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Why Getting on Upworthy is the New Goal for Kickstarter Campaigns

Why Getting on Upworthy is the New Goal for Kickstarter Campaigns

When the project page for Pamela Green and Jarik van Sluijs’ campaign for “Be Natural: The Untold Story of Alice-Guy Blache” launched on Kickstarter, it was promising.  The film was about a subject that film history nerds knew, the first major female director, and it was an idea that was intriguing to people who had never heard of her.  The project featured interviews with people who have large fan bases, like Sir Ben Kingsley, Diablo Cody, Ava Duvernay, and Kevin Macdonald.  Yet they couldn’t get close to their $200,000 goal.

Until a video the team had uploaded to Vimeo was embedded in a post for the site Upworthy on August 22.  Here’s a look at the project’s progression using analytics made available through the site Kicktraq:

Upworthy is a site started by former MoveOn executive director (and the author behind “The Filter Bubble”) Eli Pariser and former managing editor of The Onion Peter Koechley.  They’re a company that posts inspiring or shocking videos with a strong social message and ethic.  They’ve become responsible for making viral a lot of content that roils emotions.  They’ve even been quite forthcoming about their (imperfect but incredibly successful) formula for helping videos spread. 

Films, especially those by independent producers have been quite popular on the site.  Ross Tuttle’s stop-and-frisk expose got a huge boost from the site.  Upworthy’s also given attention to Kickstarters for publicly accessible telescopes and a feminist photography project.  They’ve also just given attention to a former Indiewire Project of the Day — “Me + You” — the creator of which made a Kickstarter video explaining why it was important for her to make a Hollywood-style thriller with an Asian lead (herself).  

Though Upworthy notes in industry presentations that it does not have a fool-proof way to make videos, images and infographics “go viral,” the numbers on the promotional video for “Be Natural,” the Alice-Guy Blaché project, are incredible.  Not only do the donations just start pouring in once the Upworthy post went live:

But the amount of Vimeo views it provokes is absolutely astonishing:

Indiewire reached out to Upworthy to talk about their project, and here’s what they said about getting your video featured:

There are two ways to get noticed by Upworthy’s curators – the first is to promote a project (Upworthy’s curators continuously scour the Internet for meaningful content); the second is to send information to Submissions@Upworthy.com. It’s different for each curator, but safe to say the content has to pack enough of an emotional punch to be something they believe is worthy of sharing and is likely to be shared by the Upworthy community.

The Upworthy representative also said that the easiest way to make Upworthy aware of a Kickstarter campaign is to tweet suggestions to @Upworthy.  Here’s a graphic Upworthy sent Indiewire to show the results of its most popular video, a making-of music video behind a wonderful song performed by Zach Sobiech, a fourteen year-old who was able to write a song before he died of a rare form of cancer.

The charity that received funds from Zach’s song was able to receive $450,000 from sales of the song.

According to its privacy policy, Upworthy’s business model is to grow their mailing list and to take a small fee for referring people through calls-to-action on their email newsletters.  Upworthy has not yet gotten back to a question from Indiewire asking if filmmakers can use this model to promote their videos or Kickstarter campaigns.

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