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Will A Digital Camera Cure Your Sick Puppy? The Persuasive Power of Communication Modality and Storytelling Narrative in Crowdfunding

Fri, May 26, 14:00 to 15:15, Hilton San Diego Bayfront, Floor: 2, Indigo Ballroom D


Despite the likelihood of receiving support from family and friends, the triumph of a crowdfunding project largely depends on the extent to which the project can motivate the “unknown crowd”. Project descriptions, which are supposed to give a full account of the incidents, help compensate for the lack of necessary social cues on which the donors rely to judge the worth of donations. The study examines the influence of donation-based project descriptions from two perspectives, communication modality and storytelling narrative. Using publicly available webpages of a major crowdfunding platform (N = 4,123), the author found that only a limited number of projects took advantage of the benefits of embedding videos and pictures. Although having more videos and pictures generally predicted an increase in revenue, the increase was unevenly distributed across different categories of projects. Meanwhile, topic modeling distinguished two salient storytelling narratives: while the fact-based narrative positively predicted the fundraising outcomes, the need-based narrative seemed to have a negative impact. The findings shed light on the necessity of fostering digital literacy, minimizing the digital divide, and optimizing persuasion appeals with the most appropriate storytelling tools.


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