What is crowdsourcing? X-Factor has the answer!
Nick Clegg’s at it, Bloomburg’s at it and Simon Cowell sure is! Crowdsourcing or crowdfunding or in fact anything else prefixed by word ‘crowd’ is the social buzz word that encapsulates people getting together to get things done. Not exactly original, but the new spin is the skill with which technology is harnessed putting the ‘pow’ -er into the hands of the crowd.
According to Anthony Williams, co-author of Wikinomics: ‘How Mass Collaboration Changed Everything’, mobile and computer manufacturers routinely and refine and re-write software based on the opinions of thousands of users. Another good example is Wikipedia, which allows users to write and edit entries for its online encyclopaedia: ‘For the first time millions of people can aggregate their talent and expertise,’ says Williams. So, it’s not the idea, it’s the scale of the thing.
There are limitless applications for this type of community engagement; it has been used to great effect for disaster relief and political campaigning. But, how can you harness the power of the crowd as a small business owner?
Here are a few tips to get you started:
1. Define your goals: What exactly do you want your community or ‘crowd’ involvement to achieve? If you are a start-up, particularly in the arts or social enterprise arenas, you may consider crowdfunding to be an attractive route to acquire capital. With a clear bid and some kickbacks for your participants, or partners, crowd funding can replace specialized grant applications and traditional fundraising with a more casual, yet powerful, approach based on the wisdom of the crowd.
2. Choose your channels: You could engage your crowd through Twitter, YouTube or Facebook inviting them to comment or vote on an issue pertinent to your business. Social media is crucial to the concept of crowd sourcing because of the ability to reach such dense numbers of people relatively easily and fast. For deeper analysis, you may invite suggestions and feedback in dedicated webspace. Be brave! – if you are investing resources in crowd sourcing activity, you want the results to be as illuminating as possible.
3. Define parameters: Your crowd sourcing activity may generate high levels of feedback that you are unable to act on immediately, how do you manage this, where will this information go, what measures have you got in place to keep your crowd interested and motivated? All things to consider.
4. Select your crowd: Who are you putting your call out to? You want to aim for as large a crowd as possible, for more excitement and higher statistical significance, if that’s one of your key parameters. If you are crowdfunding, the larger the spread of benefactors enables a lower level of investment risk, which in turn is an easier sell.
5. How will you measure success? You’ve put yourself out there, the crowd has spoken and then what happens?
If the crowd speaks, you need to listen. If they’ve given their time and opinion, are you going to act on their ideas, suggestions and voices? The smart money is on a resounding yes. You can social share the outcomes of your crowdsouring process with your partners or participants, this helps to create a genuine and positive customer experience of your brand. This is the stuff that successful enterprises are built on.
Finally, have faith in the process. The crowd is a valuable tool for small enterprises. Go forth and crowdsource!
Want to create a pop band from nothing, which will sell millions of units with minimal initial investment and launch them on a willing participatory audience and customer base? Crowdsource it. X-factor it! It’s global, it works and properly done, can generate revenue and provide valuable and simultaneous product feedback.
Simon Cowell gets it.
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© Suzy Rigg