Key Phrases Help Make A Kickstarter Campaign Successful: Study
January 15, 2014

Key Phrases Help Make A Kickstarter Campaign Successful: Study

Brett Smith for - Your Universe Online

Anyone who has ever considered shooting a movie, creating a video game or starting a company has probably looked at Kickstarter as a way of funding it and a new study from researchers at Georgia Tech has found certain key phrases most common to successful crowdfunding campaigns.

Kickstarter is a website that allows a person or company to fund their creative vision through an online pledge drive.

In the study – being presented at the 17th ACM Conference on Computer Supported Cooperative Work and Social Computing (CSCW 2014) in Baltimore this week – Georgia Tech researchers considered over 45,000 Kickstarter projects. The study team said they were able to identify dozens of phrases linked to successful campaigns and a few dozen more that can be mostly linked to failed efforts.

“Our research revealed that the phrases used in successful Kickstarter campaigns exhibited general persuasion principles,” said study researcher Eric Gilbert, who runs the social media lab at Georgia Tech. “For example, those campaigns that follow the concept of reciprocity – that is, offer a gift in return for a pledge – and the perceptions of social participation and authority, generated the greatest amount of funding.”

While offering donors a gift for their pledge may raise the odds for success, the study found the words project creators used in offering the remuneration had an impact. For example, the expressions “also receive two,” “has pledged” and “project will be” strongly predict that a project will reach funding status, the Georgia team said. Conversely, expressions such as “dressed up,” “not been able” and “trusting” were often associated with projects that did not meet their funding goal.

The researchers said they looked at two particular case studies: the successful Pebble campaign, which raked in over $10 million, and the campaign for Ninja Baseball, a well-publicized game that just earned a third of its $10,000 pledge goal.

“The discrepancy in funding success between projects like Pebble and Ninja Baseball prompted us to consider why some projects meet funding goals and others do not,” said study researcher Tanushree Mitra, a doctoral candidate at the university. “We found that the driving factors in crowdfunding ranged from social participation to encouragement to gifts – all of which are distinguished by the language used in the project description.”

In the study, the team cobbled together a list of all completed Kickstarter campaigns launched on or before June 2, 2012. Out of more than 45,000 projects, 51.5 percent met funding goals while 48.5 percent were unsuccessful.

After controlling for confounding factors such as social media connections and pledge levels, the study team compiled a dictionary of over 100 phrases thought to have predictive powers from a total of over 20,000.

The researchers said ‘successful language’ fit into the following categories: reciprocity, scarcity, social proof, social identity, liking and authority. While reciprocity phrases tapped into pledge makers’ sense of returning a favor after receiving one, scarcity phrases conveyed the sense to people that they were supporting something rare, researchers said. Both “social proof” and “social identity” phrases tapped into supporters’ sense to community. Authority phrases conveyed a sense of expertise to supporters; while “liking” phrases appealed to their sense of the familiar.