The use of the term “crowdsourcing” first came about in 2006, and was a combination of the terms “crowd outsourcing”. The definition hasn’t changed much since the mid-2000s; crowdsourcing remains one of the main methods of harnessing the power of the masses, allowing businesses to acquire valuable, relevant information or services at a much more affordable cost.
Today, companies look to crowdsourcing for a number of tasks, most of which include product creation and improvement, stock photography, web graphics and design, content creation, and several others. Other than crowdsourcing these jobs, companies may also enlist individual members of the crowd to give valuable feedback on submitted ideas and products. Surveys are highly effective in this context, helping companies acquire a good view of what works well for the crowd and what doesn’t, and they can make necessary changes to their strategies afterward. In the end, participants whose work is outstanding are compensated monetarily or via other means, such as recognition.
The most common reason that companies choose to crowdsource is that it costs significantly less. It’s a feasible alternative if the company is looking to save their resources without having to compromise quality entirely, and they gain valuable information, consumer interest, and brand loyalty as well.
Another advantage of crowdsourcing is that investments are limited to ideas and commodities that are eventually developed. In addition, crowdsourcing does not require members of the crowd to be specially trained for their tasks, unlike company employees. Crowdsourced individuals also don’t hang around after the project end date, and do not require any work benefits or severance pay. This way, the company manages to save valuable resources and invest their funds in more pressing matters. Moreover, the company doesn’t do the looking for prospective talents; interested parties come to you with their ideas. What’s more, you can keep these people on file in case you might need them for future projects as well.
Crowdsourcing is excellent for marketing as well, especially via social media sites like Facebook and Twitter. When done right, the advertising aspect of it becomes almost effortless, and you generate a significant amount of interest in your products and services by encouraging crowd participation. If your company is just starting out, or you have yet to establish a solid brand name, this is a highly effective method to market your brand.
Reputation management can also be crowdsourced. Simply ask the crowd members for honest, constructive feedback (both positive and negative), as well as changes you can make to improve your products and services.
Effective crowdsourcing methods can also increase customer loyalty, as well as gain you a new following by the hundreds (even thousands, if done well). Crowdsourcing should also be viewed as a way to engage customers. While it provides a number of benefits to the company, it should also offer a high degree of value and relevance to potential patrons. Look for ways to make your fan base happy, or pique their interest enough to click the “Like” or “Follow” buttons on your page. Offer exclusive product information, special discounts, or coupons that offer limited access.