While crowdsourcing isn’t necessarily a new concept, its presence in the internet era has made it a hot trend that is rapidly gaining the interest of the business community. Several major corporations, including Coca Cola, IBM, Microsoft and Google have used it to support a broad range of enterprise needs. And although you tend to hear more about what big brands are doing to drive the movement, crowdsourcing by nature offers advantages to businesses of all sizes.
At the core, crowdsourcing involves collecting intellect from a community users, information that will be used to address a predefined organizational concern. This process was traditionally handled by small internal or third party groups, but the wide reach of the internet has made it possible for members of a brand’s target audience to play a direct role.
Crowdsourcing can be a very effective and affordable tool for marketers working the digital channel. Here are four ways to make it work for your business.
1. Clearly Define Your Mission
Your ability to clearly express your needs is vital to the success of your crowdsoucring campaigns. Things can take off pretty fast, so you need to make sure your community is working at meeting the right objectives. Do you want customers to suggest a color scheme for your new website, or propose an entire design concept? Where exactly should partners direct visitors who are interested in subscribing to your nonprofit’s email list? Whatever the mission, make sure the community you enlist knows exactly how to get through it.
2. Establish Your Community
When it comes to the essential community aspect of crowdsourcing, businesses generally have two options:
– Tap into a community that already exists.
– Build a community from scratch.
There is a great chance that the community you need to help already exists in some form. It’s all about finding it. Social media channels, particularly sites like Facebook and LinkedIn, are great places to look. The ability to communicate and interact in groups especially makes these two networks ideal for crowdsourcing. Depending on your objectives, you may choose to join existing groups, or build an entirely new one around your initiative.
Building your crowdsourcing community from the ground up is considerably more involved. However, this approach comes with the added advantage of having more control and being able to tailor efforts to your specific goals. This method requires a long-term commitment, which is why it is often used by larger companies and organizations.
3. Choose Your Tools Wisely
The crowdsourcing phenomenon has resulted in numerous websites organizations can use to meet their objectives. However, these sites tend to vary a lot in terms of category and purpose, so you should choose your tools based on what you want to accomplish. If you are trying to raise funds for a specific cause, you might need a service like Kickstarter, which connects individuals and organizations with supporters willing to fund their projects. But if you’re trying to build a team for a big web design project, a talented recruiting site like elance could come in handy.
4. Use Incentives Effectively
Offering incentives is a clever way to succeed with your crowdsourcing projects. This same method has been helping companies build brand loyalty with consumers for many years. It works, but you can’t throw out a piece of low quality bait and expect a real bite. You must offer something that will inspire results. Some businesses roll out simple incentive programs where the reward is earning points towards a specific item or level within the organization. Others offer attractive cash prizes totaling thousands of dollars.
Combined with a mutual focus on achieving the goal at hand, a good incentive program can stimulate the environment a crowdsourcing campaign needs to thrive. Just make sure the incentives are line with the effort you want participants to invest. Even if there is no money in the purse, supporters should know that they will be rewarded accordingly.
Get Your Plan On
Decision makers should keep in mind that there is no one-size-fits-all solution to crowdsourcing. Every business is different, so organizations must base every decision regarding this concept on individual requirements. Perhaps the best advice I can give for now is to examine exactly how crowdsourcing can benefit your organization. Don’t hop on this thing for the sake of having a comfortable spot on the bandwagon. Determine how it fits your business and what can be done to make the most of it before you move.