Kickstarter Lesson #176: How to Maximize the New “Community” Tab

25 February 2016 | 13 Comments

Last week, Kickstarter announced that they had added a new tab to every project page: the Community tab.

That spirit of community and global demonstration of generosity is something we wanted to celebrate. So we created the Community Tab: a new way to put the people who make projects possible front and center.

I appreciate that sentiment, as I’m always looking for ways to treat backers as individuals, not numbers. But is the Community tab actually useful for creators or backers? Let’s dig into the three aspects of it (the following examples are from Scythe).

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I think this data is interesting but not actionable for creators. That is, there’s very little you can actually do with this information.

It certainly doesn’t hurt to know where your backers are located. At best, if you happen to live in one of those cities, you could do something special for those specific backers (e.g., host a happy hour). But even then you’d have to wait until backers have filled out their surveys to reach out to a specific sector of backers.

For backers, I can see this giving them a sense of camaraderie with other backers. However, it’s almost tantalizingly too little information. You only get to see the top 10 cities and countries, and you can’t click on those cities to see the other backers there. It’s so close to having the potential to truly connect people.

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This is perhaps the most intriguing addition to me, because previously this information was very difficult to obtain. Again, it’s not actionable, but it’s neat to know that your project brought people to Kickstarter for the first time, which hopefully helps the entire ecosystem.

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Last is a section that lets you put faces to names of other backers (if they use their face for their profile picture). I like this on an emotional level; as I mentioned before, I want to look at backers as individuals, not some big number that magically grows every day. It’s easy to get caught up in that number and forget that there are actual human beings behind every pledge.

As for backers, I don’t think there’s much utility here. The backers who actively participate in projects are going to connect with each other in the comments, not by looking at this part of the Community tab (which is randomly generated and doesn’t let you click through to each backer’s profile).

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I really don’t mean to be down on the Community tab–in fact, this post wasn’t intended as a review of the tab. I was hoping that I find some actionable utility for each part of it, but I’ve failed you. Perhaps you have some ideas I’ve overlooked.

My final thoughts are that the Community tab doesn’t hurt, and on a small psychological level, it’s fine. But if Kickstarter’s developers have enough time to spend on something like this, I really wish they’d spend that time on things creators have actively been asking for. Here are a few examples.

What do you think?

13 Comments on “Kickstarter Lesson #176: How to Maximize the New “Community” Tab

  1. Replacing the Comments section with a micro-forum (even of the level BGG has in it’s guilds) would have lived up to the title of ‘community’ more…

  2. I got that on one of the final days of my campaign (Scuba) , and I found it really interesting to see a breakdown of countries to quickly estimate how many games to ship to which hub. But for that to work it should also give all countries instead of just the top 10, and have the option to excluse €1 level backers and Essen/local pick-ups. But it’s something, they had to start somewhere..

  3. I think this feature debuted the day after we launched our campaign and I was quite interested in it at the time. However, I agree with you. My initial assessment determined that there was not much in the way of actionable information available.

    Still, I think it is a step in the right direction and I am excited to see where they go with this in the future.

  4. I visited your link with the other features. I agree that several of those would be extremely helpful for campaigns. My favorites being the surveys and the stretch goals. It’s like when a new campus wait to put In sidewalks until people have walked paths into the ground. Features like those in your list have become a standard part of the kickstarter experience. It’s for Kickstarter to roll those features in before another competitor beats them with a better platform.

  5. I wouldn’t feel bad that your comments ended up being a little bit critical. You weren’t harsh, just matter-of-fact. And all of this–good, bad, or indifferent–are important considerations. Thanks for sharing these evaluations.

  6. It was the universal response: “Oh cool, a COMMUNITY tab!?” “…oh wait, there is nothing here.” – I looked at it once, realized there’s nothing that helps me as a creator, or you as a backer leaving the whole thing without any community-building value, and walked away.

  7. Well, here’s some thoughts:

    -Breaking manufacturing down to pieces. If more than 3 countries with different languages are >=1000, you could decide about the varieties of language versions to manufacture.

    -Breaking shipping down to pieces. One warehouse per country, or one in every continent may reduce the shipping and/or VAT costs.

    -Deciding visits to Game Conventions. There must be at least one in USA, one in Canada, one in England, one in Germany etc. if my game has 2000 backers from e.g. Spain, shouldn’t I consider visiting a Spanish game gathering?

    -Offering bulk buys. Well, that’s more of a retailers’ thing.

    -Contacting more or less retailers from specific countries. Because nobody wants to have a warehouse full of unsold games and in the end offer them at 60% or 1+1 ..

    -Establish a solid cooperation with certain people. Be it FLGSs or anything. Panda is not the only thing that matters, it is just cheaper.

    Or, I am just a romantic fool.

  8. Jamey,

    It’s a start…for instance, I’ve checked out the names of Backers from various projects, including Scythe, and then found them over at BGG…the great thing about gamers is they tend to stick to a certain pseudonym or their actual name. from there, I reached out to them if we shared a specific game/passion. I’m always pleased to back a project only to find people I “know” from other projects out there on the Comments section. It’s like running into friends at a party.

    Anyway, good for KS to move in this direction, but for now it’s in its embryonic state…more to come, no doubt.

    Cheers,
    Joe

  9. “I think this data is interesting but not actionable for creators. That is, there’s very little you can actually do with this information.”

    That’s not true. This feature appeared halfway through the Villages of Valeria campaign, and the creators were stunned to find that a full 50% of their backers were from Europe. Their shipment plan was to ship from manufacturing in China to USA, then ship from there to backers, because their assumption was that all their backers would be from USA. They were able to change their shipment plan to now ship half directly to a European fulfilment. The sooner you know this detail, the better, especially if it can influence shipment times or prices for backers.

  10. Rich: Thanks for sharing that example. With only the top 10 countries listed on that page, how were they able to make the 50% calculation? It still seems like you’d actually need the backer survey data to make an informed decision, but you’re right that knowing early about trends can help you make adjustments like that on the fly (though I have no idea why they weren’t shipping directly to Europe in the first place–there’s no reason to pay customs twice if you’re offering EU-friendly shipping).

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