Introduction to Crowd Sourcing
This is an outline on How to gain success with Crowd Sourcing? Long ago, businesses created ideas, launched products or services, and launched 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 proves that businesses have realized the collective intelligence of the consumers or users worldwide to get ideas to 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” crowdsourcing’ in June 2006.
Here are some ways to succeed with crowdsourcing content, research, develop new ideas, outsource work, and improve productivity.
How to gain success with Crowd Sourcing?
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 have concerns over seat design and height, the objective is to identify the most suitable design and at what height 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,, especially if so many components or complexities are associated. For example, a new design for trays in a dishwasher may be easier than asking people to redesign its motor.
Charity begins at home; look inward to get ideas
Often, companies fail to tap the latent potential within the organization either for content ideas, product ideas, and research suggestions or to improve an existing product or process. This way, a knowledge bank can be created, so it gets shared with the top management.
If conventional methods of using email to share and forward are used,, it could lead to cumbersome procedures and tracking difficulties. Several apps are available, some of which 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 create lessons with assessment questions that enable content creators in the company to develop new ideas for blogs and articles.
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, it will be better to hold a survey to understand their pain points. This, in turn, will spin off on product development and inbound marketing- you can get ideas on new blog posts, articles, and other content ideas. But, again, make the surveys easy to complete and submit.
Keep the communication channels open so that only they can be informed of the progress in implementing their ideas or areas where they need more support. Unless the clients are shown how they benefit from sharing ideas, they may not be interested in participating in the crowdsourcing efforts.
Work with business partners (How to gain success with Crowd Sourcing?)
Business partners could be raw material suppliers, marketing associates, or public relations consultants. They could be a major 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 out of it. For example, 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.
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 industries have already succeeded with crowdsourcing.
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 for making 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 to get new web designs, and clothing companies can get new patterns or designs. In Web designs, 99design is one example, while in clothing, Threadless. It is not only a new design or product idea that could emerge from crowdsourcing; even marketing and advertising ideas can happen. The best example is Ford’s TV commercial for the the 2013 Focus ST. A stunt demo of the car was done, and the audience was asked to submit event videos. The final commercial was based on thousands of video footage the company received.
Use social media to reach out to a large audience
How to gain success with Crowd Sourcing is an interesting question; with the increasing popularity of social media- Twitter, Facebook, Linkedin, Pinterest, and Google+, it is now possible to do crowdsourcing much more effectively on these platforms.
Dunkin Donuts was able to create new products with its ‘Create Dunkin’s Next Donut’ that invited its fans to design their favorite pastry. Then, they follow it up with Coolatta asking fans to identify which songs went well with Coolatta flavors. It helped the company create more than three lakh fans on FB, and a Pandora channel dedicated to playing Coolatta music was created.
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 participated in games and quizzes. Coco-Cola also gave the 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 new ideas and designs.
Twitter can be helpful in many ways- Hollis Thomases, President & CEO; of Web Advantage, 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 research projects, surveys, and identification of patients for health trials could all be made through Twitter.
Shortlisting the best talent from submissions made through Linkedin or Facebook may be a problem for a company. What if several HR experts analyze the entries and create the 50 best profiles as was done by NotchUp? This was possible with the help of 1200 talent scouts.
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 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.
Incentives may help in crowdsourcing
Without incentives, crowdsourcing may not generate much response. 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 reward is good enough. Many large companies sometimes announce incentives for designing a logo, suggesting a new brand or product name. Here again, incentives should not appear too low or high to dissuade participants. Also, the exercise duration is important- say 30-45 days. If the last submission date is too far away, people may postpone or forget to submit their entries.
Measure the impact of the crowdsourcing effort (How to gain success with Crowd Sourcing?)
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 of the submissions and results.
Ultimately, the initiative should lead to developing a new product or service and impact the bottom line.
Micro-tasking is better
A large task can be broken into manageable parts for several people to collaborate on. If they are 500 topics to be written and edited, several hundred people each getting a small incentive will generate better results. Crowdsourcing is effective for thousands of photographs needing a caption. Where will you find the largest 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
Get customer feedback with crowdsourcing
No company can progress without proper customer feedback. Some companies like getting Satisfaction by providing the tools to engage customers by posting questions, concerns, and comments and responding to surveys. Online survey tools help companies integrate them into their social media. This enables real-time feedback sharing 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.
Conclusion – How to gain success with Crowd Sourcing?
Crowdsourcing is an effective way to seek a large audience’s help, 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. For example, Fiverr.com helps people to write resumes or cover letters for just $5. In contrast, iStockPhoto.com helps photographers sell their photos online, and customers have a wide choice of photography on various themes and topics. Even topics for college study have been crowdsourced on a platform called Source Hero.
Crowdsourcing is not for highly technical and complex problems to solve as they cannot be done by a crowd who does not get much incentive to contribute. The crowd is not on your payroll, and they can’t be manipulated or controlled. 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.
Several academic projects have also been undertaken through crowdsourcing,, such as the seabirds study by Tim Birkhead of the University of Sheffield. Crowdsourcing can also be used to raise funds (crowdfunding) for a cause or share labor or expertise.
For an established company used to a top-down approach, shifting to a shared-ideas platform may involve a major cultural change. Crowd Sourcing 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.
This is a guide to How to gain success with Crowd Sourcing? Here we discuss the introduction and some of the ways to succeed with crowdsourcing. You may also look at the following articles to learn more –