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Crowd Campaigns

Updated at 2014-08-10 13:39

This note is about crowdfunding and public voting campaigns. Majority of the content is about Kickstarter and Steam Greenlight. Related to monetization.

Crowdfunding is about creating a community. You must get your backers actively involved or the project will lose its flame. Keep people updated and offer ways to contribute to the project e.g. by having a forum for discussion or site to review future features.

Pre-campaign

The most important thing is the promotional video. You need to make an impact and you make impact the best by a person telling their story and aim straight into the camera.

- Who are you?
- What is the project?
- Why does the project matter?
- What is the story behind the project?
- Where did you get the idea?
- What stage is it in now?
- How are you feeling about the project?
- Ask people for support and explain why you need it.
- Explain how you will spend the money.
- Discuss rewards.
- Explain what happens if you don't reach your goal. Everyone will be sad.
- Thank everyone.

Don't do the campaign if you don't have good video material. For example, you must have gameplay teasers for game campaigns. Even better if there is a playable demo for the campaign.

Get some quality music for the video.

https://soundcloud.com          # Search for free music but check license.
http://vimeo.com/musicstore     # Paid and free music but check license.
http://freemusicarchive.org     # Free music but check license.
http://www.ccmixter.org         # Free music but check license.

Include additional videos. Additional videos are good for people that want to learn more before contributing.

Use animated images when possible. GIFs work the best, especially if the campaign has an avatar like in Greenlight, use an animated GIF for that.

Round up as much potential backers as you can before starting. Call or meet them beforehand if possible. Write all possible backers down to an email list. Find friends that have used Kickstarter with Find Friends -action.

Offer a rewards for all types of backers. Create profiles for all backer types you want to target.

Customer:
    Want to back up the project so they get the product.
    E.g. any project with a real product.
Donor:
    Want to back up the cause, but don't want the product.
    E.g. donations to developing countries.
Admirer:
    Want to back up the person involved, but don't want the product.
    E.g. personal projects.
Fan:
    Want to back up the genre, but don't want the product.
    E.g. heavy metal, children's care, creative commons.
Involved:
    Want to get involved with the project, usually big backers
    that want to contribute to the project.
    E.g. a game where the big backers can design something in the game.

Only ask how much you need. On Kickstarter, don't ask how much you want, ask how much you need. Try seriously to estimate your project budget. Even if the campaign is funded, people will still back it.

Plan stretch goals. If you get more funding than needed, state what you are going to do with the extra.

Prepare blog posts. It's good to have 3 blog posts prepared. Also prepare a load of never-before-seen animated GIFs or videos to publish or share for journalists.

- On the day 0, campaign launch announcement.
    - About the game.
- When traffic slows down close to zero.
    - About the game or about the campaign.
- Near the end.
    - About the game.

Submit your project to crowdfunding site early. It will take some time to get approved. Before you finally launch it, proof read it well and send preview link to the press, bloggers and tweeters so they can be ready for your launch. Launch on Monday morning so you have good time to get the ball rolling before weekend comes and Internet traffic slows down.

If you try to get covered by the media on Friday, you will probably
get the story online on Tuesday.

Pre-campaign Journalism

Leveraging media to gain visibility in the middle of a running campaign is essential to revive the traffic when it starts to die down. But you should prepare these parts as you will have your hands full while the campaign is running. Related to maintaining public relations.

Write stories for journalists. They will love to cover you if you do half of the work for them. Try to write little different story for each media. Especially keep in mind who you are writing to; don't write a paragraph about procedural generation algorithms if the media outlet is only about playing games.

- Name of the project and genre/type.
- Current progress and how you did it.
- What is interesting or special about the project.
- Go straight to the point and keep it short.
- Estimated release date, price and platform.
- Bullet points are good but max 5 points per list.
- Playble demo or free game code to try it out.
- Links for more information e.g. website, presskit.

Contact all journalists on the same day. None wants to write old news.

- Early gameplay video.
- Trailer with playable demo.
- Launch trailer.
- Available on Steam.

Test your mail. Try sending the email to a friend or ourself, see if it goes to spam folder.

Only target media and journalists that have covered similar projects.

If you are promoting your strategy game on Greenlight, search all
bloggers and game news journalists that cover strategy games.

Remember to thank the journalist if you get featured. Also offer a comment they can use to update the article, if possible.

Mid-campaign

Measure if you are hitting your goal. Normally backing is high first, then it slows down and ramps up later.

For Kickstarter, there is Kicktraq.
For Greenlight, check how much people are voting YES, this tells if you
need to improve the campaign or promote it.

Follow who is backing you. It might give you an idea where to direct your promotion effort. If you are getting a lot of backers from NY, you should target to promote NY. If you are being backed up by a famous person, contact them if they can tweet about your project.

Answer all comments and reviews you can. It's crucial that you show activity on the campaign page.

Connect with your backers and potential backers. Check where there is most backers and throw a party in a bar. Should be done midway through your campaign where it should be quiet. Invite everyone, no expenses.

Use social media. Facebook, Twitter and Tumblr are all good places to market our campaign. Use relevant hashtags and groups e.g. #gamedev and #indiedev.

Use any other networks. For example, theme related subreddits and forums are good places to promote your campaign.

Keep the ball rolling. Don't waste all of your PR when you launch your campaign. For example, journalists will cover you much more easily if you have a good flow going on when they check the campaign.

Post-campaign

Keep voters, backers and potential backers updated. You should have over 20 updates planned for a 30 day project. Shows that you are really serious about this.

After the campaign, post regular updates. Video diaries are best kind of updates. You should post an update at least once a month. Seriously, it will give you visibility.

Sources