Yucky Framing: Health Tragedies as Market Opportunity

doctors-call Bloomberg is bullish about crowdfunding sites.  Soaring health care costs and the possibility of a new health act replacing the ACA means that there will likely be an increase in uninsured and underinsured which means more people than ever will be scrambling to find a way to pay medical bills. That means more and more people will be asking for support via sites like Go Fund Me.

“For more and more Americans, vying in a popularity contest for a limited supply of funds and sympathy may be the only way to pay the doctors and stay afloat,” writes Suzanne Woolley.

This turns health funding into a contest for who can craft the most sympathetic sob story, a modern, high-stakes Queen for a Day.

And that means that the crowdfunding sector, for which medical bills already make up a large percentage of their volume, is facing a boom.

“With enough volume, the business of helping people raise money for medical care has a lot of profit potential.”



Please Do Not “Like” My Post

I am annoyed with the Facebook like button.

A few days ago my partner and I launched an ambitious Kickstarter program to create a ballet tour with international artists.  It represents a goal we have had for nearly a decade so it is a big deal for us. But I am not writing today to ask for your support. (Not that I would turn it down.)

I am writing to complain about Facebook liking.

Facebook liking is not the same as doing something,

I am struggling to put my particular pet peeve into words without seeming ungrateful for the digital pats on the back we have received in the form of like clicks.  There is a time and place for “liking.” “Like” seems an appropriate response to a post like: “Enjoying the sun today.”

“Like” in this case means, “I don’t have anything to add to that, but I hear you.”  “You are not shouting into the void.” (The electronic equivalent of saying “Uh-huh.”)

Imagine, however, a conversation in real life that goes like this:

“I am selling candy bars to raise money for a class trip.”

“I like that.”

“Great…. Um… So, do you want to buy a candy bar?”

“I like candy bars.”

“So you want one?”

“I like that you’re doing this.”

“Yeah. Um. Thanks.”

When you are requesting action and people click like, but do not act, it is, in a word, frustrating.

I have to confess that I am quite often a lazy liker. It is much easier to click a button to signal approval of a friend’s life milestone than to find something to say. I click, I guess, because I think I will get friendship points for responding in some way.

Maybe I should try to put my money where my mouth is and stop “liking” things when I have nothing to contribute.

Sometimes When You Dance Like an Idiot Amazing Things Happen

I have loved this Youtube video, Leadership From a Dancing Guy, since I first saw it when a friend of mine posted it on Facebook a while back. It shows how it is the first followers and not the leader who create a movement. “The first follower transforms a lone nut into a leader.”

I have seen the theory of this video demonstrated in the past week. I have been plugging my crowdfunding project to get my next novel Identity Theft into print.  I have to tell you that I have, much of the time, felt like an idiot. I was metaphorically dancing around, arms flailing, drawing attention to myself (and I’m not a drawing-attention-to-myself kind of gal). There were times when I felt like  combination beggar and clown.

One of my writer friends Ronald L. Herron, who maintains the blog Painting with Light, published some sobering and discouraging figures about the reach of social media.

When you consider maybe half the people in a social network will actually see a posting (assuming they aren’t following so much stuff they don’t have time to read any of it), and maybe one percent of those who see it will respond, and about five percent of the responders will buy, you’ll understand why marketing types today use this formula to evaluate social media:

(followers) x (50% see it) x (1% pay attention) x (5 % buy it) = sales.

Using this as gospel, you can figure out what the outcome will be for any given social networking post. For the sake of example, I’ve chosen an audience following of 100,000 (I should be so lucky). It works out something like this:

100,000 x 50% x 1% x 5% = 25

You read that right. Assuming you have something to sell, a posting to 100,000 followers on your social media site (your blog, the Twitter, the Book of Face, or whatever else you use) could possibly translate into 25 sales. Maybe.

Twenty-five. That’s it.

Considering all the time I spend on those sites, those numbers made me feel sick, too.

I have almost 2000 follows here. Another 1650 on The Twitter. Only about 53 on the Book of Face (I’m not real active there). I’m not at all sure about Pinterest or Tumblr or LinkedIn or any of the others I’m on and vaguely familiar with, so I won’t count them.

So let’s say it’s about 4000.

Let’s see … 4000 followers x 50% x 1% x 5% = 1.


I read a lot of advice on how to have an effective crowdfunding campaign and it always said you have to keep plugging away. Don’t lose enthusiasm.

That is hard for a number of reasons. You’re afraid of driving away the friends and followers you do have with spam. You (ok, I) hate drawing attention to yourself and again, there is the person begging in a clown suit aspect. When the results fail to come quickly you’re inclined to hide in shame, remove your campaign post and say, “Sorry, I was only joking.”

But if you believe in your project and want to see it happen, you soldier on. You double down and dance even more wildly.  (“All arms and legs and no control” as the world famous ballet dancer David Hallberg once uncharitably said of his student self.)

Then one day something amazing happens.

You can’t control it. You can’t make it happen. It just does. When you’ve nearly given up.

A couple of days ago Identity Theft suddenly jumped from 27% funded to 44% funded in a single day.

I didn’t know why until someone I know from church forwarded me an e-mail message that had been going around. Two friends were spreading the word about the project and personally inviting their contacts to support it.

When they talk about crowdfunding on marketing sites and they use words like “activate your network” it doesn’t begin to describe what that means. I was deeply touched by my friends’ support. That simple act transformed my campaign from one that was floundering to one that has momentum and looks likely to reach its minimum goal (it is only $90 away) and maybe even to reach its upper goal. We are nearly half way there. (Pubslush is fairly unique among crowdfunding sites in that it allows authors to chose both a minimum and an upper funding goal. That way you can seek the bare minimum to do the project and not lose that backing, and you can also propose a figure to do the project as you would like and not cut so many corners.)

Sometimes when you dance like an idiot amazing things happen.