Crowdsourcing – the practice of obtaining needed services, ideas, or content by soliciting contributions from a large group of people, and especially from an online community, rather than from traditional employees or suppliers ( Wikipedia definition).
It’s a term we hear a lot these days, especially in creative, marketing and communications circles, but how and why should we use it?
Earlier this week a twitter chat #commschat asked exactly that, and below are some of our favourite responses:
Crowdsourcing exposes companies to a wider pool of talent which can generate more creative ideas/solutions for the company #commschat
— GladRagsandNameTags (@laragilchrist) January 27, 2014
We love crowdsourcing, and think it’s a fantastic tool to have on your PR workbench, but it’s really nothing new – we’ve just honed the technique and given it a buzzwordy-type name. The modern era of public relations has always been about listening – social media and the analysis of ‘big data’ has just made it easier for us.
Crowdsourcing is really just proactive listening, the gathering of opinion, perspective and viewpoints from a wider audience that allows you to tailor your messages for maximum impact and appeal.
Social media and our online networks however give members of this crowd a feeling they have contributed to something. If you can peg your messages to their party line and make them feel a part of something larger, you have earned yourself an engaged target audience and even customer base.
There are many success stories with crowdsourcing, especially when used as a fundraising tool on sites like Kickstarter. One of the examples I really like is that of Noble Rot Magazine who have created a fantastic publication for wine lovers and raised the funds needed from backers in their intended audience (including me), largely through social media.
This was an example of a really effective crowdfunding campaign, with most of the backers being influential in wine in their own right. The sharing of the magazine’s Kickstarter page, endorsements from leading wine writers and tweets encouraging others to support the cause from those who have already pledged contributions has led to a niche audience of engaged readers who really love the product and recommend it to others at every chance they get.
So while it’s nothing really new, we are using it more and more, and in different ways to our advantage. It is much, much more than just a buzz word.