Crowdsourcing in to 2010

CrowdsourcingIts my humble opinion that Crowdsourcing will be a pretty big trend this year.

So what’s Crowdsourcing? Here is the Wikipedia definition:

Crowdsourcing is a neologistic compound of Crowd and a short for Outsourcing, for the act of taking tasks traditionally performed by an employee or contractor, and outsourcing them to a group of people or community, through an “open call” to a large group of people (a crowd) asking for contributions.

For example, the public may be invited to develop a new technology, carry out a design task (also known as community-based design[1] and distributed participatory design), refine or carry out the steps of an algorithm (see Human-based computation), or help capture, systematize or analyze large amounts of data (see also citizen science).

There are a huge range of opportunities for cash-strapped marketers and businesses with crowdsourcing by tapping an online community for ideas on how to advance a brand, or develop a product or, in many cases, both. However, we must advance with caution, as crowdsourcing can be perilous!

How? Well, let’s create a little scenario :

You are a marketing manager at a startup company, with no budget, and no resources to help you. You decide that you need help from your pals on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn to come up with a new name for a product line your company is launching. So you Tweet it out, Facebook it up, and shout it out on LinkedIn. The incentive you offer? Not much – couple hundred bucks on a BestBuy card.

Problem : You underestimated the desire for people to be heard and to provide input! Forget the incentive. People want to do this for bragging rights! So you’ve now got 200 entries! Holy cow – that’s awesome! Well, isn’t it? Don’t forget – you have no resources. So now you have 200 entries to sift through and try to come to a decision on your own… BUT – how about selecting the top 10 options and crowdsourcing (well, polling) your community again? Phew – crisis averted!

Now how long did it take to go through this process? Yep – maybe you could’ve come up with a name by yourself in the time it took to manage the crowdsourcing process.

These are still early days, though, and as this model takes off supporters say such problems will be resolved. More industry resources are being devoted to crowdsourcing, which should also help. Last October, for instance, a new advertising agency, Victors & Spoils, was launched by former executives from Crispin, Porter + Bogusky, billing itself the first creative ad agency built on crowdsourcing principles.

There are hundreds of websites leveraging crowdsourcing for a variety of purposes. Here is a great Wiki that lists Crowdsourcing sites, grouped by the following categories:

1. Individual businesses or sites that channel the power of online crowds

2. Brand-sponsored initiatives or forums that depend on crowdsourcing. I’ve included those that are no longer active as well, for reference.

3. Brand initiatives that allow users to customise their products

4. Brand-sponsored competitions/challenges focussed on crowdsourcing

Companies are getting smarter about crowdsourcing in general, according to Matthew Greeley, CEO and founder, Brightidea.com (via DM News).

“Marketers need to be brought in to ensure that open innovation sites serve as an extension of the overall brand. A simple way to do this is through white-label innovation platforms, which easily enable marketers to influence the look and feel of a crowdsourcing initiative so that there is a stronger tie between the brand and innovation.”

Smart companies are also applying crowdsourcing interally as well, he said. “Innovation can often come from unexpected places. Just a year ago, when one well-known consumer-facing Fortune 1,000 launched an internal innovation platform to help spur ideas within the company, one of its best actionable marketing ideas came from someone in IT.”

So how are you going to use crowdsourcing? Do you have any ideas? Please feel free to share them here. (See? Now I’m crowdsourcing!) 😀

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20 thoughts on “Crowdsourcing in to 2010

  1. HA! I should have read this before I wrote my blog post. Could have linked directly to it. Ahh well, I missed the post but I caught the idea. Thanks for suggesting crowd sourcing for Blue Gypsy, Inc.

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