will see that you’ve posted an update or blog when they log in, and may even receive an email notification as well. Plus, this is a great way to get potential donors familiar with your cause and why it’s important to you. This might make them more inclined to give if they already understand your connection before being sent the link to the fundraiser.
Tumblr: Tumblr is a social media platform that encompasses a lot of features — it’s a blog, a social community, and hosts all kinds of pages. You have your own personal blog you can customize, a dashboard where you can follow other users you find interesting, and you can comment on and reblog posts you like. The ways you can use Tumblr are as diverse as Tumblr’s users. This post from Mashable is a good introduction if you’re a Tumblr newbie.
Here’s how you can make it work to promote your fundraiser:
- Decide how you want to use Tumblr. There are lots of different kinds of Tumblr users: some dedicate their page to a single theme (such as a fandom, a political issue, nostalgia), some use it as a personal blog, some use it to curate content they like from elsewhere on the internet. The possibilities are endless! So, if you’re new to Tumblr, you may want to use it as a general blog that you can weave your fundraiser into, or you can use it for a specific purpose like documenting your battle with an illness or something else related to your fundraiser.
- Make connections. Connect your Tumblr account to your Facebook page, Twitter account, and Gmail account so you can see which of your friends are using Tumblr. Find them and follow them!
- Tag it: Tags are to Tumblr what hashtags are to Twitter. Tags are relevant keywords separated with commas that will appear at the bottom of your post. Tagging your posts will put your post in a dashboard with all other posts using the same tag — it’s a great way to expand your followers and find others who have similar interests. So, if you’re fundraising to help pay for medical costs due to a chronic illness, you may want to tag your post “chronic illness” so that others with chronic illnesses can easily find your post. If your post is interesting and insightful, you may even find that people you don’t know start reblogging it, which helps you find new audiences.
Periscope: Periscope is a live-streaming app that you can integrate with your Twitter account. You can use it to record messages to your followers, do live Q&As, and more. Think about what would be interesting to your followers to watch happen live: If you’re fundraising for the cost of attending a basketball camp, why not have a friend record you playing basketball to show your followers what you’ve got? If you’re fundraising to support your artwork, why not record yourself creating a piece of art?
Using Periscope to promote your fundraiser requires a bit of creativity, but there are lots of possibilities and cool ways to make it work for you.
Snapchat: Snapchat gained popularity (and headlines) for allowing teens to send pictures that self-destructed as soon as they were opened, erasing evidence. But it’s grown since its inception, and now there’s so much more you can do with Snapchat. This rundown from Wired is a great introduction to what Snapchat can do (and why it’s so addictive). You may have to think outside the box to make Snapchat work to promote a personal fundraiser (since your “snaps” are ephemeral by design) so while we wouldn’t recommend using Snapchat as the primary platform for promoting your fundraiser, you may be able to weave your fundraiser into your Snapchat use if you’re already an active user.
Pinterest: Pinterest is a virtual pinboard site where you can “pin” images you like. It’s an image-based platform, and you can add descriptions to an image to remind people why they “pinned” the image in the first place. Popular ways to use Pinterest are creating “boards” with wedding ideas, DIY and arts-and-craft how-tos, recipes, fashion, beauty products and ideas. It can be a challenge to use Pinterest to promote a fundraiser, but it could be a great place to share any striking images you have related to your fundraiser (with a link to your fundraiser in the description).
There are even more social media platforms that the ones we’ve listed. But don’t get overwhelmed — you don’t have to use all of these platforms, or even more than one. Stick to the platforms you’re comfortable with, where you already have an audience, and concentrate on growing connections and using social media to conduct personal outreach about your fundraiser. Those connections are what will make your fundraiser successful because that’s what personal fundraising is all about.
There are some websites out there that offer to help promote your fundraiser… for a fee. But the cool thing about social media is that most platforms are 100% free to use and any user can be skilled at using them. There’s no special knowledge that a company has that isn’t available to you for free. Social media levels the playing field. And at Mightycause we’re all about empowering you to do things for yourself, whether it’s making a fundraising page or promoting your fundraiser. So don’t fall for these traps. With the information and advice given here, persistence, creativity, and willingness to put yourself out there, you can reach your fundraising goals through social media marketing.