Choose Your Words Closely

It’s not what you say, but how you say it that could determine how successful your crowdfunding campaign is, new research finds.

A study from researchers at the University of Illinois at Chicagorevealed that linguistic style, which is how one speaks, is critically important in crowdfunding campaigns, especially for social entrepreneurs.

The study’s authors found that how a pitch is voiced and worded is much more important for social entrepreneurs than it is for their commercial counterparts.

“Here, we show that the persuasiveness of entrepreneurs’ stylistic expressions is dependent on their category membership – that is, whether they are social or commercial entrepreneurs,” said Annaleena Parhankangas, the study’s lead author and an assistant professor at the University of Illinois Chicago in a statement.

For the study, researchers analyzed 656 Kickstarter campaigns between 2013 and 2014. They discovered that linguistic styles that made the campaigns and their founders more understandable and relatable to potential funders boosted the exposure and success of social campaigns. However, linguistic style made little impact for commercial endeavors.

“Early-stage entrepreneurs are increasingly involved in the theatrical pitching of their projects to various audiences at forums, such as accelerator demo days, pitch mixers, competitions and online crowdfunding sites,” Parhankangas said. “How they deliver the message matters – and, as a result, it is important to study how entrepreneurs’ language use affects their chances of raising funding.”

The study was co-authored by Maija Renko, a UIC associate professor of entrepreneurship.

The researchers said style doesn’t matter as much for commercial entrepreneurs. Instead, content is likely to be enough to persuade their audience to invest.

While what’s being pitched is more important for commercial entrepreneurs, there are some phrases they can use in their pitches to increase their chances of success.

A previous study from researchers at Georgia Tech looked at more than 45,000 Kickstarter campaigns and found that certain phrases used on the campaign’s webpage could predict whether it was going to fail or succeed.

Based on the 100 most popular phrases used in the project descriptions they studied, the researchers found that the top phrases found in successful campaigns were:

  • “Also receive two”
  • “Pledged will”
  • “Good karma and”
  • “Option is”
  • “Given the chance”
  • “Has pledged”
  • “To build this”
  • “Accessible to the”
  • “We can afford”
  • “Project will be”
  • “Mention your”
  • “Your continued”