Small Businesses and Crowdsourcing
We spent a few minutes talking with Inbound Marketing Agents Account Manager and Consultant Isaiah Adams about his background in crowdsourcing.
Isaiah, what is your background in crowdsourcing?
I was a Strategic Marketing Analyst at Totem Brand Strategy. In this role, I helped companies unlock innovation through the power of crowdsourcing, also referred to as co-creation. At Totem, we represented the global crowdsourcing community eYeka, which has been named #1 worldwide by Forrester Research. eYeka has a community of over 200,000 “creative consumers," which are people with a specific skill set such as graphic design or photography, across 94 countries.
On Eyeka's platform, we helped clients map white spaces, reposition brands, and create valuable media content.
In 2006, Jeff Howe defined the term ‘crowdsourcing’ as “the act of taking a job traditionally performed by a designated employee and outsourcing to an undefined, generally large group of people.” Do you agree with this definition?
In principal, yes. However, I don’t believe the main objective with crowdsourcing is to re-designate job performances or responsibilities. I think the power of crowdsourcing is generating more quality ideas in less time than traditional research. James Surowiecki, author of The Wisdom of Crowds, makes the point that the power of a crowd is vastly greater than the power of a couple above-average smart dudes in one room.
What are some of the top ways small businesses can use crowdsourcing?
I can think of a few!
One of the main benefits of a correctly-run crowdsourcing contest is extracting consumer insights. Being able to analyze the contest submissions and understand the consumer motivation behind each submission is vastly important to future marketing, innovation, and business strategy.
Companies can also generate engagement and brand loyalty. People love being a part of a growing company. If they feel like their efforts can make an impact on your next marketing campaign or new product, they will be more than willing to give you a strong effort. I found that the top reason consumers participated was for fame, not financial gain. With social media, you can easily give a shout out to the consumer with the best submission. This is easy for a business, and the creators live for the fame!
Are there any downsides to crowdsourcing?
The only downsides of crowdsourcing are the sometimes-exhausting Intellectual Property (IP) legal battles and the risk of competitors catching on to your latest project. Most crowdsourcing companies have a dedicated legal team to prevent any IP battles from ever happening, but it’s definitely something to look at when choosing your platform.
Companies would often ask me, “Won’t my competitors be able to see the client brief?” The answer is yes, but there are ways around this concern. First, you don’t have to brand your crowdsourcing brief. Leaving it unbranded eliminates the risk of your competitors attaching the contest to your company. Second, word your brief in a way that doesn’t make it obvious what your expected results are. This is difficult, but a good account manager at a crowdsourcing company should be able to guide you along. Please also note that you can choose whether your contest submissions are viewable by the public or private. I suggest using private for more than just protecting your ideas, but because you get a greater diversity of results. If creators can see the ideas in real time, the submissions will most likely be closely related. Sometimes the best ideas are definitely out of the box.
Do you think small businesses are increasingly turning to crowdsourcing?
I think more than ever, small businesses are realizing the power of crowds. We are starting to see more free crowdsourcing platforms like TalentHouse. Depending on the intended reach of your contest, things can become very spendy. Remember that participation motivation is often about fame. Spend time promoting your participants and make them eager to help your brand.
Image Credit: www.freedigitalphotos.net/imagerymajestic
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