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Social Media Marketing for a Kickstarter Campaign – Pt. 3

So, you’ve decided that Kickstarter is right for you, and you’ve expanded your horizons for ways to broadcast the message for your Kickstarter. Now you might be thinking:

What makes a successful Kickstarter campaign?

From what I can see, Kickstarters generally succeed for one of four reasons (though the list is certainly not exhaustive):

  1. The campaign focuses on a small, achievable funding target that outlines an easy-to-comprehend need and doesn’t require much capital to succeed
  2. The people behind the campaign have an idea that is revolutionary… or they have a highly-coveted product that they offer as a reward for a pledge that is drastically under-priced compared to what the retail price will be in the future (creating the sense that there is a high return for investing in this product at an early stage)
  3. The campaign or project is centered around a well-known person who can easily rally social support through their existing social media networks
  4. The campaign team spends a lot of time and energy expanding awareness of their project across multiple channels, leveraging personal connections, social media, traditional marketing, press releases, and press opportunities both before and throughout the life of the campaign

Most of us probably don’t have a huge audience yet (though it pays to try to build one up before you do a Kickstarter). And unless you are a well-known musician or in product/fashion design and have an audience ready and waiting for what you’ve got to offer, you might find yourself needing to be scrappy to get your funding targets met.  Sure, scenario #4 probably applies to people who fall under #1-#3, but if you don’t have #1-#3 going for you, then you really have to lean into using all your marketing resources to achieve your aims.

My team is promoting a documentary. Naturally, the impact of the story we are trying to tell, the quality of the team that we have assembled, and the beautiful way that Cynthia and Juvie illustrated the film’s concept are all keys toward communicating that this is a project worth contributing to. But let’s face it—we are competing against hundreds of other quality documentaries who are also seeking funds through Kickstarter, and a film is not something that affords any obviously radical awards that can attract people on their own flash and dazzle.

We had to get creative to come up with some unique rewards, and use those awards to create a personal connection with our contributors. However, persistence has been the biggest key to date, and I imagine that this is true for most projects. Creativity, consistency, and dedication are absolute necessities for anyone to succeed in Kickstarter funding. Good thing we have the wonderful tools of social media and on-line networking to help spread the word and make our jobs easier!

Dedication to the campaign

I have heard a number of stories about people who took the month off to focus on funding their Kickstarter, or at least had to put aside all of their free time toward the effort of keeping the buzz going. You have to be dedicated and ready to release regular updates, or you’ll lose the interest of your audience. People pay attention to things like number of updates over the life of the Kickstarter when contributing, and regular conversation around your project helps people to maintain awareness of your campaign (also, lower numbers of updates could communicate a lack of commitment to the project, and you want to make sure to get across the passion you have for achieving your target).

You also can’t be afraid to keep promoting your campaign in your personal channels, to ask friends to help, or to contact people who can spread your message more widely. You can do it in friendly ways, by offering special rewards to people who contribute by a certain time, are the 25th or 100th contributor, or periods of time where you give higher-level rewards to lower-level contributions. We did a few of these on our Kickstarter, offering $30 level rewards to people who contributed $20 on a certain day.

Consistency in social engagement

One thing I consistently hear is that people worry so much about annoying the people in their social circles through regular updates, and this can cause them to hold back at a time when they really need to keep reminding people about their efforts. During our Kickstarter, I asked friends, “Are my posts annoying you? Be honest.” I was happy when they replied, “Absolutely not!” Most everyone was excited to see my progress and feel a part of the journey. And they universally agreed that it was necessary in order to get to the goal.

So don’t be afraid to talk about your project… If you are sincerely excited and treat it as an opportunity to share your enthusiasm about your vision, people will be glad to tag along for the ride. And as the finish line draws closer, you might be amazed to see friends and colleagues rally around your project to spread the word… Especially if you are bold enough to keep asking.

Creative content and outreach

Keep coming up with content related to your Kickstarter to keep people engaged without simply spamming them with money requests. We had lots of goodies to share over the life of our project, like logo designs, interviews, project news, and video samples. The more goodies like this that you can build up before you start, the better. (And the less exhausted you will be during the campaign itself.) Also, don’t be afraid to add new rewards to different contribution levels as you go, especially if ideas organically come up over the life of the project. There are no people better than your Kickstarter tribe to reveal the things your audience is really jonesing to receive for their pledge.

Contact web sites with related subject matter to your project. The leaders of our project contacted a few derby-related sites with information about the project and landed an article as well as a podcast. Derby-related Facebook groups and pages followed us, and some of their owners promoted the project in their social media venues.

Facebook pages, likes, and ads

Don’t forget to create a Facebook page for your project. This helps you develop a community of people who will follow your journey toward funding. You can use Facebook ads in a number of ways to expand awareness of your project… Try creating an ad to promote the Kickstarter and another to promote your Facebook page, and don’t be afraid to experiment with titles, descriptions, imagery, and demographics. (We got around 500 likes on our page from the ad by targeting derby fans and derby aficionados in Mexico, and if we had done it before the campaign we would have had more people on board and ready to support us from day one. Whenever someone likes the page through our ad, we get a double bonus: they can easily follow the project, and if their friends see that they liked the ad, then they will be more likely to follow along, as well.)

Unless you purchase subscriptions with sites designed to help track return on investment between FB ads and Kickstarter, you won’t know exactly what gains you get from the Kickstarter-focused ad… I think we got at least a couple of people supporting through this effort, and it definitely paid for itself. I will talk more about what I learned about Facebook ads in a later post, but in summary, you should definitely consider making Facebook ads a part of your arsenal.

Print promotions (and connecting them to your social media efforts)

It doesn’t hurt to create print materials to promote your Kickstarter and leave them around town right at the start of the campaign. Make sure you leave your materials in places relevant to your topic. I didn’t get many returns on our postcard endeavor (we handed out couple hundred of them at a derby bout), but I imagine that the results you get will be heavily dependent on the type of project you are running. Try fliers and postcards, and be sure to include a QR code so that people can quickly go to your page if they see it on the go.

Another suggestion for which print assets would be helpful is if you set up a table at any relevant events where you can discuss your project with people 1-on-1 and make an in-person connection. (If you have a laptop handy you can let them contribute right then or there, or you can take cash contributions and work with a friend to turn this into Kickstarter cash.) I’ll share some tips later about ways to optimize your print materials for your campaign.

When generating promo materials and rewards for supporters, make sure you consider the return on each investment. Don’t set yourself up to owe more in rewards or marketing than you make on your Kickstarter campaign. And try dipping your toe in the water of any new materials you put out. If you aren’t sure if a postcard will work for your promotion, start out by trying a few fliers from your color printer first, and track the results of those before expanding.

Tap the tribes of thought leaders

The most results you will get are by finding connections with notable people in your area of interest and getting their help to promote your project. If you aren’t widely known, getting the assistance of better-known people and tapping into their circle of followers is the best way to push your effort forward. Consider offering a favor or special reward in return for their help. Just make sure your ask is relevant to their focus, and that you quickly get to the point on your ask. Anything that makes them feel like they’ve just been spammed is going to hurt your effort more than help it. And they are likely very busy people, so make sure you don’t waste their time.

Go get’m!

In short, be bold and experimental! Get ready to work your toosh off and make new friends! And if you don’t make it on the first try, don’t worry… There is an art to creating a successful Kickstarter campaign, and there are lots of stories out there from successful campaigns about the many false starts that preceded amazing victories.

Stay tuned for my upcoming posts on Facebook ads and optimizing print promotions to integrate seamlessly with your web marketing.


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Social Media Marketing for a Kickstarter Campaign – Pt. 2

Kickstarter LogoMy last post in this series was about how I utilized Storify.com as a part of my marketing strategy for the Kickstarter campaign I am helping out on. Let me take a moment to explain a bit about Kickstarter, as some of you may not be sure what the big fuss is.

What is Kickstarter?

Kickstarter is, in a nutshell, one of the most popular fundraising sites out there in a new trend of crowd-funding. It’s a sort of marketplace where capital is collected from interested parties, in support of creative projects and business endeavors. A user can search for projects that interest them and support a project financially at any level. Unlike traditional investing, you don’t get any ownership over the project, but part of the model of Kickstarter is that different levels of contributions can qualify for different levels of awards, which are defined by the project owners. Each Kickstarter campaign must set a target amount and a target time at which to acquire this full amount from supporting members… If the target amount is not received by the deadline, then the Kickstarter isn’t funded. That is, no one who contributed will end up paying. This assures that people only get funded as long as they will actually have the full amount they need to achieve their goals.

This model is responsible for much of Kickstarter’s popularity. The competition aspect keeps followers engaged, and the more the campaign team embraces this notion of “racing towards the finish line” in a spirit of fun, the more enthusiastic supporters feel about joining along to help the project race against the clock for their fundraising. Because of the inclusive nature of running a Kickstarter campaign, it is perfectly suited for social media marketing.

Is Kickstarter something you should consider for funding your own project?

Something to keep in mind when asking yourself this question is that it is actually a lot of work to get money on Kickstarter. Not only do you have to spend the length of the campaign promoting the heck out of it on social media and other venues, but you also have to be ready to deliver the goods on any awards you offer at the end of it. Most people find Kickstarter campaigns exhausting. But, if you are ready to tackle the work and feel like your project is well-aligned with this method of fundraising, it may just be worth a try. After all, some people have tremendous success on Kickstarter and end up raising the funds they need to make a dream come true (and then there are those lucky souls who get way more than they ever dreamed possible).

Just make sure you’re asking for something appropriate to this method of fundraising… Set very specific targets for things you will spend your money on, like materials, services, production processes, travel, equipment, or easy-to-define project phases (and don’t expect to get people to pay your groceries and rent just so you can have time to make something). The more easily people can understand where your money is going, the more likely they are to trust you to be responsible with their gift.

And if you don’t feel equipped to make regular social media updates, you might find Kickstarter is not the venue for you… Either consider other methods for fundraising, or add people to your team who are enthusiastic and consistent communicators on social media channels.

In my next post I will talk about the elements that I think make a Kickstarter campaign successful.


Social Media Marketing for a Kickstarter Campaign – Pt. 1

I wanted to share an exciting documentary project on which I am acting as art director and creating various types of marketing, including social media. “Flat Track Around the World” is a movie about the globally transformative power of women’s roller derby, and is very different from other derby films in that it really looks into the soul of derby and asks the question, “Does derby have the power to transform the lives of women, and the communities they live in, worldwide?”

It’s a powerful concept that I really believe in, not to mention the enthusiasm I feel for its producer, my very talented colleague, Cynthia Lopez. This isn’t her first international documentary (or rodeo for that matter—or should I say roller derby?), and she has lots of experience that makes her the perfect person to help the lead—Juvie Hall, co-captain of the Guns-n-Rollers—go on this grand adventure around the world and capture it on film. Cynthia is a fantastic visual storyteller and has a knack for capturing people’s stories in a compelling way. (She’s great at promoting the soul of businesses, too, which is why I’m putting her in charge of the video production wing of my new business.)

Helping to promote this documentary has been an interesting process. I have learned a lot about how to successfully use social media for a Kickstarter over the last couple of weeks. I’ve had great fun creating the logo and other materials, and it’s been exciting to see how tying together social media marketing, branding, and more traditional marketing can help the success of a project, and contribute to more successfully funding a month-long Kickstarter campaign. Once I have all the cards on the table, I’ll be excited to share my findings with you.

There are lots of new tools out there that can really help promote any project, including a Kickstarter documentary, in compelling ways that can potentially bring an interested audience to your doorstep. Included below you will see my first attempt at an article using an awesome site called Storify, where you can collect elements from several social media and web channels in order to bring together details of any story you want to share, and connect the dots between the various forms of communication we have available on today’s web. (This tool was shared with me by another fabulous cohort, Saundra Sorenson, who is a social media maven and fabulous writer.)

Embedded below you will find one of my many experiments of late with new advertising and PR channels using this fabulous, free tool. While I didn’t use it in this capacity on my own story, it would be very easy to connect with taste-makers in your topic of interest by using this tool to build a story that connects cultural happenings and conversations directly to your own project or personal story. Storify will then notify the connected content creators through things like trackbacks (site-to-site contact that lets the original content owner know that someone has re-posted their content). This is a compelling way to make connections, and does it in a truly informative way that puts the content front and center, yet leaves the door open for relevant people to connect with you.