Here’s Kickstarter entrepreneur Sarah Giblin sharing her top 8 practical tips on making best use of social media. Her way with words has really impressed me on her journey from the germ of her idea to the successful global launch of her innovative backwards commuter backpack, the RiutBag.
Find all the details of Sarah’s award-winning invention here:
1. Find the discussion
A rucksack is a non-controversial product, so you’ll find there are people online already talking about it. It might be people saying how much they love their current rucksacks, the problems they have or simply the fact that they are washing theirs today! It’s easier to talk to people who have decided to air their views on your topic and engage them in conversation than to hope that someone else is interested.
Personally, I found a lot of people talking about rucksacks on Twitter and Google+. When I was looking for survey participants, I had a feeling these opinionated rucksack folk would take part and help out. They did! Over 1000 people took my surveys about commuting and rucksacks last year. I used Surveymonkey to gather data free.
2. Ask for help
My goal was to raise 30,000 GBP in 30 days on Kickstarter. But note: it’s impossible for one person to create a successful Kickstarter campaign. The crowd makes it happen: the people you know and those beyond.
As an individual in a world of noise online, it’s difficult to get your voice heard. So be honest: I let Facebook, Linkedin, Google+ and Twitter know that the next 30 days might involve a lot of me banging on about the RiutBag. I apologised in advance for the interruption to their newsfeeds and asked that they join the discussion. Don’t just tell people you are doing something: ask them to get involved.
3. Do what you say you will
Skip forward six months: I had run a successful Kickstarter campaign and gained over 1000 amazing Kickstarter backers. They were putting their trust in and risking their money on me – a first time Kickstarter project creator. As a backer, whilst you’re excited about the end product, there’s still a niggling doubt that this person could just run off with the money! So it’s seriously important to really show your backers what you’re up to, step by step.
I told my backers I would write every two weeks on a Wednesday and I have done this since the end of November 2014. It’s a perfect amout of time because a lot happens in two weeks and it lets your backers get on with the rest of their lives without annoying them. It’s also great for me, because I’ve documented my own project more than I otherwise would have.
4. Keep it genuine
When I encounter problems, good news or I’m at a milestone in my project, I make video, take a photo, and post it. It doesn’t matter if I’ve just stepped off a 14 hour flight, it’s the middle of the night or first thing in the morning. You could review it all for weeks and make sure it’s exactly right, but that’s not exciting or relevant for your audience. They want to know what you’re doing now and how it’s furthering the cause they supported.
Getting on my first flight to see the factory in China, seeing the production line workers, material being cut en masse, finding problems which are now fixed: they all got their own video. It was genuine. My responses were real, they were genuine. It brought the project to life for my backers.
5. Empower people
I show every step of what I’m doing so that everyone out there knows it’s not magic; I have no superpowers. Anyone can do this. We can all come up with a new idea, survey people, fund it on Kickstarter, go to China, work with experts + make it happen. Thousands of companies have done this before. When I write, if I’m doing something good, I hope to show that you can do this. We can all do this!
6. Use many channels
Everyone has their favourite social media spot. As a business, you have to try and speak to people where they wish to be spoken to. At the moment, I use Facebook, Twitter, Google+, LinkedIn, blogging, email and Kickstarter to communicate. My website www.riut.co.uk, built in a few weeks using www.squarespace.com, is now live. I’ve moved my blog over there. I need to try Instagram next!
7. Dive in and learn as you go
Try what you think will work. If you’re wrong, you now know, and you can move on to your next idea. Some of my ideas have flopped miserably! Whereas some blogs have been shared thousands of times. The most important thing: start. Get going. You can fix things along the way from there. It’s OK to be rubbish at the beginning.
8. Be open about problems
Kickstarter helps you to start a very open company. From the word go I’ve been handling criticism, challenges and kinder remarks in the public comments on my Kickstarter and Facebook pages. Whilst it’s difficult at first, it helps everyone if you can be comfortable with the challenges you face. They do exist! There are real risks. But that’s why it’s even more amazing when it all ends happily.
I’ve learnt all of this, had problems with manufacture and shipping, and shared it with my backers along the way. They aren’t always thrilled when I tell them there might be a delay in delivery – and rightly so – but they know they can voice their concerns and I will always reply. It’s been a fantastic way to start a business. I intend to keep this style of open and genuine communication.