Kickstarter Lesson #25: Reddit

29 March 2013 | 15 Comments

On the first day of Viticulture’s Kickstarter campaign last fall, I started noticing backers arriving from a website called Reddit. I hadn’t posted anything on Reddit–heck, I had never even visited the website (despite it being one of the most visited sites on the internet).

I couldn’t see exactly where on Reddit the backers were coming from, so I clicked over to the site and searched for “Viticulture.” Immediately I found this.

One of my first few backers, a stranger to me named Brian, had kindly created a forum on Reddit for my game. Apparently this is very common for Kickstarter games and projects. Reddit is essentially one giant, malleable forum on a million different topics. If you like a topic or comment, you can “upvote” it so more people can see it (or downvote it for the converse).

So I discovered this conversation that was happening about Viticulture on Reddit, and I joined in. You can look at the Reddit page to see my comments–I’m not trying to sell anything. I’m just trying to add to the conversation and fill in some missing details about the game.

That’s really what Reddit is about for us Kickstarter creators. It’s not there for self promotion. It’s there for you to add value to a conversation about your project (or about other projects in the same wheelhouse). And as you can see from this example–and even moreso from Dungeon Roll, a project that attracted over 500 backers from Reddit–

I recently reached out to Brian (the person who created the Viticulture forum on Reddit) to get his perspective on how Kickstarter creators can make sure they get on Reddit. He outlined a few guidelines for doing so:

  1. Don’t ask anyone to create a post on Reddit for your project. In Brian’s words, “The biggest way for these kinds of social media interactions to fail or even backfire is a lack of credibility of the source, and if a post like that feels even a little bit like self-driven promotion, it’s often eaten alive.”
  2. Instead, hope that someone posts on your behalf. There’s a decent chance this might happen if you have a conversation-worthy project. If no one posts it, you can post your own project on Reddit, but do it for the purpose of conversation and insight, not sales.
  3. Be active on related threads on Reddit. If you’re a board game designer, drop in on Reddit from time to time to discuss games. Not your game, just games in general. Be a part of the conversation before you want to benefit from that conversation.
  4. Don’t game the system. Reddit looks down on users asking people to upvote. You can let people know your project is on Reddit, but leave it up to the people to decide if what you’ve posted is upvote-worthy.
  5. Midway through your project, do an IAmA. An IAmA (also called AMA, or Ask Me Anything) is a way for people to ask you any question and expect to get an honest answer. Your Kickstarter backers know you as the project creator, but they don’t know you as a person. Maybe only a small percentage of backers will want to dig deep into your personal life, but the connection you forge with that small percentage could go a long way. Just be ready to answer any question.

The final element I want to mention about Reddit–specifically for board game Kickstarter creators–are the informative parameters that often find their way onto the top of a board game forum. Your project is going to get more positive attention if you’ve fulfilled all of these categories, as indicated by the Xs in the boxes on the left:

[X] Game reasonably priced

[X] Development appears complete; finished product presented

[X] Full rules provided

[X] Examples of substantial gameplay

[X] Basic pledge level gets you the full game

[X] Production plans detailed or established producer involved

[X] Evidence of thorough playtesting

[X] Unbiased third-party reviews

This isn’t just a good metric for Reddit users; it’s a good metric for you as you prepare to launch your Kickstarter campaign. If you can’t check off all of these boxes (or if you haven’t clearly communicated that on your Kickstarter page), you might want to wait to launch your project.

Brian, thanks so much for your input. I’m definitely still a Reddit novice, so if readers have anything to add, feel free to comment.

Next: Paid Advertising and How Backers Find Your Project

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15 Comments on “Kickstarter Lesson #25: Reddit

  1. Rogue: Thanks for your question. Reddit continues to puzzle me as well! It can generate an incredible amount of conversation and traffic, but, as you mention, it’s greatly frowned upon if you start the conversation there.

    I think your method of simply being a part of the conversation there is a good start. I wonder if you would be able to mention that you have a game about animal protection without coming across as self-promotional. Like, mention that you’re working on a game about animal protection, but don’t make the focus of your comment or question about you. I’ve seen plenty of threads where someone says something like, “I’m working on a game about X. What’s your favorite game about X and what do you love about it?”

  2. Reddit is the most puzzling conglomerate of communities I have ever come across… my game has a fairly unique theme that raises strong interest in people with animal protection and conservation close to heart.

    At every trade show I attend I always get very emotional moments from such people and have thoughts many times to promote the existence of the game to such communities and Reddit always spring to mind as the best way to do so, but every time I look at it, I have no idea how to approach that community without automatically being seen as self-promoting.

    clearly, I can spend some time there, within that community, conservationism is an interest of mine after all, but I really can’t imagine how you can raise awareness of your project without at some point turning the conservation into a sales pitch?

    1. @Viktor: That one always seemed odd to me. The only way I’ve found I can really “prove” that people have playtested is to have playtesters take photos of themselves playtesting the game, and then I create a montage of those photos on my project page.

  3. I know I’m a year or two late, but I actually found this blog through /r/boardgames, the sub-forum for boardgaming.

    Reddit can be a very fickle beast, if you ever want to see PR go wrong just have a quick browse of /r/amadisasters! Users can be extremely negative, and often confuse cynicism with intelligence. I’ve been using various parts of the site for about three years, so I feel relatively qualified to talk about it.

    Firstly, each sub forum has its own culture. /r/gameofthrones, for example, focusses on the TV show, and actively dissuades discussion about the books. /r/asoiaf (A Song of Ice and Fire) however, openly discusses the books in relation to the show.

    In general you want to avoid self-promotion, be honest and answer questions openly. People seem obsessed with ‘gotcha’ journalism, so they’ll ask extremely loaded questions. It’s up to you to be able to re-frame the conversation. I thought your responses in the linked thread were fantastic. Please be aware of the limitations of the platform though, writing “@Kweee” won’t alert that user that you’ve responded to them. For a user to get an alert that they’ve been responded to you’d either need to respond directly to their comment, or use their full username “/u/Kweee”. As far as /r/boardgames, if you are a game designer (such as yourself) you can message the mods and get ‘flair’ next to your username, just small text such as ‘creator of Viticulture’, this helps with your credibility within the community.

    1. itchypine: Thanks for your comment. I appreciate your perspective as an active user of Reddit, as I’ve largely stayed away from it over the last 2 years (though I can’t deny its value). It’s helpful to know about how to tag other users and get the “flair” you mention. Thanks!

  4. Okay, I’m a little late to this post but I’m taking my time going through each and every one of your KS lessons and feel like I should be paying for this information, seriously, I can’t express how thankful I am for such an amazing wealth of information here.

    I have never really heard of Reddit until you mentioned it, and this is very enlightening to know about. I had only read the first section and I was thinking to myself “I need to post a link about my game on Reddit”, until I read the middle section. You are so right about being careful not to self promote your game too much, people seem to get aggravated when this happens. I’m not sure why? It doesn’t aggravate me, but to each their own. So I will “hope” someone posts my game on there when I get ready to launch, and I’ll try to get involved with general gaming discussions on there in the mean time. Normally, I wouldn’t waste my time with a mass site of many different topics such as Reddit, but since you’ve mentioned a large amount of backers have originated from this site on various projects (including yours), I’ll definitely want to pay attention to it!

  5. Is showing the finished product really necessary? I mean, one of the things I used my kickstarter money for was paying the artist to do all the art. I got enough to show what we were going for, and was totally up front about that, and nobody complained.

    1. Thomas: I agree with you. Those checkboxes aren’t my opinion–they’re how Reddit users will judge your project. I think the best you can do is show a few examples of a polished product with some art.

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