Kickstarter Projects Depend on Social Media For Success

by Gail Z. Martin

Social media plays a key role in funding a successful Kickstarter. That’s one reason anthologies do well, because they are a team effort and appeal to the readership of a dozen or more authors. On the other hand, I’ve seen individual authors and product developers also successfully Kickstart their projects by reaching out to their personal networks through social media and encouraging friends to tell friends.

Friends telling friends is really the secret to funding a Kickstarter, and it’s the essence of viral or word-of-mouth marketing. The more friends you can connect with early and often on social media, the more active you and they are in spreading the word, and the more interconnected interested parties are in talking up the project, the more buzz is in the marketplace and the more people find the project and contribute.

For example, the Kickstarter anthology project included seventeen original authors. Most were already active on Facebook or Twitter. The authors immediately liked, friended and followed each other so they could retweet, share, like and comment on each other’s posts about the project. The Kickstarter also had a Facebook fan page, a Facebook event page, a Tumblr page, Twitter hashtags, Pinterest posts, a YouTube video and a Goodreads event. Authors and their friends talked it up on all those social media sites plus others like Reddit and Google+, and reached out to bloggers, podcasters and book review sites. They kept up a constant flow of commentary, banter, witty repartee and flat-out asking for funding for 29 days, often interacting with each other in real-time on multiple platforms at once.  (And should you think the authors were all twenty-somethings, the average age was 40+).   Kickstarter needs constant buzz.  It’s not a set-it-and-forget-it medium.

Kickstarter creates an exciting opportunity to reach what pundits call the “Long Tail” of customers. The “long tail” refers to the trail of a comet, which stretches on for a long, long time beyond the comet itself. The marketing theory around the “long tail” holds that there are viable niche markets that often go untapped because they are too small to be profitable for the business models of very large companies, but which can provide a very nice living for entrepreneurs or small, efficient companies that can tap that niche and provide a desired outcome.

Thinking about bringing your product to market but stymied on funding? Take a look at Kickstarter. But remember, what appears to be just a funding mechanism is really an endeavor that requires a lively network, a clear concept, a niche audience and a lot of marketing mojo.

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