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.
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.