Words are powerful, particularly on the Internet, and a pair of researchers from Georgia Tech say that they've identified the ones that can either push a Kickstarter campaign over the top or doom it to unsuccessful obscurity.
The research, performed by assistant professor Eric Gilbert and doctoral candidate Tanushree Mitra, was inspired by the success of well-known smartwatch project Pebble and the failure of Ninja Baseball, a video game that attracted some media buzz in 2011 but only raised $3,796 of its $10,000 goal.
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The analysis examined the language used in 45,000 Kickstarter projects, controlling for outside factors like social media and video. More than 100 phrases were found to have at least some predictive relevance for either successful or failed funding.
What’s more, there were distinct categories of successful Kickstarter phrase, according to Gilbert.
“For example, those campaigns that follow the concept of reciprocity – that is, offer a gift in return for a pledge – and the perceptions of social participation and authority, generated the greatest amount of funding,” he said in a statement.
Thus, phrases like “also receive two” tended to be strong predictors of success, as did forward-looking, socially active, and confident language like “your continued,” “mention your” and “we can afford.”
Mitra says that the rationales behind notably successful and unsuccessful language varied widely.
“We found that the driving factors in crowdfunding ranged from social participation to encouragement to gifts – all of which are distinguished by the language used in the project description,” she says.
Among the strongest predictors of unsuccessful Kickstarters were phrases like “trusting,” “not been able,” “even a dollar” and “a blank.” Negativity and a lack of confidence, apparently, are poison to a successful campaign.
Moreover, the researchers found, the effects of language on Kickstarter success were strong – Gilbert and Mitra estimate that more than 58% of the variability around success is due to linguistic factors.
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