One crucial but often over-looked aspect to Kickstarter campaigns is the marketing required to successfully reach the project’s funding goal. Due to the nature of “crowd-sourced” funding, it is necessary that thousands of people see the project page in hopes that 100 might actually donate cash to the project. This can only be possible through the use of social media, i.e. sharing/liking/tweeting/blogging/etc. Most successful Kickstarter videos I saw online had well over 1,000 “Likes” on Facebook and some had well over 10,000. So it goes without saying that social media reach can make or break a campaign. Therefore, I decided to spend some time looking into how to launch an effective social media marketing campaign for my Alpine Hammock Project.
In terms of projects gaining traction, many blog articles talk about how important it is to get your Kickstarter project picked up by a major blog related to your project early on in the campaign. Typically, once a well respected entity covers your project (Gizmodo, Mashable, NY Times, Boston Globe, and other media in your field) then dozens of others are likely to pick it up and give you some type of press coverage over their social media networks.
So I spent several hours trying to find every outdoor gear related blog that I could get my social-media-savvy hands on. My search came up with almost 200 online entities that deal with the outdoor gear industry in some fashion, everything from small blogs to large companies, all actively using social media. I’m sure I could have found more but honestly I got tired and decided that ~200 was more than enough to start with.
Like any good engineer (read: nerd, data-enthusiast, etc), I created an excel document in an attempt to wrap my arms around all these social media opportunities for my Alpine Hammock Project. I segregated the entities I found by theme: Gear Testing (like GearJunkie.com), Climbing (like EveningSends.com) , Adventure (like AdventureJournal.com), General Outdoor Media (like Backpacker.com), Winter (like WildSnow.com) , Large Companies (like Outside Magazine), and even Hammock-specific forums (like HammockForums.net, and yes there are multiple websites devoted to people who love hammocks). It is a goal of mine to get my Alpine Hammock project picked up by as many of these 200 sites as possible in hopes that the project reaches their networks of outdoor gear addicts like myself, even better if it reaches people with the disposable income necessary to help make this project become a reality.
Having a lot of media options is great, however, it’s not as simple as just spamming the social media scene. In fact, this method is often counter-productive because people will get annoyed with you if you’re constantly pushing your product. It’s about building a community of people who dig your project and want to see you succeed. Just because you have 1,000 Facebook Likes doesn’t translate to them giving you their hard-earned cash. Generally you get money from the lead users of your product who are willing to put down some extra cash to be the first ones to own it. They want to see you succeed just as much if not more than getting the product itself. So being relevant and thoughtful while sending out frequent project updates is a great way to attain the funding goal.
Next, after separating each piece of online media by theme I dug a little deeper, creating columns in the excel document for hyperlinks to Twitter usernames, Facebook fan pages, and email contact information specific to that website.
Collecting this information was pretty boring and took a long time but I think the investment will be well worth it when on my project’s launch day I can easily send messages to all their social media pages. I drafted a few sample 140 character tweets, direct messages, Facebook posts and stock email paragraphs but the only way to really get picked up is to be authentic. I follow many of the outdoor gear websites daily so I don’t think it will be too hard to message them while referencing some relevant content that I’ve read on their site. Plus, it might actually be fun considering I have an addiction to outdoor gear. After my 100-Item-Challenge last November, I realized that 57% of the items I held onto were related to outdoor adventures. Also, despite having a 9-5 desk job, my Randomized PhotoJournal in October showed me that nearly 30% of my time while not in work is spent outside. So clearly outdoor gear and the adventures they enable are a huge part of my life, this is why I have a passion for making this Alpine Hammock Project a reality.
Now for the timing of Kickstarter PR. Almost every blog and personal friend who has done a Kickstarter campaign has talked about the “Dead Zone” i.e. the time through which your project is neither new nor almost finished. The beginning and the end are the two most exciting times in a project’s life, therefore, they see the highest amount of pledges. However, the lag time in between known as the Dead Zone typically results in minimal funding. This is why the vast majority of successful Kickstarter campaigns last 30 days or less, just enough time to maintain suspense, build the excitement, and reach the funding goal without people getting bored or losing interest. Here’s an example from a book called “Art Space Tokyo”:
Art Space Tokyo was a five week campaign that saw $1700 on its first day and $1300 on it’s last day. However, around the fourth week there was a 12 day dead zone that hit with full force. What this tells me is that I should really push the promotion of my campaign during my next-to-last week in order to combat the lag in interest. The first and last days are usually very powerful in terms of funding but consistent donations seems to be key to successfully raising enough funds.
In the days leading up to my project’s Launch Day, I plan to follow (on Twitter) and like (on Facebook) as many relevant blogs and media sites as possible. Hopefully this will help spread awareness of my project before it is actually launched. If you have any suggestions along the way feel free to message me via Twitter, Facebook, or Email (AlpineHammock@gmail.com).