How To Find Serial Kickstarter Backers
This article was written by Elena Mikhaylova, the CEO of CrowdfundProductions, a company that puts on crowdfunding events and helps entrepreneurs launch crowdfunding campaigns.
Kickstarter is the symbol of crowdfunding for most people who have ever heard of the phenomena. But, besides the brand recognition, Kickstarter’s most valuable asset is the community of serial backers. There are over 2 million people who have supported more than one project on the site and over 40,000 people who backed 25 or more projects. Many of these people pledge not just their money, but their time and efforts and feel emotionally involved in everything that is going on on the website.
This comment from Adrienne McNicholas, who ran the Food Huggers Kickstarter, underscores the fact:
“Early on we noticed some supporters were noticeably more active (and interactive) in the campaign. These people were serial backers and their experience, comments and feedback from participating in so many campaigns was very helpful to us. The crowd funding community has a lot of people who wish to support not just specific projects, but to support the business model overall. By backing several projects they have had a front row seat to see what works best and what falls short with different types of projects and their expertise is very valuable.”
But, how do you find these people and let them know about your project?
Of course, the easiest way is the Kickstarter website itself. Being chosen by the Kickstarter staff members as a staff pick, new and noteworthy, or a featured project helps bring more visitors to your page. But, the biggest impact you will get is when your campaign is included in the weekly newsletter “Projects We Love.” It will immediately result in thousands of targeted visitors and, hopefully, hundreds of new pledges. The Alice in Wonderland Book Kickstarter experienced just this!
Realistically, this is the case for approximately 5% of all Kickstarter campaigns. So, what can the rest of the creators do?
The answer is build your crowd through social networking and participate in group discussions. Check out crowdfunding communities on Facebook, Linkedin, Google+, and Reddit. Make sure to start early! Nobody likes people who are capable of talking just about themselves. So, in order to be heard, you need to establish yourself as a community member who cares about the success of others.
“When we first came up with the idea of Sentri, one of the big questions we needed to address was landing on a name. Sentri and Kronosight were two of the top contenders, and we decided to put the vote out to actual potential customers. Using just $40, we put this to the test on Facebook, combining copy around smart homes with different names. Ads that had the name ‘Sentri’ had a 4x higher clickthrough rate than any other name — leading us to where we are today.” (Wendi Qi, project Sentri, raised almost $400,000 on Kickstarter).
Let’s look at Facebook. Simple search for groups related to Kickstarter and crowdfunding brings approximately a hundred results. Choose the ones that have active discussions and start participating. Don’t waste your time on the groups where the members only promote their own campaigns. They don’t care about your project and will not bring you new backers.
Make sure to read the group rules before posting anything! For example, posting your own project in The Wayward Backer group will get you banned and your post deleted. But, you can mention your project in a comment on another post or in a response to another group member’s question. The admin of BackersHub only posts projects for promotional rates (starting from $147). Some of the groups, like BackThisProject, don’t allow project creators to post their own campaigns, but encourage the backers to share the links and to discuss current campaigns and perks. You should monitor backers groups in case anyone asks a question about your project (or you can encourage your backers to do so in order to share the information).
There is also a significant number of category specific Facebook groups: Kickstarter Board Games (almost 2,000 members), Kickstarter Games (more than 800 members), Crowdfunding: Playing Cards (almost 2,600 members), RPG Kickstarter News (more than 2,100).
For a full list, check out 23 places on Facebook to promote your Kickstarter or Indiegogo project.
If you are located outside of the United States or have many potential customers there, don’t miss on national crowdfunding groups. I can give you an example for Russia where I am originally from. There are several small Russian speaking crowdfunding groups and two major ones: Russians on Kickstarter (almost 5,300 members) and Kickstarter4Advanced (more than 1,200 members). Besides that, there is a Kickstarter group (more than 4,800 members) in VKontakte, the major Russian social network.
A Linkedin search for crowdfunding groups brings you 661 results. Of course, most of them are dead or useless, but you may find it beneficial to join several large groups to learn from others and to get feedback on your pre-launch crowdfunding page. For example, the Crowdsourcing & Crowdfunding Projects group has more than 29,000 members and country specific sub-groups. To promote your campaign, post the information in the groups where your target auditory gathers.
Twitter doesn’t have groups, but you can follow active accounts promoting crowdfunding projects like @backercamp and @crowdsifter. You can also find live projects from your sub-category on Kickstarter and tweet/re-tweet information about them. That would connect you with their current community and attract people interested in projects similar to yours.
I would also like to mention KickstarterForum.org. While it is mostly a place for campaign creators to discuss their projects, the backers can learn there about new projects, ask questions, or share concerns. It has more than 3,200 members and 50K+ monthly views. To prevent spam, the forum has a rule: “You must comment on at least 3 threads before contributing your own topic or pitching your own project.” The system also assigns stars based on your post count and give badges to valued members. It adds credibility to more active members and stimulates discussions.
Finally, there is no better promoters of your campaign than your backers. But, don’t take them for granted. In order to make them excited and wanting to spread the word about your campaign, you, the creator, should post regular updates and respond to comments. It creates trust and gives your supporters an opportunity to share new information with their friends.
Also, being a part of the backers’ community can help you better understand how they think and their expectations. So, it will be beneficial for you to start from supporting other crowdfunding projects before asking for money for yourself. “They (serial backers) really appreciate people who are obviously part of the community. These are people who have backed other projects, and who quickly respond/rapport with potential backers.” (Zach Jordan, project Tongue Spank).
Serial backers are the spinal cord of Kickstarer. They not only pledge more money, but also actively share your campaign in social networks, bringing more backers on board, and comment on your page offering their expertise. Having active discussions helps your page go up in Kickstarter search results and attracts additional traffic.
From my own experience (I’ve been involved in almost 90 crowdfunding campaigns over two and half years), social media brings you between 15 and 35 percent of all the campaign pledges. But, besides that, running active campaigns in social networks, will help you beyond a short term project. “Facebook not only gave us a platform to engage with new backers, but also has acted as a social base to build our community to ensure it continued long after our Kickstarter. At the end of the day, Kickstarter is more than just crowdfunding — it’s also about crowdsourcing ideas, features, and making sure that creators can incorporate the voice of the community from day 1. Being involved with that community will help you not only reach existing backers, but also find new ones as well.” (Wendi Qi, project Sentri)
About the Author
Elena Mikhaylova is a serial entrepreneur with twenty years of experience in diverse industries including crowdfunding, PR, and social media marketing. She is an internationally published author of hundreds of articles, several research papers and two books.
Elena has been a speaker at a number of international conventions and conferences and an instructor at Colorado Free University. She was also an organizer of one of the top ten largest crowdfunding meetups in the United States and was recognized as Top 1% on LinkedIn in 2012.