• carldeancox

The Importance of Engagement

In my previous post, I explained how our lack of preparation led to our project failing to fund. Ironically, this lack of preparation wasn’t due to lack of effort: we spent a great deal of time and energy learning how to create a campaign page, how to write an engaging video script, play-testing and tweaking the game, etc. However, while we had created a competent and attractive Kickstarter page, that in itself did nothing to attract backers to our project. We were baffled: what had gone wrong?

In the lead-up to our campaign, one of our most important resources was the book, “A Crowdfunder's Strategy Guide: Build a Better Business by Building Community” by Jamey Stegmaier, and the many blog posts related to crowdfunding on his website. Jamey was very consistent in emphasizing the importance of engagement with your backers, and the need to build community ahead of launch. Unfortunately for us, we didn’t understand what he meant by this: to us, it was like telling someone that the way to become a successful musician is to write a hit song; sure, that makes sense, but how do you actually do it?

Because we didn’t understand what he meant by building community, we made one of our most critical mistakes: we invested money in advertising our game on various websites and social platforms. It made sense to us: if you want people to know about your product, you need to expose them to it. Unfortunately, this turned out to be an outdated way of thinking: while this was an effective way of attracting buyers in the past, it no longer works in today’s Internet-based world. We got exactly zero backers from traditional advertising (that this is common was confirmed for us in video conferences with other creators, both successful and otherwise: all of them said that money spent on traditional advertising was a waste).

It was only after several video conferences calls with other creators that we finally understood what we had done wrong: engagement means connecting directly with your potential backers. It isn’t enough to simply put a game out: you need to have people already in place that not only know about it, but actively want to support it. So, how do you connect directly with people? The answer, of course, is social media

Now, for many people (and in particular, young people), this probably sounds like the most ridiculously obvious thing imaginable. However, for people of Woody and my generation, it was a real struggle to understand how sites like Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter could be used to build community with our backers. Because of that lack of understanding, we had no engagement whatsoever with anyone outside our immediate group of friends prior to our launch.

In my next post, I will talk about how learning about how social media works changed my approach to it.

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