The implied social contract of crowdfunding…

Social Media, it is something that has exploded in the past 10 years. The rise of the great social media outlets has been tremendous. As a person who spends a lot of time considering crowd funding projects, I have come to realize that social media is potentially the biggest advertising system ever built. You can quickly reach a number of people that are effectively interested in what you are saying, via the connection concept. Connect with the nexus of that group.

I started doing crowdfunded projects in 2009. I have in the course of that time (7 years) backed more than 400 projects. (my success rate remains at roughly 88%), I have backed movies, plays and lots of gadgets. I try once a quarter or so to pick 3 or 6 or even more projects that I find interesting and share the details on my blog. I am not a nexus of connection but I do have connections to a few people that truly are the nexus in some technologies.

As a technologist I find it very interesting, the impact of technology on social media, and the reality that social media doesn’t exist with the underpinnings of technology. Without the connection of infrastructure that has been built over the past 40 years, there is no connectivity for the social sites to consume. What is interesting to me now, is the path forward.

The concept in the social media world is that of influencer, someone that can get you in front of a number of potential professionals that are in fact the nexus of a larger network. The influencers aren’t the actual nexus, other than the nexus of the nexus network. It’s interesting to me, watching the crowdfunding sites and realizing that while the reality of crowdfunding is that it is born of social media, the crowdfunding sites don’t use or leverage social media effectively.

I wrote probably a month or so ago about the concept of helping campaigns on crowdfunding sites by introducing them to Superbackers in their space. Superbackers are, if not influencers, at connected to either a nexus or an influencer. I actually reached out to both Indiegogo and Kickstarter, but the only response I got from both of them was thanks but no thanks. As they try to monetize their systems, the reality is the SuperBacker lists are extremely valuable for the two sites. Superbackers don’t back one, two or three projects but 20 or more in a year.

The problem is the existence of Superbackers. The good news is they exist, the bad news is they exist. Why is it bad? Well first off they represent a small group of people. You don’t know if a SuperBacker is in fact an influencer. You don’t know if they are in fact someone that can drive additional eyes to your project, and in the case of Indiegogo and Kickstarter, bodies to the site. It doesn’t matter which one the person does, only that they are more than a serial project follower. 99% of the time, as far as I can tell, they are.

Now Superbackers have swim lanes and therein lies the rub. I am intrigued by gadgets. I can, when finding projects, I enjoy reach a large network of people quickly. I do often work with campaigns helping them come up with better estimates and helping them tailor their message to the right market. I am often, sadly, the voice of reason when it comes to the innovators belief in the total addressable market. I am usually the one that tells them to find the percentage of the market they believe they can truly achieve. That 50% or higher of the market is not a realistic goal. Big markets bring copy cats quickly, dominating a small market will also lead to competitors. So have a realistic goal, the art of the possible.

But the reality is my swim lane is gadgets. In particular gadgets that expand the functionality of cellular phone. I do connect however to people that are influencers in other areas. I have a good friend in the U.K. who is heavily into the photography and filmography markets. (Also in the Cybersecurity market but few campaigns hit that space). I have friends in many technology fields, that I can get campaigns in front of.

That’s why I recommended to Kickstarter and Indiegogo that they give the SuperBacker list in the area the campaign is in, directly to the campaign. You can certainly go buy that list. But the value of crowdfunding is that it is the crowd funding, not a company selling a campaign a list of people they can contact.

It all comes around to social value within social media. It is not who you know that is critical, it is how far does that network really go. The old business adage “you buy from people you know and trust” is so true in the crowdfunding world.


SuperBacker and super wonderer…