Here’s a hypothetical situation.
You’ve prepped your website. It’s getting people to sign up for your growing mailing list. All your social media accounts are set up and are getting likes, retweets, and followers. Your crowdfunding campaign is completely prepped with tons of sharable blog posts, pictures, and a strong, consistent voice.
On day one, you reached 100% in under 8 hours. That’s amazing. Congratulations.
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To keep momentum, you’re releasing updates, tweets, and celebrating. But then you get your first comment on Indiegogo or Kickstarter. Then the fifth comment on Facebook. @mentions on Twitter keep pouring in. People have questions. Even though you have a FAQ on both your website and crowdfunding campaign, people have questions about specific features, functions, or design.
What do you do? All at once, your entire team starts answering questions to the best of their ability. But the problem is that the answers aren’t consistent. The CEO is handling Facebook, the Chief Marketing Officer is responding on Twitter, and the Social Media Manager is replying on the campaign page. Eventually the answers get more complicated and people are seeing different answers for the same question on different platforms.
Now what can you do?
The solution is simple: stop answering questions. Stop attempting to triage each individual question because you’ll never catch up. The actual answer in this situation is go over every question asked, make a list, and keep track of the most commonly asked questions. Then write an update on your blog, and record and edit a quick video answering the top three.
What’s more efficient? Answering every question individually or creating a dedicated location where you can answer the most frequently asked ones and also update it over time? An updated FAQ might even have answers to questions that backer didn’t think about.
This is what I’ve seen with the campaigns we’ve worked with. Usually with the day-one live stream, you can get a lot of questions out of the way for backers. But as the campaign continues, those answers are hidden within video or buried under comments. It’s much simpler to have a direct location for backers to get answers.
Obviously, you’ll still get comments on the campaign page and social media, but it’s easier to direct them to this destination.
Timing is always an issue. With worldwide crowdfunding, people ask questions 24 hours a day. A lot of times you’ll wake up to hundreds of questions and you’ll probably see comments complaining that you didn’t answer quickly enough. However, the goal is to answer everyone’s question efficiently.
But you should never go silent. You must respond.
If you don’t respond, you’re creating a negative company image. This is especially true for backers. If a backer has a question and you don’t answer, then it looks like you took their money and don’t care anymore. An updated FAQ might even have answers to questions that backer didn’t think about, so respond to comments by pointing them to the answer.
The campaign’s content schedule should provide timely updates to backers to let them know of the current progress. For backers, it doesn’t matter if there’s not a huge substantial step forward. But knowing that the company is hard at work creates a consumer-to-business trust that is hard to develop, but simple to lose.
Don’t Ignore Anyone
Obviously answering every single question is time consuming and some companies have very small teams. But there should be a stock response for questions that can only be answered by one person. From the comments I’ve viewed, people are willing to give about 24 hours for an answer. If you wait beyond that, people are going to become negative about your product.
If you answer questions, people are more willing to forgive and become supportive. A lot of the required work is to explain and gain trust from potential backers. It’s up to you to assure them that even though the product they put their money behind isn’t shipping for months, that you’re going to be working to make and deliver the product you promised.
These People Believe in You
There have been huge successes and gigantic failures in crowdfunding. One thing that determined either the success or failure of each campaign was communication with backers. Going silent will only bring distrust. Having open conversations and keeping your supporters updated will keep them satisfied as you work towards your final product.
Your backers are in this with you and their pledge serves as a marker of their belief in you.
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Photo via Flickr