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Are Crowdfunding Promotion Services a Scam? [And What to Do]

A whole industry of crowdfunding promotion has emerged but what are you really getting for your money?

Media attention to huge crowdfunding campaign success stories has convinced thousands to jump into online funding before they really understand what it takes to raise money from the crowd.

This contributes to the fact that two-thirds of campaigns fail to meet their goals and that 12% never raise anything.

Enter the crowdfunding promotion services and lofty promises to get your message to thousands of bloggers, journalists, influencers and ultimately crowdfunding supporters. These crowdfunding promotion sites charge from hundreds to thousands of dollars on the idea that you’ll raise many times more on your campaign.

You shop around and decide to try out a seemingly reasonably-priced crowdfunding promotion service that offers high hopes and the potential to take your crowdfunding campaign viral…and then it's nothing but crickets chirping in the background.

Why are some of these crowdfunding promotion strategies doomed to fail? What really works and what is just a fantasy in promoting your campaign to the crowd?

crowdfunding ebook and fundraising ideas

Don’t become another crowdfunding statistic. Get everything you need to raise money in the crowd with Step-by-Step Crowdfunding. An Amazon best seller in the crowdfunding and non-profits categories with almost 1,800 copies sold.

Click to get your copy of Step-by-Step Crowdfunding and learn how to promote your own campaign!

Crowdfunding Promotion Services: Press Releases

Press releases are probably the most popular crowdfunding promotion service offered online. Why? Because they're easy and can be done at little cost to the promotion service provider.

Crowdfunding service providers promise to blast your press release out to their list of thousands in media, blogging and other online groups. Being in the crowdfunding biz for years, you’d think they would make the connections that would make this possible.

The results? Take a look at what one campaign owner posted on the internet. I’ve deleted the name of the crowdfunding promotion service provider for legal reasons.

Crowdfunding Promotion Fail

Crowdfunding Promotion Fail

Nearly 6,000 referrals to a campaign came from the press release but not a single contribution.

The first problem is that your press release is likely going to the same mailing list used for every other crowdfunding campaign. What makes you think a journalist is going to open one particular email about a campaign among the hundreds they may receive every week? Most crowdfunding service providers do nothing to build relationships with people on their lists.

As great as your idea is, it isn’t going to be news unless you make the effort to reach out and explain why people should be interested.

crowdfunding promotion scamThe second problem with this type of crowdfunding promotion is that the list often has little to do with your topic or your campaign. Just because a journalist has covered crowdfunding before does not mean they want to interview every campaign that gets launched on Kickstarter.

An outreach list of 100 people, customized to target a relevant audience, is better than a list of thousands if they aren't going to have the slightest care about your campaign. I covered how to build your own targeted outreach list in a huge post about how to draw people to your crowdfunding blog.

What about a few of the other promises for crowdfunding press releases?

  • Crowdfunding service providers promise to submit your press release to search engines, implying that you could get thousands of visitors from Google and Yahoo. Any page on the internet is available to search engines and service providers really aren’t doing much except indexing your page from their website. There is almost no way that your release is going to get much traffic from search though unless someone searches for the title. Most releases are not long enough and do not include the right factors (backlinks, keyword strength, quality content) to get ranked on the first pages of Google. The only way to promote your crowdfunding campaign through Google search is to create a blog and post regularly for a few months before the campaign.
  • Press releases blasted out to bloggers and other websites carry no real value to the recipients. A blogger that constantly posts spammy press releases to their audience with no regard to quality is going to see their traffic plummet. Blog and website content needs to be engaging and offer something of value to the readers. This is why I ask campaign owners to write about their experience crowdfunding for my readers rather than a simple commercial about their campaign. Promote your crowdfunding campaign with what it means for someone else and they’ll sit up and listen!

facebook equity crowdfundingCrowdfunding Promotion Services: Social Media Campaigns

Social media is the Holy Grail of crowdfunding promotion. Where else but Facebook can you reach a potential audience in the billions for free?

Crowdfunding service providers promise to get you hundreds and thousands of followers or to get your message tweeted out to their massive list of crowdfunding enthusiasts.

The problem is, that’s not social! Social media is about engaging and interacting with people. Blasting a tweet out to thousands and expecting anyone to care is like walking through an auditorium of people for 30 seconds and expecting Mr. or Mrs. Right to follow you out the door. Most have no interest in your message and the rest are not given enough to find out about it.

Check out the Twitter feed of some of the crowdfunding service providers. They tweet up to hundreds of times a day. What makes you think your message is going to get noticed out of the hundreds tweeted by the company every day?

Worse still is the crowdfunding service providers’ claim of an engaged and interested audience in their social followers. Want to know how these companies built that huge following for their Twitter or Facebook pages? Do a Google search for “buy Twitter followers” or “buy Facebook likes.” I can get 18,000 Twitter “followers” for $15 and 10,000 FB likes for just a little more. It looks great if you are trying to sell services but does nothing for reaching an audience for real crowdfunding promotion.

Crowdfunding Promotion Services on Social Media

Crowdfunding Promotion Services on Social Media

All those fake Facebook likes may actually keep you from getting your message seen by people that really care. Facebook only sends out posts to a portion of the page’s follower list. If people from that first group like or share the content, then Facebook sends it out to more of the group. If your message is only received by uninterested followers that are going to do nothing with the post, then it may never reach those few interested followers.

Even the service providers that offer to target and engage social media groups with a message may not be offering much that will convert to funding for your campaign. Check out crowdfunding promotion pages on Facebook or LinkedIn and you’ll see post after post of, “Support my Campaign,” followed by a link.

These posts offer no reason for people to even click through the link. Social media is about being social, duh! You need to actively engage people with questions and give people a reason to be a part of your team.

Managing your own social media marketing can actually be fairly easy with tools like Hootsuite. The social media tool allows you to connect all your social accounts and then manage messaging from one page. You can schedule messages in advance and even respond to others from the site. It saves a lot of time and is a must for anyone promoting their own campaign. Hootsuite typically runs free trials so you can use the platform for free for a month.

Check out a previous post on Crowdfunding Campaign Marketing for how to get the most out of your social media strategy and which marketing strategies offer the most bang for your buck.

How to do Crowdfunding Promotion Right

Almost all crowdfunding promotion revolves around massive quantity of blasts but just doesn’t get you anywhere. If you could easily raise thousands by giving someone a few hundred to promote your campaign, wouldn't everyone be doing it? The fact is that crowdfunding takes work and real crowdfunding promotion is a process of building a relationship with the right people.

The fact is that nobody is going to promote your crowdfunding campaign like you could. The online fundraising promoters are going to do the bare minimum they promised just to get paid. Check out their rates, do you really think someone could spend days or weeks promoting a campaign on just a few hundred dollars.

Paid crowdfunding promotion works on quantity, not quality, and there is very little accountability in the industry.

But the good news is that you can promote your own crowdfunding campaign without quitting your day job. If you learn the process behind raising money in the crowd, the individual tasks become much less time-consuming.

crowdfunding ebook and fundraising ideasStep-by-Step Crowdfunding eBook

Over 150 pages of the process I have used to help crowdfunding campaigns and other great strategies I’ve seen while talking to campaigns. The book takes you through the process from pre-launch crowdfunding to post-campaign fulfillment. Each chapter is a different step in the process with 17 total steps including all the work that will go into outreach and community building.

If you’ve read through the blog, you know that my posts aren’t brief snapshots.

The book includes even more detail and organizes everything from start to finish. It’s a one-stop source for everything you need to raise money from the crowd.

Here’s what one reader had to say:

I highlighted about 25% of this book because there was so much good information to remember. I highly recommend this book. Carney, 2015

Using your Email List for Crowdfunding Promotion

Your email list is pure gold for promoting your crowdfunding campaign and some of the best marketing you’ll do is through regular newsletters and special email messages. I’ve used iContact.com and their pro program for email campaigns. iContact offers webinars and tutorials on how to use email marketing that are indispensable even if you don’t use the service.

You need to use your email list strategically. Get people onboard with your campaign months before the launch by asking their opinion or input on different parts of the campaign. Talk to them actively about your thoughts on the cause and why it’s so important.

Leading up to the campaign, send out a series of emails highlighting a specific person’s story that has been effected by the cause (or has been helped by the product). Make it personal and make a connection.

Fiverr.com is a favorite of mine for marketing and smaller promotion tasks. Fiverr is a freelancer marketplace where ‘gigs' are posted starting at $5 with upgrades for a little more. Not all of the promotion gigs are worth your money but it can be an extremely cheap way to try out different services. I would much rather spend $5 on something and find out it doesn't work than spend hundreds. Try out a few gigs to help design and promote your campaign to find which ones work best.

Crowdfunding promotion has gotten a bad name with the growing list of spammers and false promises but I really believe that you can do promotion correctly and it can help your reach your crowdfunding goal. If you decide to seek crowdfunding services from a third-party, be critical of the offer and the promise of huge traffic to your campaign. Ask questions about the relevance of distribution lists and how the provider will actually drive engagement and interaction with people on the list.

Plan your campaign out with time for pre-launch and you won’t need crowdfunding promotion services. You can get your message out for free with these 19 ways to promote your crowdfunding campaign. I highlighted in a recent post. Don’t forget to check out some of the crowdfunding resources on our ebook & services page to put your crowdfunding promotion campaign on auto-pilot.

 

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About Joseph Hogue

An investment analyst by profession, I run two blogs (Crowd101 and PeerFinance101) in personal finance, peer lending and crowdfunding. I've been on both sides of the table as a lender and a borrower and am excited to be a part of the peer movement. With the power of the internet, people are helping other people manage debt and raise money in ways never before possible.

Comments

  1. Ayudos Crowdfunding says:

    Great Article Joseph,

    A lot of these flyby night services are popping up and giving a bad name to a lot of legit established crowdfunding blogs and promotional services like ours.

    I would love to share this article with my readers and followers . I would also like to know if you are interested in guest blogging on our site as well? Ill email you or reach you on social media .

    Hope to hear from you!
    Mike from Ayudos.com

    • Hi Mike,
      Thanks for the comment. I’m always looking to help crowdfunders through guest blogging on other sites. Send me an email and we’ll get something set up. Thanks again and thanks for the share.

  2. Hi Joseph,

    Thank you for saving money some of my hard earned money, I almost brought one the services like press release and social media. It’s so sad… there are companies that are taking advantages of naive or desperate individuals out there. Anyways, I just launch my project two days ago and a total newbie. Since my project is related to traveling, what do you think if send personal email to travel editors of various news outlet to asking if they are can do a story on our project.

    I really appreciate your feedback!

    • Charles,
      Sending out emails to travel editors is a good start but why stop there? Check out who is tweeting and sharing about travel on social media and reach out to them. Reach out to travel bloggers as well. Follow up the email with a few phone calls to make a more personal connection.

      Thanks for the comment and good luck on your campaign.

  3. Great article, thanks!

    I honestly was about to drop $500+ on promoting my education crowd fund. Im an Australian, trying to get $50,000 to get to Grad School in the USA, any suggestions who I should reach out to?

    • Thanks Steven. Good luck with the campaign and let me know if you have any questions. The most important point would be to build you campaign through some pre-launch activities. There’s a lot on the blog about it but if you want the whole process laid out, the book is a great deal so you might want to check ou the Crowdfunding ebook page on the site.

  4. Well thanks Joseph, I was exactly looking for a article like this. After launching my campaign, few hours later I started receiving tweets and emails from people wanting to help boost the campaign. I got very suspicious real quick since; really, wow thanks you stranger, but how do you want to boost a campaign of a project you know nothing about. The irony of this all is that they do not realise that they are actually spamming to a social network developer. My project is exactly that, to launch a new social network that is not profile-oriented but rather use a forum-style concept of communities where the profile isn’t the focal point. Facebook, Google+, LinkedIn, Diaspora, Minds, Twitter are all profile oriented social networks.

    My impression of these crowdfunding promoters was similar to sitting on a outdoor terrace of a McDonald joint and inadvertently drop fries on the ground, next thing you hear is a flock of pigeons and seagulls fighting for it. Pigeons and seagulls doesn’t care where the food come from; taste like or look like, it’s just food to them. And my comparison came to be exact because I did reply to one of those promoters -“Hey if you really believe you can help my campaign, why don’t you take the $10 dollars you ask of me and invest it in my campaign.” That was it! No word from him afterwards.

    If they would really read about the campaign they claim that they can boost, they would have know to use perhaps a different tactic to approach me, since I’m a social network platform developer but beside that I also clearly states in my profile and other videos I made for the campaign that I have a business degree, sociology degree and a behavioural psychology major… If I would put myself in the shoes of crowdfunding promoter, I’d clearly change my speech when talking to someone like me.

    That just goes to prove that my suspicions were funded, and your article just confirmed what I tought when I saw all those vultures spamming my twitter and emails.

  5. You opened my eyes man. I was blind on this, I tried to rise money couple times, and every single time it was death end. I have 3D printing machine and, wanted to make some stock of car parts which I make with it, because they are seasonable goods and I miss sales because not have enough finished parts. Investing in other machine and other man is not option.

  6. Joseph, thanks for sharing your wisdom. I appreciated reading the truth behind the promises I’ve been reading from crowdfunding promoters and managers.

    Our online art school is aiming for a crowdfunding campaign. Can you provide a link to your book? Couldn’t find one on this page (It’s late…maybe I’m tired… 🙂
    Thanks,
    Tim

  7. Janelle Jalbert says:

    It seems that the same mindsets/opportunitists that prey on those who dream of publishing success have established a similar foothold in the crowdfunding arena. They share the same M.O. unfortunately. As with publishing, I love those who stand up and cut through the bull instead of spreading fairy dust and promising unicorns. Thanks!

  8. Excellent article Joseph and with your services disclosed I see no self serving or conflict of interest here so I give you extra points for remaining objective in your reporting. I followed your link over from the horridly biased article on the WSJ which was so poorly written and biased against all crowdfunding consultants I’d consider it to be libelous.

    • Thanks for the note Stephen. Crowdfunding and crowdfunding promotion is in a pretty dangerous period. It’s new so people are still forming opinions of crowdfunding as a way to raise money. Too many shady crowdfunding consultants will give everyone a bad name and destroy the whole industry.

  9. Hi Joseph.
    Thank you for a great atricle. I should have read it earlier.
    What I find difficult is that my product solves a problem efficiently, but it is not “cool”, “hip” or “sexy”. It seems that it is easier fund a great presentation, than a great product. With this in mind, I think it is even worse to hire someone to spam my campaign all over internet.

    • Totally correct. If your product isn’t the latest hot thing then crowdfunding spam is going to be even less effective. Always best to go with your own grassroots crowdfunding and fundraising outreach, starting from your inner circle and working out.

  10. Hi,
    Thanks for this article. There is so much accurate information here. Crowdfunding promotion takes time to build up interest and awareness and must be factored into the campaign before it launches. We had our media fall apart on the day of our launch and hired medialabnyc. Worst decision ever. They wrote a generic press release, we never saw where it was picked up and got no or little traffic from them. Money thrown away. Backercity gave us 27 people in a little over 24hrs and Gadget Flow with their huge array of products got us very little traffic. If you paid for their largest package you probably will get picked up for a short while. Do your homework and start months before by building up your following on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram and get ready to engage many online blogs, magazines and companies to get your product seen otherwise it will be dead in the water.

  11. Christo Lake says:

    Nice article. The success and failure of a crowdfunding campaign do not depend upon the product idea. No matter how good or bad your business ideas are, but behind every successful campaign there is a great crowdfunding marketing plan and a great effort by the founders. Here are a few tips that you need to know before launching a crowdfunding campaign.

  12. Thank you for the article. We hired a crowdfunding company and I really don’t know how they were able to send us pics of posts that they apparently got our campaign on and all were false. Now we are starting to work inside out and just sending personal messages to people and engaging them instead of just asking for support. It’s a slow process but it seems to be working.

  13. I’ve hired the socialinfluencergroup for my Kickstarter campaign.Went for the level 2 promotion at $155.
    After 7 days, and not a single pledge, I wanted to finally get more information on what was going on. I did get some worthless post data, all groups which have zero activity and the once that do clearly fake. I’ve checked the likes on the post, all fake!!! Their website says: “The Social Influencer Group is comprised of the webs most talented and influential content creators, website owners, bloggers, authors, technology developers, and social media stars.” The truth is that the only thing SIG offers is a bunch of crapy fiverr gigs sending robot likes to their social media groups.
    You can buy exactly the same ‘service’ for $5!! On their website they clearly state that: “Customer happiness is our top priority.” What customer happiness? Ripping of someone, who’s putting all his efforts in his Kickstarter campaign by bluntly lying and offering some cheap Fiverr gig with fake mass blast robot traffic?
    Horrible Scam!Stay away from SIG or the Social Infuencer Group scam.
    Review about: Social Influencer Group Crowdfunding Service.
    Reason of review: Bad quality.
    Monetary Loss: $155.
    Preferred solution: Someone need to stop this.
    I didn’t like: Socialinfluencergroup ripped me off, Fiverr fake social media marketing, Zero results for my kickstarter.

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