Less than a week away from a Kickstarter launch, social media marketing is on my mind.
It’s all anyone really talks about when you’re trying to raise awareness for a new product. Gone are the days when you would post a printed press release to the local newspaper .1
Online media is obviously a natural place to publicise an online product launch. Not least because there’s an immediate and actionable message to convey: ‘Click here to back my product. Right now.’ Conversely, how often have you seen something interesting in a magazine, made a mental note to follow it up, and then never have?
The beauty of the internet is that you can probably find a blogger, who despite having a tiny fraction of the readership of more traditional media, writes about exactly the kind of thing you’re selling, and you therefore have a massively greater chance of reaching people who give a shit about what you’re doing.
Build a following!
Get Twitter followers they said. It’s all about likes on Facebook. Easy, right?
It’s damn hard work if you ask me. Maybe I don’t have a natural affinity to social media in the way some people do. The dynamics of it all truly baffle me sometimes. Maybe it’s because I’m old enough to have normally-developed thumbs.
I got my first email address in 1998 just before I went to university when Mark Zuckerberg was 14 years old. When I got to university my department had a 'computer room’ and the only people who had computers at home were computer science students. I was in my mid twenties before Facebook, and then Twitter, came along.
I’m not trying to make excuses. Just saying…
So when it comes to publicizing a Kickstarter campaign, it seems obvious that social media is a big deal.
Before diving in and aimlessly trying to build up a following for my Ockham Razor I thought I’d look at what others had done. I wanted to look into the correlation between measurable social media variables and Kickstarter success.
I decided to look at the top 20 grossing Kickstarter campaigns and their Twitter, Facebook and Instagram followings. These 20 projects raised an average of $2.3 from an average of 15,000 backers. 2
Interestingly, I couldn’t even find social media accounts for some of these multimillion-raising projects. For one of them I couldn’t find a Twitter account; for three, no Facebook page and for almost half I couldn’t find an Instagram account. Maybe I didn’t look hard enough: let me know if you can find something forBibliotheca for example, who raised $1.4 million last year.
I also noticed that some campaigns had relatively established companies behind them, and therefore existing fans. Lomography for example has two projects in the top 20 so I thought the data might be a bit skewed for them and not so relevant to me.
I’m not going to go crazy with graphs, but here’s one showing the number of Kickstarter backers vs Twitter followers. (I removed the two Lomograph projects, and another couple of outliers to make the scale clearer.)
I haven’t done any proper statistical analysis on my data but that certainly doesn’t look like a positive correlation to me. Facebook likes had a similar scatter and Instagram looked even more like a negative correlation.
So what’s going on here then? Is this saying that social media is irrelevant if you want to do well on Kickstarter?
Firstly, 20 is not a great sample size so I should be careful not to read to much into this data. Ignoring correlations with Kickstarter, there were some other interesting insights such as the fact that the average number of Facebook likes was ten times the average number of Twitter followers.
This favouring of Facebook is in line with something else I’ve noticed anecdotally. When looking at design and style blogs as I’ve been doing my research, I often see that articles are shared on Facebook a lot more than on Twitter. This may just be the kind of websites I’ve been visiting but they are my target audience so I should probably pay attention to that.
Generally, it does feel that Facebook is a more 'deliberate’ place to be and that interest and engagement is likely to be better. There seems to be a lot more noise on Twitter and therefore less chance of being heard. It seems full of 'online marketing experts’ with 18.2k followers, who almost certainly won’t help your cause.
Another point is that people can share your content without necessarily following or liking you.
So, what now?
If I can take anything away from my armchair statistical analysis it is perhaps that I should make more effort with Facebook over Twitter. Although reaching out to key influential bloggers directly is probably more rewarding than both of those.
Getting President Obama, Justin Bieber and Stephen Fry to tweet about your product will probably help, but if the product is rubbish you’ll eventually sink. If you build something great you have a much better chance of success. Take Kraftwerk for example who raised over $1.5 million dollars and they still only have 220 Twitter followers. Maybe people are just getting mixed up with the other Kraftwerk.
The internet has profoundly opened up opportunities for innovation. However, the recipe for success must still come down to making something that people want and telling people about it. Social media can help with the second half of that, but it’s not magic.
I will end it here and, for a moment, overcome my English sensibilities about self-publicity.
(in that order)
Or, even better, if you’re an award-winning men’s style journalist, please do get in touch.
1 Do look out for a piece on the Ockham Razor in the Islington Gazette next week though!
2 In hindsight it might have been more interesting to look at less well funded successful projects rather than those who raise millions, but I think this data is still interesting. It’s also worth noting that I only looked at present-day social media stats rather than historical data that aligns with the running of the Kickstarter campaign, but again I think these still provide some insight.