One of the true wonders of Kickstarter – and crowdfunding in general – is the direct link established between the creator and the fan. However, this unique opportunity requires a surprisingly careful approach, if it’s to reach its full potential.
Inspired by this blog post, we discuss issues brought up by some Kickstarter Superbackers, and assess the advice given on a semi-regular basis. If you’re a prospective project creator – or a backer interested in the nuts and bolts of building and maintaining a successful project – you can find the rest of the series here.
Kickstarter creates a channel of communication between the project creator and the backers. The former can present their product and their vision, while the latter ask questions, cheer on, express concerns, give suggestions, or make demands.
Staying in touch with your backers seems like a must – but how to do it right? Abandoning the project completely will lead to disaster – but will information overload not have a similar effect?
Your backers need to stay informed, and the simple advice of making it possible is solid as a rock. After all, you’re forming a bond of trust, and until what you promised is delivered to their homes, they will perceive the whole process as a risky endeavour for them (and not for you). That is why a good Kickstarter project creator has his ear to the ground, and is ready to answer questions on a regular basis.
A good project creator should also know that preponderance is their friend. While writing up ad-hoc updates is something we all do – and will keep on doing – to answer the needs of our backers, having some of the key ones prepared in advance is always a prudent choice. So, if you know you’ll want to expand on your delivery schedule, or you want to tell people more about a certain mechanism of your game, write it up ahead of time. You can always make adjustments later.
A Kickstarter project will not run itself: lively communication between the creator and the backers is one of the elements of making your project look attractive. However, too little creator involvement can have an effect ranging from slightly negative, to truly disastrous. Especially, if your backers catch wind of an issue you don’t want to discuss, or would rather keep to yourself.
On the other hand, too much involvement can also have a negative effect on your project. Keeping your updates regular and informative is commendable (and good for you), but spawning two every day is going to tire your backers pretty quickly. Especially, if they discover that – instead of relevant information – they have their inbox full of useless information about road trips, holiday plans, or house pets.
Keeping updates clear and informative is great. Answering questions on a regular basis is equally good. Answering every question immediately in a separate comment is a road leading into madness and dropped pledges.
Be sure to talk to your backers regularly, but also be sure not to paint yourself into a sleepless corner of every answer being just a few minutes away. Unless you have a big, competent team that can deal with your immensely popular project 24 hours a day, you will have to go to sleep eventually – or with a longer campaign, you’ll have to take a few hours off. Backers are great people, but a sudden (inevitable) drop in activity may make some of them feel suddenly neglected, and that is something you want to avoid. In short: after the rush of the first day or two make sure that the pace of communication is one you can handle consistently throughout your campaign, even if that leaves some questions unanswered for 3 or 4 hours.
We’ve had different experiences with communication over the last four years of putting projects on Kickstarter. We’ve dealt with backers eager to talk and share, and with ones that remain silent (with the campaign still remaining at a nice, progressive pace), and we’ve found that proper communication hinges on a mix of consistency and adaptability.
There’s also a lot to be said for communication that is truthful. If you’re asked a question you cannot answer, simply admit that and give your backers a realistic estimation on when you will be able to tell them what they need to know. Do not try to avoid answering a difficult question: these things never go unnoticed.
Finally, remember that backers are your friends. Even when sometimes it may feel that some questions or remarks are hostile (and even if some of them simply are), all the people you’re talking to are here because they are picking up what you’re putting down, so simply make sure it’s worth it.
Do you have questions? Would you like to know more about a specific facet of Kickstarter project creation? Shoot us a question in the comments, or visit our Strawberry Kickstarter services website to get the insight and help you need with launching your own successful campaign.