By building a solid community before launching your campaign, you massively increase your chance of success. We didn't do a very good job at systematizing our own network and create a community - so this is a post about what we would do differently, if we could do it over
Two month before our OPLØFT-campaign should launch on Kickstarter our organized network was close to non-existing.
OPLØFT was our first consumer product, so apart from a small Lolle & Nielsen Inventions-page on LinkedIn, we had no community on any social media. The few websites we owned didn't have any notable traffic and our mailing list was an improvised one we send sporadic news.
The very limited reach combined with a less-than-well-organized network became a big concern as the campaign came closer - and the SoMe-guy who should help our campaign succeed didn't ease our worries.
But before moving on to what we did - and more importantly what we should have done - first a little bit about why building a community before launch is so crucial to the campaign.
Why you need a community before launch: The 30% rule
A widespread rule of thumb in crowdfunding is, that if you reach 30% in the first day, you're very likely to reach your 100%. Meaning it's a great idea to have enough friends and fools behind your project to ensure the first 30% early on.
There's a few suggestions to why, this rule applies:
- With 30% funded, the project is validated. There's always a risk involved in backing a crowfunding-project (delays, getting a sub-par product - or never getting a product), and for that reason nobody wants to be the first to pledge. Having 30% funded helps overcoming that hurdle - it builds trust in the project and team.
- Kickstarter likes success. If you quickly get some dollars under your belt, you're more likely to be a "Trending" project, "Projects We Love" or even "Project of the Day". This means you will get a boost in traffic to your campaign from inside the Kickstarter platform - instead of being forgotten on page 20 in your category. And potential buyers looking at your campaign is key, right?
- Everyone likes success! And early success gives your project momentum. Everything you do is just easier, when your project is trending toward a success story: It's more fun to talk about and share a successful project on social media, the press is more likely to pick up your story and it also makes those long working days more fun for the team, when it looks like your hard work is going to pay off.
FACTS: CORRELATION BETWEEN PRE-COMMITED FUNDS AND SUCCESS:
Statistics from the crowdfunding platform Seedrs suggests a correlation between pre-commited funds and odds of getting your projects backed:
- Projects starting with no pre-funding has a 15% chance of success
- Projects with 5% funding at launch has 50% chance of success
- Projects with 10% funding at launch has 70% chance of success
- Projects with 20% funding at launch has a 80% chance of success
- Every project with 35% funding at launch succeeded
NB! Seedrs is an equity based crowdfunding platform where pre-commited funding works differently - Kickstarter is reward based. But the findings should give an idea about the importance of early backers.
The bottomline: It's really important to figure out a way to get those 30% quickly, and this is where your network or community comes in handy.
What we did...
After months of testing, showcasing and talking with friends and foes about OPLØFT, we had a good feeling that people both wanted OPLØFT and knew we were making it. But we didn't do a very good job a organizing the people we meet.
After learning the importance of the 30% rule, we realized we had to put some work into organizing. The time we had was limited but we did a few things right away:
- Advertising for the campaign-launch on our OPLØFT-website. Every bit of the limited traffic the site got was a potential lead - but we needed to inform the visitors when and how they could buy it.
- Focusing on social media: Creating a page on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. I guess this doesn't need a lot of explaining, but by inviting people we already knew, we could start posting news and content around OPLØFT, so they would be informed and ready for the Kickstarter - and even get us some feedback before launch.
- Ultra Early Birds: Knowing we most likely wasn't able to build a community fast enough, we decided to give our followers a strong incitement to become early backers by making a very limited but extra lucrative "Ultra Early Bird"-tier (save $150 on the OPLØFT). This would be a bonus perk for our followers and subscribers - and would get us roughly 10% of the goal.
...And what you should do better
We started organizing too late, so most people in our network wouldn't get a notification when our campaign went online. That's just dumb. So here's a few things we should have done:
- Start way earlier: After the initial tests we should have started building our community. Time is crucial, and 6 months are way better than 2 months! Even without a finished product you should start making people aware of your existence.
- Social Media: If you're not already there (we weren't), you would most likely want to use social media in some way. Choose wisely so you spend your time and money on the platforms that make sense for you - don't just use every platform "because you should".
- E-mails are gold: Compile a list of people you know and ad them to your newsletter-list. Make a sign-up form available on your website from day one and convince people you meet in your endeavors to subscribe. Reaching out to potential backers by emails is more effective and personal than a post on Facebook most of you "Fans" never see. Our Danish colleagues over at Soundboks had several thousand people on their mailing list when they launched their campaign - and that went pretty well.
- Ask for help: After the initial steps, you should start involving your followers in the project. Ask them to spread the word, help you make a design-decision or take a peek at your campaign before launch - when people get involved in the project it evolves from an organized network to a community.
- Utilize your existing reach: With a little SEO, some Kickstarter-advertising and a signup-form, we could have gotten much more value from our existing website - www.oploft.com.
Network or community?
We've realized it's hard to create a lively community around a table. It solves a real problem, but it's not a high engagement thing. So a final point you should consider is, if you should really aim for a community - or simply an organized network.
If you're Kickstarting a high engagement product - e.g. a videogame where stuff like alpha-testing, showing of characters or concept art would be able to catch some hardcore fans early on - you might be in a better spot for creating a community.
No matter the project you should consider how you can use and expand your network. By building a well organized network - in best case a community - you set your campaign up for success.
About the series: We knew very little about crowdfunding, when we decided to crowdfund our height-adjustable desk OPLØFT in the beginning of 2016. The experience was intense, but in the end we got the $60.000 we needed to start production. The journey has taught us a great deal, and in this series we want to share our insights, do's and don'ts, so you can learn from our mistakes.
This was part 3 of our Crowdfunding Tips. You can find the rest of the series here: