Let’s talk crowdsourcing for a minute. In very generic terms, crowdsourcing describes work or funding that’s gathered from a network of connected online participants. Think Wikipedia or Kickstarter.
When applied specifically to marketing, crowdsourcing can evolve in any number of ways. It has the power to turn traditional product development and marketing concept development methods on their heads. Crowdsourcing lets consumers and aspiring ideators assume the role of the R&D expert. It even empowers brand fans to develop a product’s identity and marketing message. Crowdsourcing is a dynamic tactic for tapping into the strength of the masses.
While generally used for consumer goods and rolled out to younger demographics, crowdsourcing is being leveraged by more emerging businesses and enterprises to tackle marketplace challenges. Organizations riding the wave of crowdsourcing are seeing shortened product and strategy development cycles, while spending less on traditional R&D and marketing resources.
As case studies are analyzed and best practices continue to develop, Trellist has discovered a common misconception—that crowdsourced ideas are a last resort, culled only when there’s a problem the insiders can’t solve. Because we believe in the vast potential of crowdsourcing, we think it’s best used in the best of times.
Rather than falling into the trap of reactive crowdsourcing, consider crowdsourced ideas as key elements of your overall communications and marketing strategy. Unleash crowdsourcing challenges when you’re experiencing unprecedented sales or growth. Let crowdsourcing follow your brand or product’s aggressive growth arc and soon you’ll see a bump in your social clout. After all, crowdsourcing participants are social influencers with large networks. The more ownership they’re extended in a crowdsourced action, the more likely they’ll be to rapidly spread the good word about what you’re up to.
For a practical example of proactive crowdsourcing, take a look at Starbucks. They’ve created a crowdsourced community appropriately named My Starbucks Idea. To date, Starbucks has collected 85,184 product ideas and 30,776 experience ideas. Over 500 have been put into action. My Starbucks Idea is a caffeine-fueled think tank where like-minded members submit their thoughts, gain points for participating and use their status to influence others. By involving the crowd, the Starbucks brand grows even stronger and is positioned for long-term success.
My Starbucks Idea is just one of many examples of enterprise crowdsourcing at work. Major players like General Electric, Amazon, EBay, Xerox and Panasonic are all experiencing success through crowdsourcing.
Before jumping into the crowdsourcing pool, remember that consumers are savvier than ever these days. They’re aware and they’re seriously connected. They know the difference between the spirit of collaboration and the scent of desperation. Whether you’re trying to increase general brand engagement or fine tune a product or service offering, involve the crowd early, often and under sunny skies for ideal participation and results.
In the end, knowing when to launch a crowdsourced action is only part of the success equation. Knowing what to ask your crowd for is just as important. I’ll discuss that in my next blog post.
In the meantime, if you’d like to talk about crowdsourcing and other creative ways to amplify your brand awareness and build connected customer loyalty, shoot a note our way, firstname.lastname@example.org