Crowdsourcing has several business applications: funding source, task assignment, knowledge sharing, and more. It’s helped product teams, marketing departments, strategic decision makers and tons of other disciplines to complete projects. I’m sure you’ve purchased a product that was dreamed up by someone in the crowd, we’ve all laughed at Super Bowl ads that were once crowd creative, but how do you know when it’s a good tool for you and your team to reach out to the crowd?
We find that people are ready to launch their first crowdsourcing initiative when they hit a few key roadblocks:
When you want fresh ideas. There’s a lot of research that shows that the more creative collisions that occur between ideas, the more likely those ideas are to be disruptive. Certainly these connections can occur inside an organization, but the conversation is inherently richer when there aren’t any boundaries at all. Diversity is a key ingredient here. (Actually: did you know that companies that report high levels of diversity are 45% more likely to report that their firm’s market share grew over the previous year and 70% more likely to report that the firm captured a new market) and if you invite as many people as possible to be part of the conversation, then it’s far more likely that you’ll source and combine ideas that are unique, surprising, and exciting.
When you want to build interest in your brand. Crowdsourcing has the benefit of building up a virtuous cycle with a brand. The public feels great that they’ve become a part of the future of a company and (especially if you move forward with some of their ideas), they become the built-in audience for when you launch a new initiative, product, or campaign. This, of course, requires some great communications skills. You can’t just ask for ideas and then not reply or fail to take action on any of them. Nothing breeds distrust in crowdsourcing like an absent moderator. But for those brands that listen? They’ll be rewarded with new fans – no matter what idea they move forward with.
When a survey won’t serve your market research needs. Yes, you got all the answers to the questions that you knew to ask. And yes, of the selections that you’ve presented, you have a direction you can take. But what about the questions that you didn’t know to ask? What about the options that it didn’t occur to you to put out there? How are you supposed to be conducting research with the public that takes your blind spots into account? Sure – a survey gives you data, but it doesn’t show you your defects or assumptions and it doesn’t point out solutions to those problems at the same time. Because the conversation is qualitative and omnidirectional in a crowdsourcing community, it is far more likely that you’ll get a rich set of data that de-risks the decisions you’ll make based on a fixed set of inputs like in a survey.
If you’d like to learn more about launching your first crowdsourcing challenge to a community of solvers, you can view a live community of solvers here. If it’s your first crowdsourcing challenge, sometimes it’s good to reach out to an existing group of people rather than draw your own crowd. What do you think you need to know to be ready for your first crowdsourcing challenge?