With the arrival of crowdsourcing services such as Indiegogo and Kickstarter, many of the boundaries you saw between your product and its fans- have instead become an opportunity to grow your products fanbase, reputation and brand while raising capital simultaneously.
Validating your product via Kickstarter has an interesting side effect that adds significant value in the early stages of growing your brands reputation. Being able to develop and refine your target market while getting a chance to ask them "would you buy this?" This practice is called validation (or validating your product), and gives you a boost in organic and reputable social media as well as gathering real-time, relevant and meaningful feedback.
Crowdsourcing sites like Kickstarter and Indiegogo are primarily meant to give small businesses and entrepreneurs an opportunity to raise the initial capital needed to get their product, service, or idea to market with just a prototype. Users and fans are able to choose from multiple levels of donation- creating a sense of personal investment and ownership of your brand.
It's always an added benefit when you can help a customer feel good when they make a purchase or investment.
Astroturfing is the creation of a simulated Grassroots Campaign that seeks to create the impression of legitimate buzz or interest in a product, service or idea.
This differs from normal paid article writing in that the author will typically not be posting under their own name and will typically use a pseudonym- or even multiple real and fake accounts.
An example of Astroturfing
Reddit is truly 'the front page of the Internet', and is built upon the simple concept of allowing users to share links and posts, and allowing other users to vote those links and posts up OR down. Some discussions will get heated, but for the most part- Reddit is an incredibly democratic community and is allows for open debate and conversation.
At last count there were 245,443 active subcategories or 'SubReddits' including everything from World News and US Politics to Conspiracy Theories and Social Debates about everything from Capitalism vs. Socialism to the proper method for replacing toilet paper on the roll.
There is even an entire SubReddit devoted to pictures of a man named Ian sleeping, taken by Ian's roomate beginning in October of 2011. The SubReddit is quite literally titled "PicturesofIanSleeping" and at one point had nearly 9000 active subscribers.
Today Reddit is a dominant force on the Internet, but was once a startup with zero users just like everyone else. Alexis Ohanian and the other founders were clever enough to understand the importance of 'pre-populating' the worlds largest community and immediately began work creating hundreds of fake accounts and creating conversations to make Reddit appear to have a vibrant, active and engaged user base- building massive Social Proof to the first wave of visitors to the site.
Soon afterward, Reddit took over the Internet- smashing traffic records produced previously by Slashdot, Digg, The Chive and many others on the way to becoming the front page of the Internet. If not for that initial Astroturfing campaign- some say Reddit would never have become what it is today.
Check out our newest project, designed to spread the message of Electric Cab of Austin and introduce our concept of an 'all-electric taxi service in austin'. This was one of our favorite projects so far.
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