Design Engineering

Study: Language used determines success or failure on Kickstarter

Mike McLeod   

General crowdfunding kickstarter R&D

Georgia Tech study finds pitch phrases play a major role in success of crowdfunding projects.

14-Jan-Crowdfunding-success-language-360A study by researchers at Georgia Tech studying crowdfunding reveals that the language used in online fundraising can predict whether a campaign will succeed or fail in meeting its funding goals.

As part of the study, Assistant Professor Eric Gilbert and doctoral candidate Tanushree Mitra analyzed more than 45,000 projects on Kickstarter and found dozens of phrases that pay and a few dozen more that might signal failure.

For their research, Gilbert and Mitra assembled a list of all Kickstarter projects launched as of June 2, 2012, and had reached their last date of fund collection. After controlling for other variables, the researchers focused on more than 20,000 phrases before compiling a dictionary of more than 100 predictive phrases. The language used generally fit into the following categories:

  • Reciprocity or the tendency to return a favor after receiving one as evidenced by phrases such as “also receive two,” “pledged will” and “good karma and.”
  • Scarcity or attachment to something rare as shown with “option is” and “given the chance.”
  • Social Proof, which suggests that people depend on others for social cues on how to act as shown by the phrase “has pledged.”
  • Social Identity or the feeling of belonging to a specific social group. Phrases such as “to build this” and “accessible to the” fit this category.
  • Liking, which reflects the fact that people comply with people or products that appeal to them.
  • Authority, where people resort to expert opinions for making efficient and quick decisions as shown by phrases such as “we can afford” and “project will be.”

The team’s findings are summarized in the paper “The Language that Gets People to Give: Phrases that Predict Success on Kickstarter.”



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