13 October 2016 | 39 Comments
Have you ever backed a Kickstarter project because you saw a friend back it?
For a long time now, Kickstarter has let users “follow” each other (I think the requirement was if you were Facebook friends). It’s part of their discovery process: A friend backs a project, you get a notification, and maybe you back the same project. Until it gets annoying (at which point you can stop following that person), it’s a win-win for you, Kickstarter, and project creators.
Recently, Kickstarter expanded upon that premise by letting users follow creators, whether or not you’re Facebook friends with those creators. Here’s how they put it in their announcement last month:
“Starting today you can follow creators directly and be first to find out when their next projects launch. You’ll also be notified when they’ve backed a project that’s just getting off the ground.”
It’s an interesting development, because those two concepts are barely related. The first sentence is something I’ve been hoping Kickstarter would do for a long time: Make it easy for backers to know when a creator they like has launched a new project.
That makes sense–if you backed something from a creator once, there’s a pretty good chance you’ll want to know when they launch something new, and not every creator has an e-newsletter.
The second sentence is a completely different concept, though, as it’s an extension of the original idea of “following” other users. Except it operates under the idea that you’re likely to be interested in the same things that random creators are interested in.
That’s a bit of a stretch, in my opinion. It’s not a problem, as it’s predicated on you following the creator. But just because you want to know when a creator makes something new doesn’t mean you’re interested in when a creator backs something.
The latter will likely lead to a lot more notifications filling up your inbox, meaning you might even turn off those notifications, thus resulting in you missing out when the creator launches a new project.
Here’s my other concern: Will creators start using this system as a marketing tool in a way that is annoying to creators with lots of followers?
I ask that because, in truth, it is a powerful tool. If you can get an influential creator to back your project, within seconds thousands of people will know that your project exists. So what is to stop you from from messaging 5-10 influential creators and asking, begging, or paying them to back your project?
So far I’ve been pleased to see that very few creators have messaged me with such messages. I think that’s a good thing. Maybe people understand that just because I back something doesn’t mean I endorse it.
If you’re interested in following some creators of projects you’ve backed, click here. Overall I think it’s a pretty cool concept, and perhaps over time they’ll let users delineate between getting notifications when creators launch new projects versus notifications when creators back other projects.
I’m curious to hear what creators and backers think about this new addition. For creators, has it made you more hesitant to back projects since your personal decisions might have an impact on hundreds or thousands of other people? For backers who follow some creators, have you been influenced to back something you wouldn’t otherwise have known about?