When people participate in something, they feel a sense of ownership and responsibility to see it succeed. That’s one of the reasons why it’s a good strategy to involve customers, and potential customers, in crowdsourcing parts of your business.
Ever notice all the food manufacturing companies that run contests to help them pick the next flavor? That’s crowdsourcing. What about magazines that run “Cutest Baby” contests through social media voting? Crowdsourcing. Crowdsourcing gets people excited about outcomes, and they’re more willing to put resources (time and money) into it. If you’ve been considering crowdsourcing, here are a few fun ideas to get your audience more engaged.
Create an Insiders Group
Many companies use their buyer persona to target people fitting that persona through social media. They ask them to join an insiders or advisers group. This gives members special access to the company, and they serve as an informal R&D group.
While you may not need something as large as that, selecting a question and throwing it out there on social media for voting can still drive interest. For instance, thinking about staying open later to accommodate the after-work crowd? Ask people what your hours should be. If someone tells you they wish you’d be open later so they could come after work, chances are if you change your hours to accommodate “their” wishes, they will patronize you, especially if you point it out to them.
Get the Kids Involved
This idea came from a program called MyMachine. In MyMachine, elementary school children created “dream machines” that were then vetted by college-level design students. Finally, high school tech students designed prototypes so the kids could see their dream become a reality.
Crowdsourcing that involves kids is a brilliant marketing idea because, let’s be completely transparent here, most parents like to brag about their children and with social media, there’s no end to the reach they can have. If you create a crowdsource contest or idea and you involve children in some public manner, their parents will become the largest social media ambassadors you have and will drive more traffic to your site than you can imagine. Get the word out, and they’ll flock to you.
Find the Right Words
If you’re not a wordsmith and don’t want to pay a marketing firm for your next tag line, crowdsource it. Create a contest to find your next message. It’s easy and can be a lot of fun. You can also do this same thing with your logo design or mascot. If you’re concerned about what you might get and are worried you’ll have to use one of them, have a firm give you 3-5 ideas, present them to your audience, and ask them to vote.
Create a Users’ Group
If your customer base is large enough and there’s skill involved in using your product, you might want to consider a users’ group. User groups are the ultimate crowdsourcing platform. People are crowdsourcing customer service and assistance for you. To do this you need a platform (an online community) and you need to approach power users in your audience to act as gurus and answer questions. You can also have a member of your staff in the community to seed questions and answers. No one ever wants to be the first person to ask.
There are a few things to keep in mind before launching any sort of crowdsourcing activity. Crowdsourcing requires very little investment outside of time, and it’s a great way to get people involved and understand your customer better. However, even the founders of this country understood the danger of direct democracy when they instituted the electoral college.
Island Records learned the hard way when they decided to crowdsource a concert tour for Justin Bieber, and the crowd voted to send him to North Korea. Never place anything in the hands of the crowd that you don’t want them to have a say in. Some people enjoy the joke and the power too much. If you’re worried your target demographic might be surly and unpredictable, you can limit the choices. That way your Bieber won’t end up in North Korea.
Christina R. Green teaches small businesses, chambers and associations how to connect through content. Her articles have appeared in the Midwest Society of Association Executives’ Magazine, NTEN.org, AssociationTech, and Socialfish. She is a regular blogger at Frankjkenny.com and the Event Manager Blog.
She’s a bookish writer on a quest to bring great storytelling to organizations everywhere.