13 November 2017
Leo at Mythic Games has cracked the code on Kickstarter Live.
One year ago, Kickstarter announced a new featured on their website: At any time during a live campaign, you can launch a streaming video of yourself that appears as the first thing people see on the project page. People can comment on the stream, and whenever a new backer pledges, their avatar pops up on the screen for a few seconds.
I’ve been keeping an eye on how different creators have used the feature. While I’ve seen some cool stuff, I must admit that I never really understood how powerful of a tool it is until Friday. That’s when I got an e-mail from an alert reader about the use of Kickstarter live on the Joan of Arc campaign.
As soon as I read the message, I went over to the project page to discover (a) there were 3 minutes remaining on the campaign and (b) Leo, the communications director at Mythic Games, was currently hosting a live video.
Within about 30 seconds, it all clicked for me. I’ll describe why in a moment, but just to convey how powerful it was, within 20 seconds I went from admiring the success of the project but not being interested in the game to coming within inches of pledging the $120 required for the base game.
In the end, I didn’t make a pledge, but I was truly surprised by the impact of the live video. In particular, I was surprised that Kickstarter Live had the potential to attract new backers, not just engage existing backers.
Here’s why I think it worked so well for Joan of Arc and why it has the potential for your project:
- Leo hosted the live video for hours every night. This is a big commitment, but it makes a powerful statement for a creator to say, “I believe in this so much that I’m going to devote my undivided attention to this project.” It’s great to see active creators in their project comments–I tried to reply to comments within minutes during my projects. But live video is another level, and backers really seemed to respond to it on Joan of Arc. Now, how do you fill your time if your project is only getting a few backers an hour? That’s up to you, but I think it’s important to have a plan. Also, you don’t need to be there for hours, but spending an hour with your backers on live video once a day could have a big impact.
- Leo used live video primarily for engagement. Leo didn’t use live video as the primary way to share news or new information. Live video isn’t good for that because it’s transient (unless you have the time to watch hours of video later). Rather, Leo was literally just there to greet new backers by name, chat with existing backers, collaborate, and cheer on the project. His passion for the project was truly contagious in the way he expressed himself on the live video–he was very energetic, enigmatic, and positive.
- Leo acknowledged new backers by name. One of the most important KS Lessons I’ve written is about treating your backers as individuals, not numbers. It’s a powerful thing, to be acknowledged by name, especially in public. This is actually a big reason why I almost pledged to Joan of Arc without knowing anything else about the project. I wanted to feel included and acknowledged. This is a human thing, and I think it applies to projects big and small. If you ever backed a Stonemaier project, you might recall the toasts we filmed after each campaign ended, which was similar.
- Leo’s positivity helped the project overcome some hurdles. Joan of Arc wasn’t a perfect project. Like any Kickstarter campaign, they made some mistakes and had hurdles to overcome. But backers could count on Leo to be there every night to talk through it with them and to remain a positive force. Kickstarter is all about trust, and sometimes creators can seem so distant. Kickstarter Live changes that.
- Leo used the videos as a way to reach stretch goals. I mention this because I think stretch goals pair with live video as a motivation for attracting and engaging backers. Part of Leo’s unfettered enthusiasm was that every new backer meant another step towards the next stretch goal–even in the short time I watched the video, he said some version of “We’re really doing this! We’re going to reach the next goal!” at least a dozen times. It made me feel like my pledge could make a positive difference.
One thing that occurred to me when thinking about Leo’s use of Kickstarter Live is that you can’t attract new pledges via live video if potential backers don’t even know about the livestream. In this way, I think it’s important to share on social media when you’re live, in the hopes that the echoes of the internet will help those announcements reach newcomers.
However, it’s also a powerful tool just to do something compelling and awesome. That’s what made the reader reach out to me, and I’m pretty sure I saw others talking about the Joan of Arc videos on Facebook earlier in the project. I know for sure I saw someone talking about a live video on a recent TMG project (Downfall) about a month ago. Basically, if you do a great job with your live video, there’s a good chance some of your backers will talk about it elsewhere too.
The last question I pondered is: Can this be replicated without Kickstarter? Obviously that’s important to me since I don’t use Kickstarter anymore. There are other live-streaming options, but they’re missing the feature of having new “backers” pop up on the video. I think they’re still worth trying, though.
If you were a Joan of Arc backer, why do you think the live videos worked so well? Or if you’ve seen another project use Kickstarter Live to generate new backers and engage existing backers, what made it work?