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Researchers reveal phrases that pay on Kickstarter

Wed, 01/15/2014 - 7:43am

Researchers at Georgia Institute of Technology (Georgia Tech) studying the burgeoning phenomenon of crowdfunding have learned that the language used in online fundraising hold surprisingly predictive power about the success of such campaigns. 

“Our research revealed that the phrases used in successful Kickstarter campaigns exhibited general persuasion principles,” said Gilbert, who runs the Comp. Social Lab at Georgia Tech. “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.” 

While offering donors a gift may improve a campaign’s success, the study found the language project creators used to express the reward made the difference. For example, the phrases “also receive two,” “has pledged” and “project will be” strongly foretell that a project will reach funding status, while phrases such as “dressed up,” “not been able” and “trusting” are attached to unfunded projects. 

The researchers examined the success of Pebble, which is the most successful Kickstarter campaign to date with more than $10 million in pledges, and compared it to Ninja Baseball, a well-publicized PC game that only earned a third of its $10,000 goal. 

“The discrepancy in funding success between projects like Pebble and Ninja Baseball prompted us to consider why some projects meet funding goals and others do not,” Mitra said. “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.” 

For their research, Gilbert and Mitra assembled a list of all Kickstarter projects launched as of June 2, 2012, and had reached their last date of fund collection. Of the more than 45,000 projects, 51.53% were successfully funded while 48.47% were not. 

After controlling for variables such as funding goals, video, social media connections, categories and pledge levels, the researchers focused on more than 20,000 phrases before compiling a dictionary of more than 100 phrases with predictive powers of success or failure. 

The research suggested that the language used by creators to pitch their project plays a major role in driving the project’s success, accounting for 58.56% of the variance around success. The language generally fit into the following categories: reciprocity, scarcity, social proof, social identity, liking and authority.

Source: Georgia Institute of Technology

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