Ten years ago I attended a meeting organized by Dennis Todora as he attempted to bring together a “dream team” to start a software company.  He and I became partners with a handful of others and had a good little run, starting with microscopic investments and building on “sweat equity” and revenue (a story for an entrepreneurial blog post, not one on communications).  Recently, Dennis approached me about investing a few hours in a “new” deal, qwik-keyz, with a completely different finance approach – Kickstarter.com.  If you aren’t familiar, this site creates a venue for people like artists and entrepreneurs to generate some funding via social networking to get a project done or business kick-started.  It’s worth a visit, just to see all the diverse projects.

The interesting difference from a communication standpoint (compared to his last venture with me acting as the communication/marketing guy): to get this deal cooking, we need to leverage social media.  Fortunately, this team includes T.J. McLeod, who plays social media director for CRAVE in real life.  T.J. believes that a big part of making a site like Kickstarter work is to get participating “project” leaders to build the initial momentum from their own personal networks. These efforts are coupled with a pre-planned online strategy.

According to Hubspot, research shows that Twitter and Facebook users are several times more likely to re-tweet and share – if you ask them to. T.J. strongly recommends asking upfront for the action – re-tweet, like, share, favorite, etc.  “The ask is an important part of the process,” says T.J.  He also feels that a lot of credibility for any corporate social media engagement, but especially in a Kickstarter situation, comes from transparency and a ‘likelihood to share’.  “People really value transparency, but ultimately content has but one goal – likelihood to share. Is your content something that others are inclined to share with their networks? Seventy-eight percent of people are likely to click on a recommendation from a friend, as opposed to only 14% from a paid advertisement. That’s powerful information.”

Another suggestion from T.J. relates to leveraging second tier networks within your own social connections.  “If you have a group in your network all connected to you in the same way, like high school friends or former colleagues from a company, Facebook allows you to create sub-lists so you can tailor messages for these groups based on the nature of your connection affinities – so you can make the right ‘ask’ for sharing your story.”  T.J. gets pretty enthusiastic about his work, and especially about infusing contests and giveaways – constantly – while you are running a campaign for any event.  He runs contests and drawings for gift certificates or small items “quite frequently, because it’s easy and fun.  People love winning gifts and prizes, or even just having bragging rights, i.e. naming a new menu item.”

On the question of advertising on Facebook, T.J. points out, “People on Facebook typically don’t like to leave Facebook. I  recommend having a good strategy in place as to where your ad takes the visitor. It’s a safe bet to link to the firm’s Facebook page. If you decide to link to an external website, be sure to have a solid landing page in place to keep the marketing funnel as quick and painless as possible.”

While I have conversations all the time with people engaged in social media marketing, it has been a great experience being able to watch the process from scratch.  It will be interesting to see the process continue to evolve.  I’ll let you know about all the cool stuff.