Crowdsourcing: Turning Consumers into Creators

In USA on June 11, 2011 by Abby

Have you had a really great idea for improving your favorite product or creating a delicious new flavor of ice cream?  Or maybe you’ve noticed a problem with and come up with the magic solution?  Many companies are banking on the fact that you, and millions of other consumers, are full of innovative ideas.  This is the concept behind crowdsourcing – soliciting ideas from a group or community.

Image from Tecnorati

Whether you think it’s a great way to engage consumers or an easy and cheap way for a company to tackle research and development, the trend of crowdsourcing doesn’t seem to be going away any time soon.  We have the $1 million Netflix algorithm prize, Ben and Jerry’s Do the World a Flavor, and Dorito and Pepsi’s Crash the Super Bowl ad contest, My Starbucks Idea, and the list goes on.  Even in ways that make less of a splash, consumers are offering their insight online every day to help companies make decisions.  But is all of this innovation-gathering actually helping companies connect with their audience?

The book Groundswell makes the distinction between crowdsourcing a single ad and making an actual change in the way your company engages with its customer.  Asking your audience to do the legwork and develop a brilliant Super Bowl ad, and then returning to normal operations after the big game doesn’t seem like a way to make a lasting impression.   In my opinion, for crowdsourcing to be effective, companies need to be committed to changing the way they interact with consumers, place high value on the feedback received, and integrate the concept of participation across the company culture.  Using consumer ideas to create a new product or advertisement is a fine start, and a great way to energize your audience, but the crowdsourcing can’t end there.

2 Responses to “Crowdsourcing: Turning Consumers into Creators”

  1. I agree the crowdsourcing is a trend that is not to be missed. You share some good examples of brands who are using the crowdsourced model and your conclusion about how it is most effective when used as part of shifting a corporate culture and not just as a one-off campaign idea is a good one.

    It wasn’t clear how much of your conclusion about the methods for crowdsourcing that would be effective was your thinking or ideas that came from Groundswell – so any way to make that clear when you are quoting from a source would be a good idea just to make sure you offer the right credit and also give the reader a clear picture of where your own thinking starts.

    With the great examples you shared in the post, you also could have chosen something more than just a stock photo image as part of the post. Nothing brings an idea like a crowdsourcing to life more than showing a screenshot of how a brand has implemented it.

    Ultimately, aside from the image – the one thing that would make this post more complete is sharing more of your point of view on what it takes to make crowdsourcing really effective. You start to do this in the last few lines, but it needed more detail to be a stronger point of view. (4)

  2. “Whether you think it’s a great way to engage consumers or an easy and cheap way for a company to tackle research and development, the trend of crowdsourcing doesn’t seem to be going away any time soon.”

    You raise an interesting idea about crowdsourcing here. I personally believe that crowdsourcing is a great, first step for companies to engage with their consumers in a real conversation about how the brand should progress and develop. I’m not sure that it is easy or cheap, but I think that it is real and genuine and that the outputs frankly make more sense in comparison to that of an R&D firm. BTW – I don’t mean to put down or negate the great work of R&D firms because they brought me my beloved Pralines & Cream (I think!).

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