Kickstarter Lesson #144: How to Maximize the New “Spotlight” Feature

25 March 2015 | 13 Comments

Earlier this week I received an intriguing e-mail from Kickstarter about their newest feature, Spotlight:

We’re introducing an exciting evolution for successfully funded projects — one that lets you tell your whole story, from concept to reality, and showcase everything you’ve accomplished along the way. Meet the new spotlight page:

New tools make it easy to customize the look and feel of your page, share news, and put the focus on everything you’re making and doing. Even that big green “Back This Project” button is all yours now: add a link and you can send visitors to experience your creation for themselves.

Ready to set up yours? Just log in, click on any successfully funded project, and get started. On March 25, all successfully funded Kickstarter projects will switch over to spotlight view — so the first thing every visitor sees will be the story of your project coming to life.

spotlight-576007_640This is really cool. It’s a formal way of Kickstarter acknowledging that their site is a place where ideas can grow from one-time rewards into products and businesses. Instead of being a static page, frozen in time from the moment your project ends, it’s a living entity, an invitation to for newcomers to learn more.

Before, when time ran out on your campaign, you could no longer change any element of the project page. Now there are several things you can change:

  • background image
  • project name
  • project “pitch” description
  • button text, color, and link
  • feature image

Some of these are more important than others. For example, I use a 3D mockup for feature images on my projects because I don’t have a photo of the finished game at that point. When the final game is ready, a photo of the box (or the game on the table) is a much better representation of the game than the 3D mockup. Now I can change it at any time.

The most important element you can change is the button that says “Back This Project” during the campaign. In the past, that button disappeared after a campaign ended because it served no function. Now the button is back (if you want it, and you definitely do), and you have full editing power over it. I changed my older campaign buttons to say “Buy” and linked them to each respective Buy page on my website. For the more recent Between Two Cities, I changed the button to say “Pre-Order Now,” and it also links to my website.

If you’re not selling your product or accepting rewards, you can have the button go to your Facebook page or e-newsletter signup–it can really go anywhere.

There are a few other important changes. When someone now goes to your successfully funded, expired project page now (here’s a link to Between Two Cities as an example), the focus is no longer on the backer count and funding total–they’re near the top of the page, but they’re much smaller.

Much more prominently featured are your project updates. That’s the default landing page (not the body text of the project page). This means two things for creators:

  1. Headlines are more important than ever before. When someone scrolls down the update timeline, they’re most likely to just look at the headlines. Keep this in mind when writing project updates, as the headlines will tell a story over time if you use them effectively. For example, instead of writing vague headlines or those that only make sense with context like, “A Few Things” or “The Cat’s in the Cradle!”, write something like, “New Box Art and a Rules Explanation Video” or “You Did It: Everything Will Be Made of Adamantium!”
  2. Backer-only updates are even worse than before. As I write about in detail here, backer-only project updates are generally a bad idea. Now they’re even more visible and more unwelcoming because of their presence on the landing page forever.

There’s still a lot to learn and discover about the Spotlight feature. I’m excited to how other creators use it on their projects. If you have any ideas, let me know in the comments!

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13 Comments on “Kickstarter Lesson #144: How to Maximize the New “Spotlight” Feature

  1. I noticed your Pre-Order link on Between Two Cities and thought the narcotics were playing tricks on me (seriously). Given that project creators can’t use these changes in “sneaky” ways to go back on promises to backers, changing project text, this is a great change from KS. I’m glad to see you maximizing it right away (and also I am not surprised). :-)

    Now I just wish Kickstarter would go BACK to the old way of showing the Story/Updates/Comments as static tabs instead of infuriating “chase me” pop-up things, and also that they would go back to the old search. WTF is “magic” anyway? I just want to look at new tabletop game projects, and ones about to close, and there is no easy way to do either of those things! I HATE the KS search now and sometimes actually use Google instead, but worry that I am missing stuff. :-(

    1. Julia: Yeah, I asked Kickstarter about tabs, as I wasn’t a fan (now I’m so-so on it). They said it increased the number of people who participate in the comments, so maybe it’s a good thing?

      As for the search, I find it hard to use as well. I’m grateful for the board game list on BGG. :)

  2. This change to KS suggests a change to BoardGameGeek.

    Currently, during a game’s KS, that game’s BGG page has a link to the KS. After the KS closes, the link is removed. At least, that’s the way it seems to work. I’d rather the link stayed.

    Now, with KS Spotlight, the case from keeping the BGG->KS link seems stronger. The KS page isn’t just for funding any more.

    Any thoughts?

  3. When I first heard about this a few days ago, I wasn’t sure about it, and my initial thought was that it could be more problematic than good. I hadn’t really checked it out and all the features, so I saw it as more of a way for project creators to go back and change project information in a way that might not be beneficial to backers (or anyone for that matter) who might come back to the page in the future, only to be confused as certain information would have been changed.

    However, after reading this post I feel a lot better about it. I really like the fact that you can change your feature image to an actual picture of your game once it’s produced, as that would certainly be more current. It’s really a smart idea and kind of turns your page into more of a social media type layout, with having the updates listed first. Great point too on writing headlines, I never really thought about the update headlines, but it certainly becomes something important for project creators to remember with the addition of this new feature.

    1. Mike: Thanks for sharing your thoughts. I was a little worried about that same thing, and I’m glad to see you can’t edit the actual project page–it’s good that it’s set in stone.

    2. I think that headlines and the first 5 words are what you should concentrate on anyway.

      One of my friends, who backed my game, mentioned this to me. He isn’t inclined to read the updates sent to his e-mail – only to read the headline – and if he, a friend, won’t read stuff fully, how can I expect anyone else to?

      Sadly, this is something I struggle with – I am somewhat verbose and have been guilty of leaving it too long between updates and then having more topics than can be easily summed up in a single headline.

      I think it’s certainly a good idea to have each update just be about a single main topic, perhaps with a secondary topic. Any additional topics should be treated as disposable fluff, much as that saddens me.

      1. Bez: I agree with your first statement, and I agree that the best updates are those that are focused on 1-3 topics. Though I think it’s fine to have a little fluff too, as some people will read it, especially if they see you having fun with it. :)

  4. Jamey,

    I’m excited about this feature! While our hobby-turned-business hasn’t reached the rarities air of Stonemaier Games, it’s great to both continue the dialogue with previous Backers who helped “fund” our dream, but initiate a conversation with others, who have become customers over the past few years.


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