When it comes to digital marketing, social proof is huge. This is especially true with Kickstarter and Indiegogo campaigns because people are looking to spend money on something that doesn’t even exist yet.
They aren’t able to head out to a store to touch the product, talk to an expert or try out the item at the store. All the information potential backers have about the product is whatever you’re publicly sharing.
So how do you get these internet strangers to contribute funds for a product that doesn’t exist? How do you win them over? How to get visitors to become crowdfunding backers?
The answer, which we’ll explore in detail, is Social Proof.
What is Social Proof?
Social proof, coined in 1984 by Robert Cialdini, is a psychology phenomenon that describes the fact that people will conform in order to be liked or accepted.
It’s a concept that applies to almost everything that you buy or do. Imagine that your TV just breathed its last life and you need to replace it (how else will you watch Grey’s Anatomy?). What do you do?
If you’re anything like 99.5% of people out there, you’ll do a lot of research.
You might look at Consumer Reports and see what they have to say about the best TVs. You might head to Wire Cutter to read their TV reviews. You might text a friend or two to see what TV they have and how they like it. You might head to the nearest Best Buy to talk to an expert in their TV department about the different options available. You might even check out electronic trade publications to see what new TV tech is out there.
The bottom line here is that you’ll look to a lot of sources; each source will tell you that this or that TV is good and outline the reasons why. You’re getting solid points of feedback for a product from influencers, experts, friends and family on what is worth your time and money. Then, you’ll probably buy the TV that matches closest to what people say is “best”.
That’s social proof in action.
Why social proof will get you crowdfunding backers
Imagine that you’re casually browsing Indiegogo and see a project that launched two weeks ago. The project has zero funding and no one has backed it yet. There’s no activity whatsoever on the page.
What are some of the thoughts that run through your head? Here’s a few to get us started:
- Why does this project have no funding? Is this project a scam? I’ve read about some of this in the news where creators scam people on Kickstarter and Indiegogo.
- This project is kind of interesting, but will it even get funded? Why should I waste my time here? I’ll just click around to look at other projects that will probably get funded.
- Weird. Why has no one backed this campaign? How will I expect them to get this thing to me if they didn’t even try to gather backers for their launch?
When there is no one else doing something (in this case, backing a project), your mind creates rationalizations as to why the project doesn’t deserve your time. The lack of social proof puts your brain into overdrive.
Now let’s think about the other extreme.
If you arrive at project that has a lot of funding – thousands of backers, comments and answers and a slew of updates to read through – it all looks really exciting. In this scenario, you’re probably thinking “what is everyone talking about? What is this thing?”. You might feel excited to learn more about the project just to see what all the fuss is about.
It’s truly a snowball effect from there. You’ll be more willing to watch the video. You’ll be more willing to scroll through the page to read about the campaign. You’ll be more trusting of the project. You won’t feel awkward being the first (and only) backer for a project.
With a project like this, you’re more willing to spend more time on it because all the social proof has already grabbed your attention.
The three must-haves to convert visitors into backers
There are three surefire things you can do in order to increase the social proof on your page. This will dramatically increase the possibility a visitor will convert into a crowdfunding backer. We’ll outline what they are and why they matter so much.
1. Reach your goal early
Between these two projects, which one will you be more likely to back? One that has already quickly surpassed its goal on day 1 or one that only has 15% of its funding goal?
Yup, the one that’s already drastically funded!
Reaching your goal, and reaching it early, will do wonders for your campaign. It’ll help trigger the crowdfunding platform algorithms to get you seen by more people. It’ll convince people that your project is worth their time. It’ll prove to visitors that your product is worth their money.
The one, and only, way to reach your goal early is to conduct a comprehensive pre-launch. In this phase, you’ll want to create a high-converting landing page, find your tribe, and ready them to back your project on Launch Day.
2. Get badges of honor
Badges of honor will be different for each project and industry. You must be sure to do research before you launch to see what other people in the same project category has done before.
The badges of honor inform the visitor that you are legitimate. Since third-party reviewers have provided you with top awards, your product must have some sort of staying power. The badge, merely by being there, provides more legitimacy and proof for your project.
These badges can also take the form of press logos. The hard part is getting someone to write about you. You’ll have to work for it and have it be part of your launch plan. Once you do get a journalist or blogger to write about your project, it’s easy to update your campaign page. Since reputable sources are vouching for your project, visitors will be more likely to trust your campaign.
3. Show testimonials
Another way to garner social proof is to get testimonials from those who are well-respected in the industry, early customer or beta testers.
This point expands on the power of referrals that Paul Jarvis calls trust by proxy in his book Company of One.
“Referrals work because they build trust by proxy. A referral is credible because someone you trust is telling you that they trust a certain company or product. And since you trust the person telling you, that sense of trust is instant and immediate with the company or product as well.”Paul Jarvis in Company of One
Testimonials can be in the form of videos, GIFs or anything else that adequately captures the sentiment of a satisfied tester.
A shoutout from Seth Godin about any marketing book will probably drive incredible sales.
A testimonial from Taylor Swift about the quality of headphones will probably drive a slew of raving fans to buy the product.
A review from a top-rated company will probably drive fans and readers to get the product.
Early user reviews
In any case, you probably have a few early beta testers for your project. Capture what they’re saying and showcase the world. If you don’t have this at the start of your project, that’s completely OK too! The key tactic to getting this during your campaign is to ask your backers why they decided to back your project in the first place.
Social proof is crucial to the success of your project. It’s particular to each niche for crowdfunding, so be sure to do the research to get the right proof points before launching your project.
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