So we're almost two weeks into a Kickstarter campaign for my Ockham Razor and, needless to say, I’ve been spending more time on social media than I usually do. If the numbers are anything to go by, my Ockham Razor persona is far more popular than the real me.
I still don’t feel much closer to understanding the dynamics of social media though. It’s a funny old world, where a lot of people seem to have too much time on their hands. Or they get a robot to tweet for them, and then it all becomes a bit surreal. Even Stephen Fry has planned for his Twitter presence to continue during his voluntary sabbatical from the service.
As I pointed out last time, there isn’t necessarily a correlation between getting fans and followers on social media and Kickstarter success. And as I also noticed, Facebook seems to drive more traffic than Twitter. Twitter is so easy though, and you can make tweets automatically show up in your Facebook feed. However, the lazy option is rarely the best, and I don’t think Twitter is an exception.
I think a lot of people have an over-inflated sense of the power of internet. Ridiculous ‘stories’, like the debate over the colour of a dress, 'go viral’ and it feels like everyone can have their minute of internet fame. But this is a poor reflection of reality and an example of a cognitive error caused by survivorship bias.
I recently had the opportunity to observe, in real time, the underwhelming impotence of Twitter. A lady called Kath tweeted at will.i.am during the final of TV talent show, the Voice. He re-tweeted it, which is kind of cool because he has 13.1 million followers. That’s the stuff social media dreams are made of isn’t it? After half an hour or so it had been re-tweeted 18 times and been favourited 100 times. Those numbers haven’t changed since. Kath had 63 followers at the time of tweeting. She now has 71.
In short, pretty much nothing happened. The internet in general, and social media in particular, is very ephemeral. It’s hard to make a noticeable and lasting ripple.
So to get the word out about my Kickstarter campaign I’ve decided not to put too much energy into trying to make my own ripples. (Except within my own immediate and existing pond of friends, who have been inundated with spammy waves of Kickstarter-related updates.) Rather, I’ve tried to get onto the radar of the captains of much larger vessels (how much further can this metaphor go?).
Instead of tweeting and updating Facebook every ten minutes to my handful of followers, I am spending time messaging bloggers and websites that cover men’s style, products, and design. This is a laborious process because it takes a while to research each individual or publication to make sure I target my pitch as best I can. I don’t think a big group email would get me very far. I also hope that there is a sort of gearing effect whereby smaller blogs can be easier to approach, but potentially punch above their weight in terms of influence in a certain sphere. Pitching to the New York Times straight off the bat seems unlikely to be successful.
After some initial features in smaller blogs, and even my local paper, my approach yielded some larger fruit and I got very lucky. Last Thursday the Ockham Razor was featured on uncrate.com. That had a significant effect as clearly seen here.
The day after that, we became a 'Staff Pick’ on Kickstarter and the daily backers have been quite steady since then.
The first couple of weeks seem to have gone OK with my Kickstarter project, although I have no frame of reference having never done it before. We’re very far from home and dry though. This could be an uncomfortable read in a month’s time.
Social media has definitely helped to spread the word about the Ockham Razor, but I don’t think my own social media efforts have directly lead to many new backers. If a man tweets in the woods and nobody reads it, does it have any affect?
One thing about the internet I know for sure though, is that any idiot can say whatever they want and publish it online. Q.E.D.