Analysis & Opinion

Learnings from 130 people talking about crowdsourcing

August 6, 2009 MullenLowe

Filmaka, a crowdsourcing platform for filmmakers, treats participants with respect

As you probably know by now, John Winsor (author, entrepreneur, innovator, director of strategy at Crispin Porter Bogusky) and I did a session yesterday on crowdsourding.  We had a great time.  There was a big audience, lots of discussion, and, thank goodness for the sake of dialog, some disagreement.   Thanks to all of you who participated.

Here is a summary of what we learned in the process and would like to share.

1.    Crowdsourcing isn’t simply about competitions

In our business, everyone thinks about crowdSpring logo design or Poptent video competitions.  There’s only one winner.  But why not focus more on co-creation and ideas that incorporate input from lots of people.  BBH Labs Sour video, our own Bread Art Project, and American Express’s OPEN Forum for small business are all examples of the crowd contributing content to create the whole.  The crowd can be your cast, your creators, your medium and your content.

2.    Determine if you want an open or closed process

Anyone on the web could participate in the the first three examples listed above.  But for competitive reasons, there may be times you want a program to be private, limited to customers or a particular market segment.  With the right platform you can make it closed and even unsearchable.

3.    Learn about the platforms

The host of last night’s event, Chaordix, offers a turnkey service for you to harness the potential of crowdsourcing.  It includes tools to: identify the right participants;  structure the assignment; initiate the process; collect feedback; allow the crowd to participate in identifying the best idea(s); and help participants feel valued.

4.    Be kind to your crowd

Crowdsourcing works because people want to participate.  But it’s our responsibility to reward them with a way to build reputation, the satisfaction of having a voice, honest feedback, and maybe even money.  One current criticism of the competitions is that they are turning creative people into serfs.  Filmaka, which helps source new filmmakers, works incredibly hard to respect the participants.  We can all learn something from them.

5.    Know the difference between community and crowdsourcing

A community is unmanaged.  It goes where it wishes, talks about what it wants, and follows no leader.  That won’t get you to your intended goal if you’re looking for a new product, a solution to a troubling challenge or even an ad campaign. Crowdsourcing needs a leader, someone to define the challenge, focus the crowd and determine the criteria used to evaluate ideas.

6.    Experiment

If you consider that thousands of your customers would love a say in your next product, that untapped creative talent is everywhere, and that there’s a community of people not only willing, but excited to share, respond, answer, invent, and even compete, it only makes sense to play around.  Start inside your own company.  Or simply begin making better use of Twitter by building a real following and asking them questions.

What do you think?  Did we leave anything off the list?  What will your next crowdsourcing project be?