By Ryan Allan

Please check out our OWL Adventure Lab crowdfunding page. You can contribute directly, buy a perk or find answers to questions about the Adventure Lab.

Check out OWL Adventure Lab Crowdfunding Journal #1 here.
Check out OWL Adventure Lab Crowdfunding Journal #2 here.
Check out OWL Adventure Lab Crowdfunding Journal #3 here.
Check out OWL Adventure Lab Crowdfunding Journal #4 here.

Can you run a crowdfunding campaign without social media? Can you start a company, build a brand or create a movement without it?

The Big Three: Instagram, Facebook, Twitter are ubiquitous. Snapchat is nipping at their heels. Tumblr, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Yelp, Flickr, Foursquare, Youtube, Vimeo, hell, even MySpace is back. It never ends. I started Facebook-ing about 8 months ago for the purposes of promoting events. After being booted once for using a personal account as a business (I didn’t realize it mattered) I settled in a routine of checking it twice a-day on my laptop. I’d hit Twitter up sporadically & voraciously, and since it was linked to my Instagram I’d post photos there. Instagram was my go-to social media. As a photographer it was the perfect medium for me to get something creative out there that I actually enjoyed doing.

Then we started crowdfunding for the OWL Adventure Lab.

Example of a social media image made just to promote campaign.
Example of a social media image made just to promote campaign.

We tried to have a social media plan going into it. Some images we prepared ahead of time, @OWLAdventureLab accounts on the Big Three, and plans to post during peak hours. We ready articles about social media strategy. It seemed fairly simple. Do this, do that and blammo, social media success. Our focus being on larger scale media & getting out and talking to people directly, e-mailing, shaking hands & kissing babies. Plans & reality don’t always match up.

I was on social media at least 50% of my waking hours for the first 19 days of this campaign. It was constant. Posting on all three platforms, then liking, sharing, retweeting, heart-ing, poking or whatever from various other accounts in hopes of a post being more visual. Both Twitter & Facebook use a “Pay for Play” style algorithm that only shows your posts to a few people. If those people don’t interact with your post it dies on the vine. HOWEVER, if you pay them they will “Boost” your post showing it to more of your “friends.” Or you can just buy an outright ad that they will then show to your targeted demographic.

OWL Adventure Lab Facebook AdWe tried all three options. We boosted a post about one of our perks, a Nathan Ledyard Art Print. It supposedly was then seen by 700 more people, but it didn’t generate any additional contributions we could track. We stopped that tactic after one try. Besides an initially ineffective result (and a small, small marketing budget) it just made me (us) feel dirty. Paying to put a post in friends feed just feels weird. They are already our friend or a fan of our page. It felt like Facebook was just trying to win coming and going. We pay them to boost a post for which they collect data that they then sell. They win twice & we didn’t win at all.

Then we tried a couple blatant ads. People saw them, commented & even shared. We had one direct contribution due to the ad. So we didn’t lose money on it, and it helped spread the word. Plus, it didn’t feel shady. We bought an ad. It was labeled as “sponsored” & people responded anyway. But all-in the value just wasn’t there. We went back to more old-fashioned versions of spreading the word. We talked to people. Called, e-mailed, met in parking lots, smiled and gave our pitch trying not to be douch-y in the process. Sometimes it worked. Sometimes it didn’t, but so far we’ve had 93 contributors based on old-fashioned techniques & just 1 using social media (that we’ve been able to track).

Through it all we kept up as much social media as possible because that’s supposed to be the way we all communicate these days. I kept tagging, hearting, friending, following and posting, posting, posting. Creating content took several hours a day. Usually, I did it first thing in the morning before the dog was up & again mid afternoon when I needed a real life break, and again in bed after my wife fell asleep & I watched 30 Rock reruns. I’d build a post on Facebook, modify it for Instagram & Twitter, then post an update on the Indiegogo site & LinkedIn. Around day 20 my cell phone died. Literally, the screen went black and refused to turn back on. I think it was just sick and tired of me jabbing at it all the time.

Nathan Ledyard Art Print IndieGoGo Flier

We have one week to go on our crowdfunding campaign where we are building an Adventure Lab designed to get people out of their offices into the wild but still connected. Part of me feels some guilt that we’re bringing that connectedness into some sacred places, but part of me knows that once you’re out there you might not want to be so connected. You’ll just want to sign up for a hike on one of our retreats, or you’ll be wasting time on Facebook staring out at 5 foot swell coming in and it will be too much temptation for you to resist. You’ll grab a board and hit the beach. We’re trying to keep you connected so you don’t want to be connected so much.

When the crowdfunding campaign is over we’ll have to make some decisions. Do we keep up our social media presence? How much do we put into it? Is it really the only way to survive, to market, to keep everyone’s attention? Or do we go old school with signs and handshakes? I’m guessing somewhere in the middle. We follow our passions out into the wild. We ride bikes, hike, camp, get wet and wild. If great content comes out of it we’ll share the stoke.

OWL Adventure Lab Crowdfunding Page on Indiegogo*FYI: Even if we don’t reach our goal we get to use the monies contributed for the OWL Adventure LAB. We’re excited to bring this to life, and with your contributions so far we’re going to stay on schedule. Thank you for supporting our campaign. You can contribute now at www.owladventurelab.com.

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