Study: Language matters in success of online crowdfunding efforts

Jan. 14, 2014 at 3:56 PM
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ATLANTA, Jan. 14 (UPI) -- In the growing phenomenon of online crowdfunding the language used hold surprisingly predictive power about the success of such campaigns, U.S. researchers say.

A study at Georgia Tech of more than 45,000 projects on crowdfunding site Kickstarter reveals dozens of phrases that pay and a few dozen more that may signal the likely failure of a crowd-sourced effort, the school reported Tuesday.

"Our research revealed that the phrases used in successful Kickstarter campaigns exhibited general persuasion principles," said Eric Gilbert, who runs the school's Computer Social Lab. "For example, those campaigns that follow the concept of reciprocity -- that is, offer a gift in return for a pledge -- and the perceptions of social participation and authority, generated the greatest amount of funding."

The language project creators used to express the reward or gift made the difference, the researchers said; for example, the phrases "also receive two," "has pledged" and "project will be" strongly foretell that a project will reach funding status, while phrases such as "dressed up," "not been able" and "trusting" are attached to unfunded projects.

The researchers compared the success of Pebble, the most successful Kickstarter campaign to date with more than $10 million in pledges for its smart watch, and Ninja Baseball, a well-publicized PC game that only earned a third of its $10,000 goal.

"The discrepancy in funding success between projects like Pebble and Ninja Baseball prompted us to consider why some projects meet funding goals and others do not," researcher Tanushree Mitra said. "We found that the driving factors in crowdfunding ranged from social participation to encouragement to gifts -- all of which are distinguished by the language used in the project description."

Of the more than 45,000 projects in the study, 51.53 percent were successfully funded while 48.47 percent were not, the researchers reported.

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