How businesses can seek investment from their online crowd

Let’s face it. Businesses underestimate the power of the online crowd. Now I’m not saying we’re all luddites afraid of technology and innovation. The mere fact that at the time of writing this post, 46% of all businesses listed on Eureeca have been in the tech and online sector should be proof enough of this. What I’m saying is that businesses often overlook the power of their real crowd during their fundraise and tend to myopically look towards a list of 50-100 people who they know and reach out to in order to seek investment.

Who is the crowd?

At Eureeca we encourage all of our SMEs to go beyond reaching out to their first and second level connectors. Your crowd isn’t just your business clients, friends, and family. They are your customers, fans, and the people who have quietly watched your brand grow from the sidelines. It’s everyone from the acquaintances of your colleagues/staff to the people who accidentally clicked a Facebook ad of yours thinking they were going to see a picture of a cute cat. It’s the people who, at the time of your campaign, will pause for a moment and say, “Wait a minute. I actually KNOW these guys!”

But remember that as much as companies try to personify their brand, SMEs need to understand that their crowd is not a faceless, homogenous entity that reacts in the same way. Just as quickly as a company can get throngs of people to root for them can a company unknowingly commit a faux pas so terrible that an angry corporate witch hunt ensues. Tread carefully and be respectful of your fans and followers before, during, and after your fundraise.

Taking a quick look at the latest internet usage statistics, 98% of anyone who’s online uses e-mail, and more than 44 percent have mobile smartphones, and if you delve deeper into MENA’s statistics, internet penetration is at an all time high. Those figures are too large to ignore and the reality is that this is where your crowd resides.

So what can you do to get the online crowd ready to support you every step of the way during your equity crowdfunding campaign?

Examine your campaign

It’s important to carefully think about why you’re fundraising in the first place before diving into marketing your fundraise digitally. Are you raising capital to hire more specialized staff or are you expanding your operations into another market? What are your goals? Who is your target audience? Learn where your fans, clients, advocates, and investors are and what social media platforms they prefer. Start the conversation there, rather than trying to be everywhere at once.

Build up your army

You must round up your social troops well in advance of going live and inform them of what you plan to do at Eureeca. It can be a tedious task to juggle speaking to investors and handling all of your digital channels yourself, so it’s best to make sure you have your army and brand ambassadors doing the work for you beforehand. This can be your team, your close friends, and most importantly those select few customers who love your product dearly and would support anything you do. Reach out to them and engage them now so that they feel involved and empowered enough to spread the word for you without it feeling like they are doing you any favours. Once your campaign picks up speed, you’ll be surprised how rapidly your army grows, too!

Customize your message

Each channel is unique, so what you say in an email blast would be vastly different from something you post on LinkedIn. Cut and paste approaches to messaging can only do so much to spread the word before your audience gets tired of your campaign. Whatever autoposting feature you have set up to populate your social media channels should stop before you list on Eureeca. Remember, you have 90 days to raise funds. Don’t annoy your crowd on day 10.

Go forth and engage

Digital marketing is a two way street. You’re not going to employ a push-pull strategy without expecting some feedback in return. You will need to constantly monitor what people are saying about you, and you’re going to have to respond to pretty much everything that comes your way. Thank your investors and everyone who shares your message. After all, people like feeling like they’re part of something big. What better way to do that than to getting the crowd feel like they’ve helped you accomplish your crowdinvesting goal?

If you’re going to do something, do it NOW

Like all crowdfunding campaigns, you need to convey a sense of urgency because there is an impending deadline as to when you can receive funds. In our case, that’s 90 days. Due to the nature of social media being instantaneous, you need to provide real-time updates on the progress of your crowdinvesting campaign. It doesn’t matter if you’re 15% funded or 50% funded, your post at a measly 16% target might be the trigger that gets your investors to close your funding round. Don’t forget to add a call to action in some of your messaging asking your crowd to take the next step. Remind them to “click here to crowdinvest” or “share the story” or simply “spread the word.”

Be grateful

Use social media to personally thank all your investors and supporters. Payment gateways like PayPal don’t exist for equity based crowdfunding yet, which at the moment can potentially be a barrier to entry for many crowd investors. Unlike supporters of donation based crowdfunding, your crowd investors would have jumped through different kinds of compliance processes in order to invest in your business. Remember what I said earlier about your crowd not being a faceless entity? Your crowd won’t like being treated like a statistic that your market research team pulled up, so go out of your way to make sure they know how much you value their investment.

Finally, don’t lose steam

We have seen a trend here at Eureeca and on most crowdfunding sites: businesses either hit their target it in the first 10 days of their campaign, or they flat line after week two and then get fully funded in the last few days. What’s important is that you don’t lose steam when promoting your campaign. After day 15-20, think about ways that you can re-energise your army and digital efforts. Try reaching out to industry bloggers to carry your story or send out an email campaign reminding people about your fundraise. Whatever you do, don’t get disheartened! We’re here to help you each step of the way to make sure you’re making the most out of your campaign.

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