From designing marketing campaigns to vetting brand ideas to solving customer service-related issues and shaping new government services, crowdsourcing is a dynamic tool being used ever increasingly by companies to solve some of their most quizzical quandaries. First coined by journalist Jeff Howe in a June 2006 Wired article, the term crowdsourcing can be described as the process by which the power of the many can be leveraged to accomplish feats that were once the domain of an elite few.
L’Oreal, Sony and Toyota have all embraced the preeminence of crowdsourcing, using it to help them generate new ideas for ad campaigns. Mountain Dew has been inviting soft drink enthusiasts to help “shape the flavor, colour, name, logo, and design of the next Mountain Dew” through its crowdsourcing tool Dewmocracy. And in one novel project, a 23-year-old man is using crowdsourcing to navigate the dating world by attempting to go on 30 dates in 30 days, while taking cues from Twitter and Facebook as to how to proceed on each (http://mashable.com/2010/07/12/dating-brian/).
It looks as though crowdsourcing is here to stay – here are 5 reasons why:
- It grants access to a diverse range of ideas without a lot of investment – The technology makes it possible to unite large numbers of people who will share several ideas at a relatively stable cost. Time spent collecting data through formal focus groups or market research can also be heavily reduced by using this tool as a creative alternative.
- Messaging stands a greater chance of being relevant and authentic – Since the people engaged in the process will likely have a stake in the outcome, the input generated by the community will resonate with the voice of the end user. Also through the selection of people and breadth of ideas, this tool increases the odds of finding something of value.
- Crowdsourcing tools are engaging – Whether a person submits her/his own content and ideas or chooses to rate others’ ideas, they are an integral part of the creative process.
- It lowers the risk of new product and service introductions – The risks associated with uncertain marketplace demand for a new product / service can be evaluated by inviting participants to comment on what they think should be included.
- It builds relationships – Like many social networking tools, crowdsourcing is ultimately a means of connecting with people with similar interests, exchanging ideas, and cultivating lifelong bonds.