Originally Published at Entrepreneur.com on June 4, 2014
Here is the worst-kept secret in crowdfunding: Social media is vital to its success. Twitter is perfect for crowdfunding if used correctly because of its reach and the speed with which news can be spread. But like everything else in the world, it is only effective if it's used correctly.
Here are five basic rules to harness Twitter for your crowdfunding campaign:
1. Build relationships on Twitter before you launch the campaign. Start cultivating followers well before you start crowdsourcing funds. Follow people who could be potential donors and many will follow your account back.
Post interesting content so that potential donors will pay attention to you before the launch. Be sure to interact with their posts. Send them @messages and retweet their posts to build a relationship whereby these individuals will be more likely to retweet your tweets promoting your crowdfunding project down the road.
Do the same with media people if you would like them to spread the word about your project. There is no better way to gain access to a journalist than through Twitter. But you have to establish a relationship first. Do your research, find those writers and bloggers who are appropriate (such as people writing content related to your company's focus), and follow them, retweet their posts and interact with them before the campaign's launch.
Then when your campaign launches, you can pitch these writers or editors the idea of doing a story about your campaign. Or ask influential bloggers to retweet your post.
2. Tweet often. Twitter is a moving target. If your post does not hit a follower's feed when that person is looking, the post is likely lost and gone forever as far as that person is concerned. Sending one tweet a day is not enough. Even tweeting about the campaign in the morning and again at the day's end means 95 percent of your Twitter followers won't see the tweets.
During the campaign tweet similar messages (but not the same one) at least four times a day -- at a variety of hours -- to catch everyone. No matter what you tweet, be sure to provide a link to your crowdfunding project in every post.
In addition, use craft additional tweets each day to thank donors for contributions, give progress reports and updates, provide links to media or blog coverage and announce the launch of new videos or rewards. Use Twitter as the news feed it's intended to be.
3. Ask people to retweet. Tweets go viral based on retweets. When your followers tell their followers about your campaign, you get into a secondary market of donors. If those people then retweet posts, you have hit the home run of crowdfunding: entering the tertiary market of donors in huge numbers.
But most people rarely retweet anything unless it's compelling news or they are asked to do so. You would be surprised, however, how easy it is to have something retweeted if you simply ask. Add “please retweet” or “please RT” to the end of every tweet about your campaign.
4. Tweet everything you post on Facebook. Don’t assume that the people reading your Facebook posts are the same individuals scanning your tweets. Post the same information on both social networks because your audience may be different on each channel.
Most people link their Facebook account to their Twitter account so that the posts on one will show up on the other. Don't just rely on this, though. If Facebook posts your message on Twitter, the link on the tweet will go to your Facebook page not to the crowdfunding campaign page. Forcing people to jump through this small hoop to contribute to a crowdfunding project is a bad idea. You have to make it easy for them.
5. Use hashtags to help spread the word. In the twittersphere, hashtags will let anyone easily find the crowdfunding project, making it easier for tweets to be retweeted and for spreading the word. Yes, #crowdfunding is a good generic hashtag. But having a special hashtag just for your campaign is a sound idea. Then be sure to use it in every tweet.