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Crowdsource - Crowd.JPG

Crowdsourcing: How much does your ox weigh?

Pt. 1 - An Introduction to Crowdsourcing

 

In 1906 there was a county fair where attendees were invited to guess the weight of a large ox.  Excited at the chance to win the cash prize, over 800 people took a guess.  Not one guess was right, but afterwards a statitician took a look at all of the answers and discovered something remarkable: the average of all the guesses was 1 pound less than the actual weight of the ox.  The take away: a crowd can be much smarted than any one of its members, even if they aren't working together.

Crowdsourcing has been around for a long time and it is possible that without realizing it you were part of a crowdsource.  Only recently has it become a popular term used by advertisers, designers, scientists, and big name brands. A huge reason for this increased focus on crowdsourcing is the enormous impact of social media.  Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIN and others have become a resource for marketers, brands, organizations, and others.  Ideas are freely exchanged and digital collaboration is the new way writers get past their blocks, designers find their inspiration, and brands get their next tagline. So what is crowdsourcing? I'm glad you asked.

Crowdsourcing is a way of engaging groups of people and having them submit, discuss, refine and rank ideas and submissions for a specific problem or question posed by an organization. This could be a company, advertising agency, and in many cases part of a scientific study.  The crowd can consist of consumers, employees, the general public, etc. This leads to high value information that can help a company better understand market needs and preferences, create a new product or enhance one that already exists, discover a solution to a difficult problem, or get direction to keep your brand relevant. To be succesful in todays market crowdsourcing requires a combination of online technology and human collaboration along with, obviously, an engaged crowd.

The Process (Simplified)

Crowdsourcing begins with a question broadcast online to a crowd. Whoever is asking the question comes away with a variety of answers, one that has been narrowed down. or a direction they need.  They also receive rich detailed information on crowd interests and preferences. Crowdsourcing is more than just brainstorming or ideation, proven techniques are used to focus the crowd on the topic that is being targeted.  These techniques or directions help harness the innovation, creativity, and problem solving skills of a crowd.

Crowdsource - Process1.JPG

The Wisdom of Crowds

In his book, "The Wisdom of Crowds", James Surowiecki says, "Large groups of people are smarter than an elite few...better at solving problems, fostering innovation, coming to wise decisions, even predicting the future."  So if Surowiecki is right, why doesn't everyone use crowdsourcing?  Even though crowdsourcing is becoming more popular, as organizations see the advantages to using it, it isn't easy.  There is a right and wrong way of crowdsourcing and marketing managers don't fully trust it yet.  Many aren't familiar with the technology needed to easily crowdsource and determining the right way to do it can be a challenge.  Another reason is that many in advertising and marketing feel threatened by the thought of a crowd creating better campaigns and coming up with better ideas than them.  There are however a growing number of large companies using crowdsourcing and that number will grow as marketers become more comfortable with it. 

Many companies are dipping their toes (to steal a phrase from a colleague's blog post) in the crowdsourcing puddles with an innovative advertising agency named Victors and Spoils.  The agency is located in Boulder, CO and uses crowdsourcing to develop innovative and out of the box campaigns for their clients.  They have worked with companies and brands like Harley Davidson, PayPal, Levi, and Virgin. 


Victors & Spoils from Victors & Spoils on Vimeo.

 


Next Week Crowd Success...

 

So how do organizations and agencies like Victors and Spoils use crowdsourcing and implement the ideas from it so successfully? Next week we will take a look at the implementation of crowdsourcing, where the ideas are coming from, how to use and implement ideas from a crowdsource, and how ClickWrite can help you crowdsource organically from inside your own company.   

 

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