Updated June 14, 2023
What is CrowdSourcing Data?
Long ago, businesses created ideas, launched products or services, and found them in the marketplace. The success depended on how much acceptance it got from the consumers. Perhaps, to underscore the power of the consumer or the user, Time magazine voted ‘You’ as the Person of the Year 2006. It was in recognition of the millions of users who anonymously made the content of Wikipedia, Facebook, YouTube, websites, and blogs rich with their contributions.
The Open Source software movement also believed in the power of the user to work on the operating system kernels and apps by providing the source code free for whoever is willing to work on it. Linux was also a beneficiary of this worldwide user-collaborative movement. This raised a formidable challenge for proprietary OS such as Microsoft Windows.
It goes on to prove that businesses have realized the collective intelligence of consumers or users worldwide to get ideas t create content, develop new products or processes, or outsource part of the work to a large group of people. Jeff Howe, Contributing Editor to Wired Magazine, coined the term’ crowdsourcing’ in June 2006.
Success with CrowdSourcing Data Content
Here are some ways to succeed with crowdsourcing data content, researching, developing new ideas, outsourcing work, and improving productivity.
1. Your objective must be crowdsourcing data-friendly
If you want to generate new ideas internally, the company must define the objective and the outcome you want to achieve. For example, if many consumers had concerns over seat design and height, the goal is to identify the most suitable design and at what size it should be placed for each model. The outcome should be more sales due to better or ergonomic seat design.
Not all problems or issues can be solved with crowdsourcing data, mainly if so many components or complexities are associated with them. A new design for trays in a dishwasher may be easier than asking people to redesign its motor.
2. Charity begins at home, looking inward to get ideas
Often, companies fail to tap the latent potential within the organization for content ideas, product ideas, and research suggestions or to improve an existing product or process. In this way, a knowledge bank can be created to get shared with the top management.
If conventional email methods to share and forward are used, it could lead to cumbersome procedures and tracking difficulties. Now several apps are available, some of that are free such as Knowledge Management Template, which can be used to create content internally and externally. These apps are customizable and usurer-friendly—slack, 15Five, and LearnCore. The latter enables employees to develop lessons with assessment questions that allow content creators in the company to come up with new ideas for blogs and articles.
3. Tap the innovative ideas from clients
Many companies keep in touch with their customers to get feedback on their products and services, but such communication can also be used to get their views on new services or products they may be interested in.
Instead of asking directly for a topic they may be interested in, holding a survey to understand their pain points will be better. This, in turn, will have its spin-off on product development and inbound marketing– you can get ideas on new blog posts, articles, and other content ideas. Make the surveys easy to complete and submit.
Keep the communication channels open so they can be informed of the progress in implementing their ideas or areas where they need more support.
4. Work with business partners
Business partners could be raw material suppliers, marketing associates, or public relations consultants. They could be a significant source of ideas and thoughts for the company as they are very much involved in the industry and know the market’s pulse. They also have a keen interest in developing your business as they stand to gain from it. Marketing associates can identify the weak points in the product from customer feedback or learn more about customer pain points that our service is failing to address, thereby developing new products or processes.
5. Create a website to source ideas
Sometimes to reach out to a larger audience consisting of stakeholders in the industry, consumers, experts, and anonymous people. For such an initiative, having a website may be the right strategy. Consumer products, the IT industry, toys, clothing, food, and several other sectors have already achieved success with crowdsourcing data.
An electrical products manufacturer created a website for its stakeholders- electricians, inventors, and contractors to contribute their ideas and innovations. Mattel and Lego, the leading toy brands, have used microsites to gather ideas on how to make new toys and designs. Mattel reported that computer engineer Barbie and anchorwoman Barbie were toppers in getting more votes from a large cross-section of children, men, and women. However, the survey was intended only for children.
IT companies can also use dedicated websites for new web designs, and clothing companies can get new patterns or designs. In Web design, 99design is one example, while in clothing, Threadless. Unique design or product ideas could not emerge from crowdsourcing tools; even marketing and advertising ideas can happen. The best example is Ford’s TV commercial for the 2013 Focus ST. The final commercial was based on thousands of video footage the company received.
6. Use social media to reach out to a large audience
With the increasing popularity of social media- Twitter, Facebook, Linkedin, Pinterest, and Google +, it is now possible to crowdsource data more effectively on these platforms.
Dunkin Donuts created new products with its ‘Create Dunkin’s Next Donut,’ inviting fans to design their favorite pastry. They follow it up with Coolatta asking fans to identify which songs went well with Coolatta flavors.
Coca-Cola effectively used its FB page to create a new flavor of Vitaminwater named ‘Connect’ in 2010. More than 40,000 FB users submitted their designs and flavors and took part in games and quizzes. Coca-Cola also gave crowdsourcing tools to design and develop new products. It helped them create something they were passionate about. The examples prove the effectiveness of social media in crowdsourcing data, new ideas, and designs.
Twitter can be helpful in many ways- Hollis Thomases, President & CEO of Web Ad.vantage, was able to write the book Twitter Marketing, An Hour a Day by creating a hashtag HollisTwitterArmy seeking help from people interested in sharing case studies. It helped her get valuable input and complete the project on time. She said that crowdsourcing research projects, surveys, and identification of patients for health trials could all be made through Twitter.
In addition to social media, there are a lot of discussion sites such as Quora, Yahoo Answers, or Linkedin Answers that carry several questions posted by viewers and several answers related to them. Such forums enable companies to know what the consumer is interested in learning about and how it gets answered. Many topics related to health, career, education, consumer goods, wealth creation, investment, financing, and technology are all addressed in such forums giving the industry an idea of the pain points of several millions of people across the globe.
7. Incentives may help in crowdsourcing data
With incentives, crowdsourcing data may generate more responses. But if there is a monetary reward, it should not be too low; while higher amounts may make it competitive, a $30,000 to $50,000 prize is good enough. Sometimes, many large companies announce incentives for designing a logo, suggesting a new brand name or product name. Again, incentives should appear high sufficient to dissuade participants. Also, the exercise duration is essential- say 30-45 days. If the last submission date is too far away, people may postpone or forget to submit their entries.
8. Measure the impact of the crowdsourcing project
Sometimes, a Facebook invitation to participate in a contest or send suggestions for product improvement may not involve huge costs but consume time and energy to analyze the submissions and results. Ultimately, the initiative should lead to the development of a new product or service and impact the bottom line.
9. Micro-tasking is better
Crowdsourcing data is adequate for thousands of photographs needing a caption. Where will you find the most extensive collection of bird recordings- A national park, National Geographic, Discovery Channel, or a bird sanctuary? It is in Xeno-Canto, an online platform for sharing bird recordings. It began as a small project in 2005 to aggregate recordings of South American birds. They were all crowdsourced by Bob Planque, a mathematical biologist at VU University, Amsterdam.0
10. Get customer feedback with crowdsourcing tools
Companies can only progress with proper customer feedback. Some companies like Getting Satisfaction provide crowdsourcing tools to engage with your customers by posting questions, concerns, and comments and responding to surveys. Online survey crowdsourcing tools help companies integrate them into their social media. This enables real-time sharing of feedback, and actionable reports, which can be achieved at affordable costs. Creatively engaging with the customers helps in customer satisfaction and helps in improving the bottom line.
Crowdsourcing data is an effective way to seek the help of a large audience, usually through the internet, to gather information on how to solve the company’s problems and generate new ideas and innovations. With the popularity of social media, it is now possible to reach out to a large audience at a much cheaper cost. Many crowd-sharing platforms are available to get new ideas in various areas- such as IT, finance, health, cloth design, and toys, among others. Fiverr.com helps people to write resumes or cover letters for just $5, while iStockPhoto.com helps photographers sell their photos online, and customers have a wide choice of photography to choose from on various themes and topics.
Crowdsourcing tools are not for highly technical and complex problems to solve as they cannot be done by a crowd who only gets a little incentive to contribute. However, DuPont and Eli Lily have utilized online research and technology experts to solve R&D problems that have been vexing them for a long time. It can improve productivity and creativity in a company.
For an established company used to a top-down approach, shifting to a shared-ideas platform may involve a significant cultural change. CrowdSourcing project is based on the principle that many heads are better, leading to productivity gains. Irrespective of the business need, a solution is always available on the crowdsourcing platform.
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