Building your crowd: social media tips for crowdfunders & creative practitioners from Guy Kawasaki

Need to build a crowd around your project? Here’s some vital information for any creative practitioner, anyone planning a crowdfunding campaign or anyone who wants to build their social media presence.

Building your crowd

Social media tips for crowdfunders & creative practitioners from Guy Kawasaki

While gathering teaching resources for my up-coming Crowdfunding Project sessions with the MA Entrepreneurship for Creative Practice group at Plymouth College of Art. I have been watching Guy Kawasaki’s presentation How to Use Social Media as an Evangelist for Your Business and Here’s How I Did It! for the MIT Enterprise Forum in April 2013.

Guy Kawasaki is a Silicon-Valley author, speaker and technology evangelist – someone who builds a critical mass of support for a given technology through showcases, demos, talks, articles, blogging, creating sample projects, with the intention of ‘converting’ the audience to his way of thinking. It’s an interesting position – an expert in semi-covert persuasion, using his enthuasism and social tendencies to ‘sell’ in a way that people don’t feel like they are being sold to.

Kawasaki’s TOP TIPS…

Here’s my rundown of the most useful of Kawasaki’s tips from the lecture. These are all things that it is important for any creative practitioner, anyone planning a crowdfunding campaign or anyone who wants to build their social media presence to know.

#1 – It takes 9-12 months to build a crowd

Kawasaki advises that when it comes to building your crowd or social media presence “you cannot start this too soon”. When you start to work on the idea for the project, you should start to build the crowd around that idea/project at the same time. You want to position yourself as an interesting person with expertise in your field before introducing your own project or asking for backing – let people get to know you, what you are interested in and why they should be interested in what you have to say – build the platform in advance of when you need it.

#2 – Know your platform – understand what people use different social platforms for

Facebook – PEOPLE – for connecting with people you already know, people you want to stay in touch with, people who you have pre-existing relationships with (friends, family, work colleagues, school friends, exes etc).

Twitter – PERCEPTIONS – for short bursts of news, daily observations, joining existing conversations & starting new ones.

Google+ – PASSIONS – for forming new relationships and connections around common interests. Google+ communities share passions, and make these groups easier to find than on Facebook.

Pinterest – PINNING, PRIMPING & PICTURES – people use this for wish-list, visual planning, collecting images and inspiration. Not much social interaction here, but each piece of content has a ‘currency’.

LinkedIn – PIMPING – for pimping yourself out, selling yourself, demonstrating a track record or expertise and finding a new job. People use this to chart their professional connections and to view the professional connections of others they know.

When asked which P is Instagram, Kawasaki doesn’t have a clear answer, but I would suggest that it might be something like…

Instagram – PERFORMANCE & PRODUCT – people tend to use Instagram to show images of activities, experiences and objects that they are engaging with.


#3 – Make a great profile – Set up your profile so that it survives the ‘hot or not’ challenge

Your profile should be beautiful. This doesn’t refer to your physical beauty or attractiveness, this is more to do with how people will rate a potential connection with you (ie follow you back on Twitter, RT your posts, make a decision about whether they will be interested in what you say etc). You need to use this space to develop an instantaneous rapport with a stranger who is making a quick judgement on the following qualities – whether you are competent, likeable, trustworthy

You can optimise your profile by:

  • using a high quality image of your face (just you, not you and your dog, or you and your child etc)
  • your face should be slightly off-centre in the picture, and not staring directly at the camera (using rule of thirds, where your eyes should sit on the lines that intersect when you divide the image)
  • use a background image that communicates your areas of interest / passions / reveals a little more about you (this could be a montage image – with up to 5 different areas of focus)
  • craft your profile tagline – use straightforward explanations, including your professional interests, location etc. People will read this and make their mind up on whether to pay attention to you / follow you / engage in conversation with you within roughly 10 seconds. Make these words work in your favour!

#4 – Work out how you deal with content and the social media space

Kawasaki reminds us that using social media professionally is not about “making friends”, it is about “earning followers” (who are drawn to the content you share). You want to share things that are high quality, so that other want to share what you are posting – this will mean you becoming more well known / earning more followers. He suggests you should “be like NPR” – who provide great radio content throughout the year, and once a year ask for money from them listeners to fund the station – earning the right to ask for something in return when the time is right (not sure who NPR are?? – take a look here). Here are his recommendations on how best to earn followers and build your crowd:

Curate: find and share great content with your audience / join trending conversations / build up a rapport with your audience through sharing interesting, on-topic content. You are establishing yourself as “someone who really understands the sector that they are in”. Curate content that will be interesting and useful to your audience (or your desired audience) – this is a shortcut to creating a following of people who are interested in your specialist areas / ares of interest.

Hold back on self-promotion: only 1 in 20 messages should be promoting something you’re selling / offering. Seek to add value to your audience 19 times before you promote yourself. Choose related topics that excite your audience and feed their interest in the area of what you do – again, you are “earning” the right to promote yourself by first sharing useful / interesting things.

ALWAYS use images or video: this will be useful in directing people’s attention to your post, making it more scannable and communicating the topic more quickly. This “bling” helps attract people towards what you are posting in a crowded online space.

Respond: remember that social media is not a one-way conversation – you need to genuinely engage with other people. You wouldn’t walk into a room, shout your message and then leave – so, why do this in a social media space? When people respond to your post, you need to respond in return

Stay positive or stay silent: in your posts, responses and comments Kawasaki recommends that you shouldn’t let yourself be led into arguments with trolls. When you make negative statements, they appear out of context, and lead to judgements on your character by lurkers (and those not directly involved in the conversation) – be careful that you don’t make statements that could lead to your being read as “a profane and mean-spirited person” (who they don’t want to follow / be associated with.

Repeat yourself: Kawasaki advises that you should repeat each of your twitter posts 4 times, roughly 8 hours apart. Think of this like a rolling 24 hour news channel, where you need to make sure people catch it when they are tuning in (rather than just when you are ‘broadcasting’). Twitter will block identical tweets, so make sure you have changed the text / links slightly whenever

If you have the time, I’d recommend watching the presentation in full (starts properly at about 7 mins in, so skip to there), as Kawasaki gives detailed examples and demos of the situations he describes.


Tools recommended during the presentation:

I’d love to know what you think of these tips!! Which of these things are you going to start to use yourself? What tips is he missing? What has changed in the last 3.5 years since this talk happened?

New to crowdfunding?
Check out my quick start guide to crowdfunding!!

Quick start crowdfunding beginners guide

Rachel Dobbs is one half of LOW PROFILE, an artist and educator based in Plymouth, UK. Rachel works on a range of arts and education projects, has a long-term interest in creative approaches to community development and runs workshops, teaching & training sessions for a range of formal & informal groups including students, arts practitioners and communities – contact me for more details.


Blog Post: Guy Kawasaki: Building Your Crowd …

Thank you, Rachel! Key information clearly and succinctly extracted from Kawasaki’s MIT presentation for my ease of reference and understanding …

I look forward to discussing this further with you and the rest of the MA: ECP cohort at our session on Wednesday 23 November.

Until then …

Great Anita! Glad the information is useful and look forward to discussing it with you 🙂

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.