Overnight, Exploding Kittens has become the most backed Kickstarter project ever. Our world is currently so content marketing-obsessed, yet we can only dream of creating something so overwhelmingly viral. This is killer content. This is a brilliant example of just how important it is to understand your audience to be able to create content that really hits the mark.
What is Exploding Kittens, you ask? It’s a Russian Roulette-meets-UNO card game about – you guessed it – exploding kittens. As well as… what else?... magical enchiladas and weaponised back hair.
It reached its $US10,000 funding goal on Kickstarter in 20 minutes. Before an hour was over, it had raised $US1 million. At the time of writing, it is just shy of reaching the $US5 million with more than 114,000 individual pledges. All this and there are still 21 days remaining to raise funds.
It’s not just Kickstarter. Exploding Kittens has amassed close to 35,000 likes on its Facebook Page and more than 5,000 followers on Twitter. In an age of declining Facebook reach, that’s the sort of organic growth dreams are made of!
The average pledge is no more than $US40. Affordability and accessibility are certainly part of Exploding Kittens’ appeal, but there’s got to be more to it’s exponential popularity. Exploding Kittens is a family-friendly (unless you get the NSFW deck), humorous card game in which you draw cards until an unlucky player pulls an exploding-kitten card. That player is out of the game unless they happen to have a special card that is used to defuse the kitten by means such as a laser pointer, kitten therapy, and catnip sandwiches. Complexity and strategy enter the game via cards that allow players to attack each other, skip a turn, or peek into the deck.
Okay, but that’s not why it went viral either.
What made Exploding Kittens take off so quickly? Apart from the cat factor, it also helps that one of the creators of Exploding Kittens is Matthew Inman, author of the wildly popular online comic The Oatmeal. The Oatmeal is a supreme example of how to make engaging online content, and it’s won a huge following – 3.1 million Facebook fans and counting. It taps into the online zeitgeist of artists going directly to their audiences to fund their work.
The idea itself is unique, surprising and easy to grasp. The founders obviously understand the popularity of cats online, the pleasure people take in irreverence, the desire for people to be just a little naughty without getting in trouble for it. We’re not talking about literally exploding cats, but it’s a fun name and premise to work with. It’s not just the card game itself either. They created video content and images to add to the page. Consumers had all the information they needed to understand the concept and it was delivered in an easy-to-understand and engaging format. In addition to that, Inman created real-time content with images celebrating various funding milestones along the way. It’s not enough any more to have a great campaign, you need to engage with your audience and continue to provide value.
As for crowdfunding’s biggest success story, Kickstarter, last year it passed $1 billion in pledges from 5.7 million donors to fund 135,000 projects. What makes it so successful? In part, it’s the way crowdfunding elicits an emotional response. As backers, we’re all in this together, all inspired by someone’s call to arms. We’re all aiming for the same goal, and, if we get there, we’re all partly responsible for the project’s success.
Maybe, just maybe, we’re reading too much into this. To put it succinctly: amazing content will win your audience over without fail. Creating that content is never so simple.
My sincerest apologies to dog-lovers, but we’ve now proven cats really do rule the Internet.