8 Reasons to Reconsider a Thunderclap — An Average Startup’s Review

Twelve (12) days ago, Angelbacker decided to run its first Thunderclap. The idea of a Thunderclap made sense:

Run a campaign to gather supporters who will share the same message on Facebook/Twitter at a future date and time.

We didn’t exactly know how Facebook would show posts by friends of friends on our newsfeed, but the idea of multiple people sharing the same thing at the same time made a lot of sense for its dissemination. We decided to give it a try since we’re in the mode of building more pre-launch buzz.

Below are 7 lessons learned based on our experience with the Angelbacker Thunderclap campaign:

1) Goals are goals. They work.

Setting goals forces one to achieve them, especially those governed by a third-party service like Thunderclap. Either your campaign achieves 100 supporters throughout the duration of the campaign or it doesn’t. Not achieving your goal meant everything you had done previously was in vain, and that in itself forces one to finish and follow through.

2) A Third of Your Potential Supporters will not Help

Talk is cheap. A proportion of people who said they will help didn’t end up doing so for our campaign. The reasons may be multi-fold, but the sad truth is because either you (more about this below) or they just didn’t care enough. If someone isn’t going to help with a simple campaign like such, it’s likely they won’t help with much in the future. Be warned.

3) Get Support Immediately

Real-time chat was the best performing method to gain supporters. This meant stalking Messenger, GTalk, Facebook friends, etc. and getting them to show support right there and then through instant message. Asking people in person would likely perform even better, but sending emails and leaving messages don’t work half as well as it might seem. Most people put off such things regardless of how trivial.

4) Don’t Wait Until the Last Minute

Don’t create a campaign and wait until the last minute. Thunderclap campaigns (and really all other crowdfunding campaigns) are more like marathons rather than sprints. Stick to an achievable goal like acquiring 10 supporters a day rather than 100 on the last day. Gathering support is much harder than it seems, particularly for us normal people.

5) Explaining the Thunderclap is More Annoying than the Support Itself

More than 90% of our supporters have not heard previously heard of a Thunderclap. That meant having to explain how a Thunderclap works instead of pitching Angelbacker. This confused our supporters to the extent where it was not surprising to hear questions such as whether Thunderclap was our startup. It was obtrusive and our message was ultimately more complicated.

6) No access to our supporters email? Really?

$500 to download the contact information of our supporters! Our supporters! That’s unreasonable. We would understand if some of them were not from our own community and network, but we worked to gain every single supporter, and to charge us for the contact info they used to sign up to our campaign is just too much.

7) No Pre-recorded Facebook Messages

The majority of our Thunderclap were Facebook messages. And since Facebook does not allow for pre-recorded messages, the majority of our Thunderclap was sharing our own link and nothing else (compared to sharing on Twitter which includes our preset message). I’m fairly sure this affected our conversion. People are much more likely to check out a link on Facebook if the person who shared it includes a personal message.

8) Be Personal

Don’t send pre-canned messages to gain support; this includes mail merges as well. Everybody wants to feel important and cared for, and nobody wants to receive a template message. So even if you are going to spam your contact list — make it personal, make it authentic, and make it seem like you care. You are asking for a favor after all. If you didn’t care enough about getting their support, neither will you get any favors in return.

8) Time it Right

Spend the effort to determine the best time for your Thunderclap. It matters less for Facebook shares since notable posts will still show up at the top of your newsfeed within the next few days. But all Twitter tweets will be fired at one time and will be washed out fairly quickly. You want to make sure all your tweets are shared at the best time when they are most actionable and visible. This will differ based on your audience and your message, but the difference between a Thunderclap blasted at the right time and one that is not is quite significant. We chose our Thunderclap to happen on Sunday morning, which worked well on Facebook because everyone ended up seeing it on a day where people are most actionable, but it could have been a little too early for Twitter when some people were still in bed.

In Summary

All in all, our verdict is that the disadvantages of a Thunderclap outweighs the advantages. My co-founder and I were up to our own devises to gain supporters for our campaign, had to explain the Thunderclap platform on top of our own startup Angelbacker, and do not have access to the contact info of the 100+ supporters of our campaign. A third-party to help track and keep our goals tangible is useful, but not useful enough. Sorry Thunderclap.

On another note, someone needs to fork the Lockitron Self-starter Project on Github and open source the Thunderclap platform. It would make for a great weekend/hackathon project, and we’d pitch in to help


Originally published at blog.rocketclub.co on February 25, 2015.