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To Get Funded On Kickstarter, Talk About Cats And Karma (And Don't Grovel)

Jan 15 2014, 12:01pm CST | by , in News

To Get Funded On Kickstarter, Talk About Cats And Karma (And Don't Grovel)
Photo Credit: Forbes
 
 

If you’ve contributed to a lot of strangers’ Kickstarter campaigns, you no doubt thought you were giving money to projects you saw as having particular social value, utility or artistic merit. In fact, your giving was probably influenced by the language in which those projects were described.

Two researchers at the Georgia Institute of Technology, Tanushee Mitra and Eric Gilbert, analyzed the language on 45,000 Kickstarter pages to find out whether specific words and phrases made a campaign more or less likely to meet its funding target.

The answer was a resounding yes. Using a form of statistical analysis known as penalized logistic regression, they concluded, “The language used by creators to pitch their project plays a major role in driving the project’s success, accounting for 58.56% of the variance around success.”

To put that another way: It’s already known that variables such as duration of campaign and presence of a video demo play a large part in influencing whether a project gets funded or not. Those variables alone can be used to predict success with an error rate of about 17%. But when the linguistic predictors identified by the study’s authors are added into the model, the error rate drops to 2.4%.

The authors suggest Kickstarter and other crowdfunding platforms could use their findings to help users improve their odds of success through a help center or FAQ. (Kickstarter already publishes other types of tips on its blog.) They might even want to incorporate them into some sort of autocorrect-type tool that would alert users when they’re using language that negatively predicts success.

That, of course, is off in the future. For now, here are a few things would-be crowdfunding recipients should keep in mind. Some of these tips will be obvious to anyone familiar with the psychology of persuasion; a few of them less so.

-Convey confidence. Phrases that convey a sense of assurance, such as “project will be,” are associated with higher success rates. Phrases that carry a whiff of uncertainty or negativism, eg. “hope to get” or “not been able,” are to be avoided.

-Don’t grovel. In crowdfunding as in romance, desperation is the worst cologne. The authors identify the phrase “even a dollar” as an example of the sort of thing that turns would-be donors off. (Interestingly, Kickstarter’s tips blog suggests asking for $1 as a way to “make a great first impression.”)

-Stress the reward. No shocker here: People will give more when they expect to get something in return. Phrases likealso receive two” and “mention your” (as in “mention your name”) are strong predictors of success. The rewards can even be metaphysical: “Good karma” made the list of the top 100 positive predictors.

-Make it sound like a rare opportunity. Scarcity is a strong motivator. Use language that makes this sound like a one-time-only opportunity.

-Use social proof. The phrase “has pledged” turns readers into donors by making them feel like other people like them have already contributed.

-When all else fails, talk about Brooklyn and/or cats. Both topics are on the list of strong positive predictors. The Brooklyn thing kind of makes sense, given the borough’s association with artisanal maker culture. As for the other one, write the authors, “We had no clear explanation for the occurrence of cats — except for the commonly accepted wisdom that the internet loves them.”

(H/t Motherboard)

Source: Forbes

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