You Decide: Should Kickstarter Test This Idea?

11 September 2017 | 15 Comments

I’ve come to believe that the most powerful alert on Kickstarter is the message you receive when someone you follow pledges to a project.

I didn’t always feel this way. In fact, when Kickstarter originally launched the option to follow creators and other backers, I was more worried about the implications than I was enthused by them.

But over time I’ve realized that I really like how the “follow” system works. I have complete control over whom I follow, and I’ve learned about a number of projects from the alerts received when those people back projects. (You can set this up on Kickstarter here.)

I also like that when I back a project, a lot of people (3,442 people, to be exact) receive a notification without me having to do any special sharing. I’ve backed over 230 projects on Kickstarter, and I genuinely want those projects to do well.

Because of this feature, we’re all endorsers. When you back a project, you are effectively endorsing it to all of your KS followers. In general, this is good, but I’ve there are certain situations where I wish I could specify exactly what I’m endorsing: The product, the project, the person, the company, etc. Sometimes I’m supporting one of those elements but not the others. I’m now much more hesitant to back a campaign if I don’t endorse ALL of those elements.

JR Honeycutt (newly crowned Kickstarter expert) shared a Kickstarter idea that really resonated with me. JR’s motivation is a bit more positive than mine: He wishes that he could share with his followers why he’s so enthusiastic about the projects he backs.

JR’s idea is that Kickstarter could add an optional text box on or immediately after the page where you back a project. In this text box, you could write why you backed the project. Maybe you love the product. Maybe you want to help a friend. Maybe you’re pledging $1 to follow along. Whatever the reason, you could write it in the text box (~200 character limit), and when Kickstarter sends the alert to your followers, they would see your message.

I absolutely love this idea. I would have easily backed another 20 or so projects in 2017 alone if I had the ability to tell those 3,442 followers my motivations. Even if you have fewer followers, perhaps you can relate: Imagine if all of your Facebook friends received an alert every time you bought anything. Wouldn’t this impact your buying behavior?

Of course, it’s inevitable that if this idea is implemented on Kickstarter, someone will abuse it. But if they do, it’ll be easily to report them to Kickstarter and/or simply unfollow them.

Overall, I believe that this would have a positive impact on Kickstarter. I’d love to know why people backed certain projects, and I’d love the ability to share my motivations when I make a pledge. I think this would lead to more pledges overall.

However, as much as I would love Kickstarter to test this idea, you may have very different opinions (or ambivalence). I’d love for you to weigh in on the poll below and/or in the comments.

Leave a Comment

15 Comments on “You Decide: Should Kickstarter Test This Idea?

  1. My original intent of following creators was to get notified when they created new projects. I didn’t even realize that I would get notified about projects they backed as well. I have found that feature useful to learn about projects that I might otherwise not have discovered, but I don’t consider a creator backing a project to be an endorsement. I still look at those projects just like I would any other to see if I personally would enjoy them.

    In addition to having an option to tell followers why one was backing a project, I also agree with others who think there should be an option to not notify followers at all. As much as I like finding out about other projects from people I follow, I would rather not have this come at the expense of someone feeling uncomfortable about backing a project because he or she couldn’t do so in private.

    It would also be nice for followers to have the option to only get notified when creators start new projects. This would be helpful not just for followers, but also creators, as I imagine there are some people who want to get notified when a new project is created, but aren’t following the creator because they don’t like the other notifications.

  2. Jamey,

    It’s an interesting question. I, myself, have backed a number of projects simply to show some level of support as I may not want a copy of a particular game (or other item), but I’m intrigued by their level of passion; the overall tenor of the campaign; or myriad other things which captivated me. Having said that, when I get a notification that someone has backed a project (and you’re among them), I certainly look at projects backed by others, but it by no means guarantees that our interests converge perfectly. On average, I’ve backed a project, backed by someone else I follow approximately 5% of the time. I would, however, love the opportunity to provide a bit more fidelity into why I chose to lend support.


  3. Like this idea a lot – and also the option of turning notifications off for a specific project.

    At the moment, I tend to post on Twitter and/or Facebook about projects that I’m backing that I’m particularly enthusiastic and why, but I set a reasonably high threshold for that to avoid diluting the impact, and because some of my facebook friends will have limited interest in kickstarter projects. Whereas anyone who follows what I back on Kickstarter is going to have at least some interest.

  4. I look at, and sometimes back, projects that are backed by other creators as well as friends. If a designer or publisher backs another company’s game I assume it’s a pretty good game or it’s a friend in the industry and they want to show their support.
    More often than not I’m just using their interest as a filter for what I should look at on Kickstarter, not as a reason to back something. Having the explanation text would be helpful, but not absolutely necessary.

    I like the idea of turning of notification to everyone on certain projects that was already mentioned in the comments.
    I also like the idea of being able to control which categories you get notifications for. My friend who backs these knitting related projects are great for her, but I don’t need an email/push notification about it.

    These kinds of things could potentially really amplify how people are using these things and how useful they are to people.

  5. I became aware of Supervillain: This Galaxy Is Mine because you backed it. I then chose to back it because I liked the artwork, concept, and price. Then I read some of the initial comments and found it interesting that several backers mentioned that they too came to the project because you had backed it. It not only made me realize the clout that you hold, but got me thinking as to why you backed it. I wondered if you personally knew the creator, if you liked the artwork, or felt like acquiring a new card game. It would be extremely helpful to backers and followers to know the motivation behind someone’s pledge. It would also be helpful to future creators so they can learn if there are certain elements or aspects of a game that draws in a large number of backers.

    1. Eric: That’s a good example. I do know the creator–he’s one of our Russian localization partners. He’s been so supportive of us that his project was an insta-back for me, just out of sheer gratitude (and the belief that they make quality games). I would have loved the ability to share that with the people who follow me on Kickstarter! :)

  6. I really like the idea- and would definitely use those thoughts to help me understand what makes that project stand out to them. It may cause me to back it may not. But with 500+ active board game KS alone at any given time. Great projects can always use every bit of advertising they can to stand out and succeed

  7. I agree that this would be a great idea. I might actually start paying more attention to those emails if I knew why the person backed e project.

  8. I use it to know what NOT to back… If I have a friend backing it, then no need for me to!! But usually if a creator I’m following backs something I’ll click on the link and give the project a deeper look. Haven’t backed anything because of it yet, but maybe someday!!

  9. I love the idea. The abuser will just reveal themselves, and get unfollowed. So I don’t see a downside to it. It’s like a mini-twitter.

      1. That would be great too. I have a friend who is always “nagging” me about my addiction to Kickstarter when I’m getting a bunch of games that all drop at the same time or else I’m getting a bunch for my friends and family.

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