Diversification of funding is a critical need today. The grants that can fund an entire project or all of an investigator’s research are highly competitive, so what do you do? Many solutions are available and one – which has become popular with educational institutions and not-for-profit organizations – is crowdfunding. To be successful, however, a well-organized and carefully managed social media campaign must accompany your efforts. Universities across the U.S. have begun to train faculty to develop campaigns. If you are not in one of these institutions, or want to take the initiative, the following tips will give you a great start:
Choose the Right Platform
The main platforms are probably familiar to you: Facebook, Google+, Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube. Do your homework and review the avenues that seem to be a good fit for your campaign, but keep your selections to three or four accounts. Most full-time employees can only manage a handful of accounts.
Build the Right Campaign
Plan your campaign goals as carefully as you would your research goals. Investigate and choose the type of campaign that works for you. This could mean posting videos to YouTube and notifying your audience via Twitter, or posting updates from four different platforms three times a day. Many tools, such as Hootsuite, can assist you in getting organized.
Create Worthwhile Content
Your content must connect with your audience and be high quality. Cutting edge research and hot issues that appear in the media are topics that will pique almost anyone’s interest. Keep in mind that new social media users will likely need to spend more time developing an audience than creating content.
Grow Your Audience
Growing your follower group is perhaps the most significant undertaking of a social media campaign. Your content may be compelling, but if only ten people see your post, it will be virtually impossible to get a return on the time you’ve invested. As with other steps in the process, many tools tailored to various platforms are available with a range of free or paid services.
Analyze Past Content to Improve Posts
After a few weeks of posts, take a look at your metrics – the measureable aspects of your campaign. Track this information to help you narrow or shift your focus to accommodate the content to which your audience responds. Some platforms can even conduct an analysis before you post!
Include Visuals with Posts
Including a graphic or photo is an excellent way to enhance the performance of a social media post. Posts with a visual included have been experimentally shown to draw much more attention.
Remember that you are trying to persuade your audience to help fund your research. You must provide regular updates to reward followers. Be sure to keep your posts relevant, interesting, and valuable for your audience.
Use Analytics Tools
Hundreds of tools have been created for the express purpose of analyzing campaign successes and failures. Use them. Many are free and sometimes part of the site itself, while others provide a third-party analysis. Don’t just collect reports; read them and translate them into action.
Timing Is Key
Find out the best days and times to post for your industry and follower demographics. For many organizations, this is Monday through Friday between 10 am and 4 pm.
The relationship between donor and researcher is one reason social media marketing is powerful. Foster these relationships by posting updates that your audience wants to read, using a regular schedule, and avoiding a never-ending stream of sales pitches.
Crowdfunding is well within the realm of possibility for many types of projects and research. Running an efficient social media campaign is, perhaps, the primary method necessary to make your crowdfunding event a success. When executed correctly, social media campaigns can yield a high volume of donors, thereby helping you meet your funding goals.
Read about how crowdfunding might work for you here.