Crowdsourcing is a business model based on appealing to a community of experts in an open forum to achieve a set goal. It is an alternative to delegating the task to an employee or outsourcing to a specific third party, and if executed correctly, can be a powerful branding exercise. It also fits well with today's active online communities that are just a click away, and has potential money-saving implications of bypassing agencies.
This can also open a channel through which stakeholders and customers can contribute to a brand's development and encourage deeper engagement and loyalty towards a product or service.
Making financial sense of it all
Ideally crowdsourcing should create an open ideas economy driven by an incentive that encourages a free flow of contributions. After setting the financial incentive, businesses can submit their briefs online and appeal to a global audience for solutions. Whoever posts the best solution gets the reward or 'bounty'. The better the reward, the better the quality and quantity of contributions.
Businesses can source high-quality and diverse fresh thinking for a set price.
Communication and marketing ideas
Advertising ideas and design work lend themselves well to crowdsourcing.
Traditional methods would mean limited resources for solving a problem and lengthy lead times for the right result. But crowdsourcing represents an injection of fresh thinking from creative minds and results in a diverse range of options for the client.
Platforms like IdeaBounty and Crowd Spring are designed to connect those looking for creative solutions with the right people.
Given that crowdsourcing logistically presents a number of challenges - especially legal ones where the ideas you source are concerned - it is often better to work with a specialist agency when asking for ideas.
Engaging audiences in brands
Hosting a brief is a branding exercise in itself. Given that branding is often understood as being the collective opinion and understanding of a business, allowing an audience to provide input into a brand's meaning demonstrates a business that listens, and shares its objectives.
While softer words like caring and listening can be overhyped, online reputation management has repeatedly proved that a responsive brand is a stronger one.
Allowing customers or other businesses that invest and work with you to see you are interested in their views provides a huge benefit for your brand. A view into the behind-the-scenes planning also gives customers a clearer understanding of the humanity behind your brand and possibly opens you up to a newer market of people interested in contributing brand ideas.
Beyond getting direct feedback from the people you are trying to sell to, the cross-collaboration possible through crowdsourcing has proven hugely beneficial in solving complex problems.
Individuals who participate in crowdsourcing not only represent a limitless resource of ideas, but are arguably the earliest adopters as well. Web-savvy, social and connected, they engage with your brand, contributing ideas and generating credible word-of-mouth.