Crowdfunding is a fairly well known term these days. Using sites like Kickstarter to ask for donations towards a creative project is a fairly standard way to get some start up cash. But what happens when you've finished the project? How do you get the word out?
Well, the good news is that a new site called Thunderclap is offering to help artists, non-profits and creators spread their message- for free. It's basically the Twitter version of Kickstarter, and it's a way for people to harness the power of the internet and get all of their friends, family, funders, supporters and well wishers to join forces and virtually 'shout' about a cause or project in an attempt to increase its social reach.
If enough people share the same information at once, there's a good chance that the update about that project could become a trending topic on Twitter or Facebook. It could even go viral.
To access these features, users have to recruit a minimum of 500 supporters to their cause within seven days. These supporters sign up and agree to share a key message on Twitter, Facebook or Tumblr. Then, providing the originator has reached that target, the preset information about the project is then automatically shared with participant's followers at a specific time.
One of the artists and creators who have recently signed up to use Thunderclap is Alan Entwistle, director of the films 24Weekers (about his premature son Jack) and Frayetta, a soon-to-be-released short about a young woman seeking escape from a violent relationship. Alan explains that he decided to use Thunderclap in order to drum up excitement and interest in his project, as well as to raise awareness of the issues it contains:
"I opted to use Thunderclap because it's a new and exciting way to reach new supporters and spread ideas. It also seemed to be the next logical step when it came to raising awareness of my film. My project is quite a personal one: I decided to make Frayetta because I'd heard that an old school friend had killed her abusive husband, which in turn made me wonder what would lead someone to commit such an act. After writing and directing 24Weekers, it seemed natural to explore these issues by making a film. However, it doesn't matter how personal a film project is- or how much work you put into it- if no one sees it. Thunderclap is great way to ask all of my existing supporters to come together in order to reach a new and untapped audience, and in doing so spread the ideas and issues raised by my short film as far and wide as possible."
Alan isn't the only one. So far, Thunderclap messages have reached over 1.5 billion people in 256 countries and the movement is gathering momentum daily. According to Thunderclap's founder Hashem Bajwa: "successful Thunderclaps require passionate people that believe in an idea and message they want heard. We amplify their passion and help their message resonate farther. Whatever your motivation, Thunderclap can push your message out to the masses and amplify any message."
It certainly seems like a great way to get your message noticed. Single tweets and status updates can all-too-easily disappear into the ether, ignored by busy site users. Thunderclap effectively holds a loudspeaker to your tweet, making it much harder to ignore and increasing the chance of it being noticed and shared. However, despite their noble aims, Thunderclap initially fell foul of Twitter. The social media behemoth weren't impressed by Thunderclap's efforts to harness their site without asking permission.
Thunderclap initially lost access to Twitter just minutes after sending its second message: a call to Congress to publish government data in bulk that was tweeted by 128 people simultaneously. Twitter decided that the app was a little too close to spam for comfort and could be used to flood the site with commercial messages. However, the app was allowed back in from the cold six weeks later after promising to maintain a 'high quality bar for the types of Thunderclaps we allow onto the site.'
This effectively means that if a project is featured on Thunderclap you can rest assured that it's a cause that's worth supporting. But what do you think? Is it a good idea? Will you use Thunderclap to help causes you care about reach a wider audience? Let us know in the comments.
If you want to help Alan share his Thunderclap and raise awareness of the issues surrounding domestic violence, you can join in here.