The comic book industry is hard, good times or bad times, the entire industry has crashed and burned so many times there should be a hazard warning out for anyone insane enough to get into this industry. The economic recession of 2008 through today has been very hard on comic book stores as customers stop spending money on comic books, and spend money on food. Comic Book Ink in Tacoma was in serious trouble by the time mid 2011 was rolling around, and in danger of closing. In their original announcement they were behind at least 30,000 dollars with their credit maxed out, their suppliers working on a cash upfront process, and they were in danger of not getting their weekly shipments in that would help keep customers coming in.
How they responded to this was very different than many companies though, they started appealing to the general public to help them out. Being frank and upfront about their situation, they posted a note spelling out exactly what was going on, and what would need to be done to help them survive. Then they went public, seriously public, twitter, Facebook, reddit, all picked up the thread which allowed people to donate any amount of money to help keep the store going.
Once the social media channels picked up the story, the local press started running with it because it is a unique social story, as well as a feel good story. If you help now, Comic Book Ink which serves Tacoma could keep operating and selling comic books. Not just sell comic books, but continue to be the Eisner Award winning comic book store that they are. Not just a comic book store, but a Tacoma treasure that is recognized across the USA as a special place to go, visit, and spend money at.
The appeal worked, and worked brilliantly as the Facebook likes, twitter retweets, and reddit fans started spreading the story around the internet. The more attention it got, the more it was liked, retweeted and reshared. The end of the story culminated with an Indiagogo project to raise the last five thousand dollars that they needed, and at the last minute they were able to get the full amount they needed to stay open. The way that the story was shared across the community also incorporated other blogs and their audiences to help drive the story home. That a special place was in financial trouble, and they really needed help.
Some of the key differentiators though were that they are an award winning comic book store and generally respected throughout the entire comic book industry. They were also very honest about their situation and exactly what they needed. The story was true; it rang true, and overall was easily verifiable as a real issue. That was one of the more important aspects of the social media campaign that they used to get the message out, real need that could only be addressed by real fans who wanted to help keep the comic book store open.
Effectively they were able to keep this message; we need help, in front of their fans throughout the months it took them to raise the money they needed to keep their doors open. The use of Facebook and Reddit was probably the two most important sections of keeping their message in front of the public. Reddit is known for its fanatical devotee’s to a cause, as well as being one of the more important places on the internet for finding out cutting edge issues. Between these groups the message kept on getting repeated and reposted as way to help out someone who really needed it, and really deserved to be helped.
While I do not believe that just any comic book store could have done this, Comic Book Ink’s use of social media formed much like a grass roots political campaign. I do not think that the original intention of the store owners was to have the process extend and expand the way it did, but once it did, the comic book store owners were very good about keeping the momentum going using their Facebook page and updating their fans on what was happening. The combination of grass roots, and continually updating interested parties also played a great role in the message that was being shared across the internet.
The key points of this:
- Believable story for an award winning comic book store in danger of closing
- The economy and the havoc it has had on just about everyone on main street
- An unplanned grass roots campaigned that once noticed was fed with a steady stream of updates so that people could follow the progress of the campaign
- A planned and well executed inclusion of traditional media and social media to get the story out
- An honest reason why they needed the help, including a total amount, and a way to reach endgame, or the full amount needed
- An interesting and successful use of Indieagogo to help raise the last five thousand dollars
If your social media campaign is not using any or all of these elements to help raise money for a project, you might want to take a closer look at what was going on with Comic Book Ink by reading the many articles that went out on this save the store campaign. Google is an awesome way to start becoming familiar with this story, and it is well worth watching for anyone who is looking to do something similar.
- Comic Book Ink makes it they get to live to fight on (comicsforge.com)
- Comic Book Ink in Tacoma Washington in danger of closing (comicsforge.com)
- Tacoma Comic Book Store Asks for Help (slog.thestranger.com)
- A Multi Service approach to social media (techwag.com)
- Comics and MP3s (graphicpolicy.com)
(Cross-posted @ Techwag)