Kickstarter Lesson #135: Why We Share

25 January 2015 | 23 Comments

I was sitting on an airplane today waiting for takeoff. We were about to leave the gate, so we knew we only had a minute or two remaining of cell phone use.

I used that time to check my e-mail once more, then switched my phone over to airplane mode. As I did, I glanced across the aisle at a fellow passenger who was using that last minute of cell phone time to…scroll through his Facebook feed.

pumpkinflavor-all-the-thingsThe man was in his 50s or 60s. I’m 34. Despite the age gap, the man’s Facebook feed looked just like mine–it was full of memes.

I’m fascinated by what people share online and why they share it. Memes, viral videos, random quotes, personal stories, the Serial podcast, and, of course, crowdfunding campaigns.

What compels people to do more than just “like” or “favorite” something, or more than even comment something? What inspires people to actually share it? And how can Kickstarter creators create content people want to share?

I have three separate theories and one combined master theory:

  1. “You are what you share.” –Seth Godin: Online and offline, we share things that define the way we want other people to perceive us. We want to be seen as funny or clever or compassionate, so we post or well-written articles or videos of dogs greeting their owners after long trips. The things I share reflect the person I want to be.
  2. “People don’t share commercials; they share emotions.” –Scott Stratten: When content gives us permission to feel strongly about something–as inconsequential as it may be–we share it or we use that content to express our feelings. The focus is on strong emotions. We share extremes–the best pizza, the funniest video, the cutest kitten, the most popular project.
  3. People like to help other people. Mostly this is altruistic. It’s a philosophy I often talk about on this blog–making it about them, not you. But I think this is still closely connected to #1 above–when we help others through content we share, we position ourselves as someone who is helpful, and that feels good.

How do those theories combine? Here’s my answer for why we share:

“I want to talk about this.”

We share things because we want to talk about them. Sometimes that means we want to actually converse with people, to discuss whether the new lightsaber makes any sense. Sometimes it means we’re creating a platform for us to talk to other people (not with them)–it’s a grandstand, and we’re looking for agreement. Other times, we’re looking to incite–we’re looking for disagreement and debate.

How does this apply to Kickstarter creators? If you want people to share your project, don’t just leave it to the “share” button on Kickstarter. Create images that people want to talk about because they make that people look and feel awesome, clever, or funny. Share those images in project updates and on social media.

I must admit that this is uncharted territory for me. I’ve shared plenty of images in project updates, but I haven’t geared any of them towards social sharing. I’ve also shared screenshots of certain milestones in projects, accompanying them with statements about my emotions and gratitude, but again, that’s more about me than other people, and people have responded accordingly (liked, not shared).

So this is a work in progress. I’ll try out this new method on our upcoming Between Two Cities campaign and we’ll see how it goes.

In the meantime, I’d love to hear your thoughts. When and why do you share crowdfunding campaigns or associated images/posts? What compels you to share?

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23 Comments on “Kickstarter Lesson #135: Why We Share

  1. I share (on FB, at least) so I can look back at a kind of online journal. My dear sweet girlfriend shares mostly to encourage people not to make excuses about being healthy and brag about how awesome we are. I suppose I enjoy some of that too. This is aside from the point of your article, but I get real use out of posting with a location tag of where I am GOING to be – FB sends that creepy “people near you” message and I end up linking up with far away friends. Everything else is a “thinking of you” repost right from Reddit.

  2. We so desperately want to be a part of something that I think that’s where the need broadly comes from. But I myself rarely share things, because frankly I don’t feel like I see that much on FB that means a lot to me.

    But when it comes to my KS project, I would love to have people share it! So how do we create truly meaningful content that inspires conversation and a need to share? That is the question!

    I think that if you could provide content that is unique to your project, either an idea or some mechanic that you explain or give context to. Help draw people in and create a conversation with them. Help them understand something new or see something in a new light.

    And that all sounds great, but how to do it as it relates to your KS project? Hmmmmmm

    1. Dave: You’re asking the same questions I did! :) I think you’ve partially answered it here (as I did): Post content that people want to talk about. Some people will talk about it on Kickstarter, but others will share it elsewhere because they want to continue the conversation with friends.

  3. There are 3 reasons why I share/RT:

    1. What I’m sharing applies to a specific person I know. This helps our relationship because it shows I think of them and remember what we talk about.

    2. What I’m sharing is a piece of positivity that helps promote positivity either for my own benefit or to anyone reading what I’m sharing.

    3. I share if I feel a need to help someone else out. I share your blog at times along with The League of Game Makers blog just to help out the blogs.

    1. Royce: Thanks for sharing your list of why you share and RT. I especially like the first one. You’re essentially saying to the person, “This made me think of you.” It’s like texting your girlfriend in the middle of the day just to let her know she’s on your mind. It makes the other person feel good.

  4. Humans for the most part are social beings. We want to feel a part of a community. This is why social networks like Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram are so popular. We want to feel a part of something bigger than us. Being able to share things that are of interest to us helps us participate in our social groups and perhaps enlarge them. How I think Kickstarter projects can utilize that is through pictures and videos that capture the essence of the game. Videos that are humorous or tell a story will often be shared outside the normal fans of the games because the video is interesting on its own. That does mean these videos need to be posted in a location they can be shared. Too often, Kickstarter projects have these great videos introducing the game or in updates but they don’t post them on youtube or other social networks. The Kickstarter imbedded videos are only accessible through the Kickstarter website itself thus limiting the ability to share them. I would encourage posting these videos to Kickstarter and to Youtube, Facebook, and Twitter.

  5. I think Scythe is the perfect example for this.

    Each and every time I saw a picture about it, it was awesome.
    And even if I know almost nothing of the game (yet), I clicked the Share button on FB each time I saw a picture (hell, I even liked the artist page to not miss one, which is something I never did before for a drawing artist. I’m absolutely not into that kind of stuff)

    1. khoral: I’m glad the Scythe art has that impact on you! Jakub does get a LOT of shares on his art. I wonder if part of it (for Scythe and other things) is that when we get giddy with excitement, simply “liking” it isn’t enough. We can’t contain it, and we have to share the awesomeness with others. Perhaps?

      1. I can only answer for myself, obviously, but when I share something Scythe related, it’s to get some Scythe hype over my friends.
        Usually, if I like the picture, I’ll only use the Like feature, not the Share one.

        But yes, sometimes you want to Share things because you think it’s beautiful/funny/something out of the ordinary, and you want to share it with your friends so they can have a laugh, feel, or just discover a new thing.

  6. Well said.
    We like to share what puts us in a better light.
    In some respect it is hard to talk about us all, though it makes sense to perceive a human action as driven by the person’s desires. Even if it is sharing things of a marketing nature.
    We are all a ‘unit’ thus even in helping others we act in our best interest.

    I would like to believe it is otherwise. Though if you think about an action even the most altruistic one you will see that it was driven by a selfish desire. To make a better place for living is from the makers perspective selfish, which doesn’t imply it is bad.

    Anyway enough of this high school psychology :)

    Certainly I agree with the number 2… in majority actions of people are driven by emotions.

    All the Best

    1. Konrad: I think some of the concepts in the post are subconscious. When you share a link, you’re not actively thinking, “People are going to think I’m so smart!” You’re probably thinking, “They’ll find this helpful.” What’s interesting to me is that we all read lots of things that are helpful, funny, clever, heartwarming, etc every day, but we only share a very small percentage of that content. I’m trying to figure out why that is.

      1. Jamey: It always has to be something that we can relate to and yea it has to be exceptional in some sense either worst or best. I am also very much interested in knowing what makes people share.

        I think that when a creator makes a new thing, even a game, he/she needs to ‘convince’ the public that they need the product, for whatever reason it might be, i.e. improvement of experience of games (which is what the chest did), better than previous games or simply more fun (which is what Scythe will do) :)

        All the Best.

  7. Lists and quizzes related to your product are great advertisements because they feel like secret compartmentalized information… like we’ve discovered something either about ourselves or that not many people in our circles know about. Your blog posts are that to me, so I share them with people in hopes they learn something, not just what you have to say but also what I want them to know about me.

    If I were your marketing agent, I would have suggested you rewrite this title to say “3 Reasons Why We Share Online (#2 Will Restore Your Faith in Humanity)” because that makes me feel like there’s a secret I don’t know about.

    1. Daniel: Well done with the title rewrite! I’ve found that people are drawn to lists, so that probably would have been a more effective title. :)

      I like the idea of quizzes too. I wonder if a flowchart “quiz” would be an effective tool for sharing.

  8. It’s very rare that I share things on social media, but when I do it’s usually because I’m trying to win a game in a giveaway contest. I figure if I put up with all of my friends’ posts about their pets, kids, or essential oils, they can deal with me spamming their walls with game giveaways.

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