Crowdsourcing Best Practices

Tips for successful Crowdsourcing

  • Don't set false expectations

Setting these expectations with an inspiring promise to your users only to severely limit their participation or worse still discount their contributions. Many companies succumb to this mistake. In the end, not only do the companies make a mockery of their own crowdsourcing plans but also end up marginalising the participants. For successful crowdsourcing, you must be willing to include the ideas from the participants or even allow them to co-develop with you.

  • Ensure participants roles are clear

These can include: -Using the participants as inspiration for the effort -Encourage the participants to take on the role of creator and designers -Ask participants to act as judges for whatever is created and -Ask them to be marketers for the final product

You must ask yourself, 'Which role do I want my participants to play?'. Participants are not subjected to only one role however you must be clear in what each of those roles are. Fiat Brazil launched a crowdsourced car design process and is explicit in what they want from their users at each stage o the process.

  • Think outside of the box

Explore the non-obvious opportunities as there is a lot more you can do than the usual asking of consumers to vote or submit video ads. Take courage and take those risks, you'll be surprised by what you can do on the crowdsourcing front than you imagined possible. Mountain Dew is a great example. They got their participants involved with the drink formula, flavour names and also to identify media properties on which advertisements they should run to promote the new drink.

  • Get employees to the forefront of the crowdsourcing initiative

Developing social voices, those people who are authentic, conversational and genuine talking on behalf of your company is important .

  • Connect employees who are normally tasked with the job being crowdsourced with the participants

There are 3 reasons for this:

  1. Employees have valuable insights to share and thus can guide the process to enhanced solutions
  2. Employees tend to be more accepting of the feedback if they are involved int eh process from beginning to end
  3. It shows participants that the brand is a more human with actual people working to solve the same problems. Furthermore it encourages consumers to participate
  • Provide participants whose ideas are used with real badges

We've gotten used to badges as reward mechanisms. We all want to showcase our badges everywhere, representing our achievements and where them with pride. However, to motivate participants in a crowdsourcing initiative, the bases must be meaningful. Think of the famous Tahoe crowdsourced advertisements from a few years back and imagine if the advertisements that were on TV included the names of those who created it.

  • Build momentum by breaking the initiative into part crowdsourcing, part education and part competitive game like

We’re inquisitive people so build on that by educating participants in fun and engaging ways about the product that they are developing. Not only that, provide ways in which the participants can contribute and share their ideas by getting involved in game type experiences focusing around the core crowdsourcing initiative.

  • Plan over the lifespan of the effort for multiple activation and reactivation strategies

With any crowdsourcing effort, you are asking a lot from your participants and like many people, they may get lazy. Ensure you activate and reactivate them many times over the period of the effort. Pepsi cleverly does this by asking people to submit new ideas every month for funding with its Refresh Everything effort. This encourages participants to get others to vote and in term activate others.

  • Allow for multiple levels of participation at every stage

Not everyone is an expert in certain fields but some still want to participate. Therefore ensure there’s room in the initiative for people who do not have the skills. With its Project Runway Challenge, Levi allowed fashion students from around the globe to compete in a design competition. The less artistic people assisted in the process by voting on the submissions and helping judge the winners.

  • If it’s a competition, make everyone a winner

This is practically impossible BUT you don’t have to have expensive and extravagant prizes. Even small token prizes can make people happy and feel appreciated by thanking them for their time, effort and submission of ideas.

  • Allow for team and social influence

As human beings we like to compete in teams as much as we do as individuals. Therefore if you should invite people to participate as teams in the crowdsourcing initiative as you’ll get a better response. Why? Because in the process, people will bring others and they’ll coax/persuade each other to do what it takes to win.

Making Crowdsourcing Work

Before considering crowdsourcing

You should ask yourself these questions as they may help you determine if your project is appropriate for crowdsourcing as well as minimise the risk and impact if it may fail.

How much effort is required to appropriately define the problem as well as requirements for the solution...up front?

How much effort will it take to manage the crowdsourcing process?

How much calendar time will be expended if the crowdsourcing process fails to yield a useful solution?

What is the impact on the business if crowdsourcing doesn't work for this particular problem?

What is the impact on the business of using internal people instead of crowdsourcing? What is the "opportunity cost" of using internal people?

Can you define "pull the plug" points for a crowdsourcing project? For example, how many parties express interest in working on your problem?

Can you establish some preliminary indicators that allow you to predict success likelihood for the final solution?

How do you decide between "pull the plug" vs. "go back and try to remedy the situation" if the leading indicators aren't looking good?

Can you define "success"? Do you have criteria in place for judging and testing solutions?

A Best Practice or a Worst Practice?

Crowdsourcing in the context of Brand Identity Refresh

  • Survey the crowd first to identify brand affinity

If it's a major brand overhaul in mind, it would be detrimental without first assessing your audience. It is best to do so early on and determine if it's necessary for a total brand overhaul or just in need of some minor adjustments. The age-old adage, “If it ain’t broken…” is totally applicable here.

  • Get actual designers involved

Anyone can access a font kit and Photoshop, however those with these access undermines the work of designers and is not a smart approach to business. Even without the resources to hire a designer, you can still enlist real designers to preserve your brand's integrity. Resources like tends to attract designers and artists.

  • Give audience a voice without giving up design

If the target audience is involved with the process, they tend to be more invested till the end, that is, the results.

  • Proactively seek feedback

Consider incorporating from your target audience rather than crowdsourcing the brand identity. Inviting feedback gets the target audience involved and thus they feel more invested in your product and eventually loyalty towards your business. For more information on crowdsourcing feedback tools, please visit the Feedback Tools wiki

Crowdsourcing your brand?

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