Kickstarter just released their 'Best of 2013' list, highlighting some of the more outstanding campaigns featured on the crowd-funding site. They also confirmed some hugely impressive figures for last year including the fact that an average of $1.3 million was raised every day in 2013 – that's $913 every minute. 3 million people (from 214 different countries) pledged $480 million to Kickstarter projects last year, with a very encouraging 19,911 projects successfully funded. Of those that pledged money, 807,733 people backed more than one project, 81,090 backed 10 or more projects, and an impressive 975 people backed more than 100 projects.
Kickstarter is an ingeniously simple idea but also a ruthless one. If at the end of any given individual campaign the financial target hasn't been met, funds are automatically returned to the investors and the project is cancelled. Only those products and services that catch the imagination of the public (or a handful of wily investors) will rise to the top and meet their goal. This system not only demands that creators are brutally realistic about their campaign in terms of the finances required but it also requires a degree of marketing chops to push their project ahead of so many others.
Kickstarter hand-picked a number of campaigns for their 'Best Of' post, such as the funding of the new Veronica Mars movie, and the manufacture and production of the GoldieBlox construction kit for girls. Let's take a look at another two of the most successful campaigns that made Kickstarter's list, the Pebble Smartwatch and the Oculus Rift, and the part that user-generated video has played for them, post campaign.
Pebble Smartwatch - $10,266,845 Raised Via Kickstarter
The Kickstarter campaign to create an Android and iOS version of the Pebble E-Paper watch raised $10,266,845, even though the makers only asked for an initial $100,000. Nearly 69,000 people invested in the project, which has been one of the most successful Kickstarter projects of all time.
Interestingly, although a strong video was an integral part of their crowd-funding strategy, Pebble didn't turn to YouTube to supplement their campaign, choosing instead to upload their promotional video to Vimeo. Their YouTube channel remains practically dormant with only 25 subscribers and a handful of views. Their Vimeo channel can hardly be described as buzzing either. However, type the keyphrase "Pebble Smartwatch" or "Pebble Smart Watch" into YouTube and you get around a combined (at time of writing) 76,000 results. The keyphrase "Smart Watch" returns 9 million results, with the Pebble taking 4 out of the top 10 places.
In the absence of any real branded content, the majority of the "Pebble Smartwatch" results are user-generated clips, predominantly unboxing or review videos. The following, from Tech site PocketNow, has garnered over a quarter of a million views in just under 4 months:
There's obviously an interest in video content based around Pebble's product, and although they are shifting stock after unprecedented demand held up shipping for a while, they could be making more of this marketing opportunity to maintain brand visibility for the future.
Oculus Rift - $2,437,429 Raised Via Kickstarter
The Oculus Rift, a virtual reality headset for the 21st century, that comes complete with ultra-low latency head tracking and 3D stereoscopic rendering, raised $2,437,429 on Kickstarter back in 2012, nearly 10 times the amount the creators asked for. 2013 was the year that saw the product move into the production stage although it probably won't hit the shelves for general consumers until this time next year.
The Kickstarter landing page for the headset features a couple of videos; the official campaign trailer and a demo walkthrough:
Compared to Pebble, the company are slightly more active on YouTube, with nearly 18K subscribers, and 14 video uploads that have attracted 966K views. However, it's the user-generated content around the product that is really pushing the viewer's buttons on the video site. A search on the keywords "Oculus Rift" returns 303,000 results, "oculus", 480,000 and "virtual reality headset", 23,000 results. YouTube sweetheart PewDiePie makes three appearances on the first page of YouTube for the term "oculus" with his trio of videos attracting approximately 8 million views between them:
Arming PewDiePie with a set of VR headphones has paid dividends for the company (he's the top non- YouTube channel on YouTube after all) but they are also benefiting from reviews and gaming developer fun and games. And that's before the player on the street gets their hands on a pair and floods YouTube with unboxing footage.
The Pebble Smartwatch and the Oculus Rift are game-changing products so it's no surprise that they both hit their targets on Kickstarter. However, without user-generated content, or earned media, they would have missed out on huge opportunities to build their brand and promote their products using video across social media. Luckily, they have devoted followers and interested third parties who have done this for them.
If you are currently running a crowd-funding campaign which lends itself to promotion via video (and there really aren't that many that fall outside of that category) then explore as many avenues open to you as possible in this area. Reach out to those who may be open to collaborating with you or reviewing whatever it is you are trying to raise funds for. If it's something that people can believe in, or get excited about, then you stand a much better chance of buy-in, on Kickstarter and beyond.