Five Bulletproof Strategies for Successful Crowdsourcing
Crowdsourcing is one of the premier innovations of the digital age, bringing projects to life by asking people from around the world to share their ideas. By globally connecting engineers, artists, and researchers, the possibilities for crowdsourcing are changing the world as we know it.
Strategic crowdsourcing yields impressive results for the engineering and medical fields as well, with immense potential to increase access to low-cost health care. Crowd-engineering allows organizations to challenge engineers around the globe to submit solutions. This opens up countless options problems in electrical engineering, mechanical engineering, and even aerospace engineering. Tech giants like Google are also hopping onto the crowdsourcing train, as many forward-thinking companies realize that crowdsourcing doesn't just bring people together—a successful crowdsourcing campaign can predict high sales before products even hit the market.
A strategic crowdsourcing campaign can generate innovation, strengthen customer relations, and even solve complex social or medical problems. The key to building a phenomenal campaign is to formulate effective strategies beforehand, tailored to your team’s unique needs.
- Have a Battle Plan for Your Campaign
How many times have you opened a crowdsourcing campaign that had little to no detail? Did you stick around and try to dig for information? A crowdsourcing sponsor is unlikely to back a half-baked project, so meticulously prepare your campaign before showing it to the world.
Ensure that the goals of your project are actionable and detailed.
What is your crowdsourcing challenge—the question or call to action you present to your contributors? Determine a realistic timeline. After your campaign ends, have strategies in place for finishing the project. Decide if all submissions will be considered and shared publicly, or if only a short, pre-screened list will be posted online.
In many situations, a screening will not be necessary, but this was not the case when the U.K.'s Natural Environment Research Council requested name ideas for a research vessel and ended up with Boaty McBoatface. Consider all potential submissions, no matter how outlandish or ludicrous.
Outreach is vital for successful crowdsourcing.
Invest in professional marketing materials, especially video. Before launch, prepare a press kit with campaign information and high-quality graphics. For large-scale campaigns, there is also the option of a press tour before launch to build hype.
When building interest, the crowdsourcing platform can majorly impact who sees your project. But, with countless options online, choosing a platform is often overwhelming.
- Do Your Homework
After fleshing out your campaign, figure out which platform fits your project. See what people are saying about the current top crowdsourcing sites, and then corroborate these claims for yourself.
There are numerous methods for crowdsourcing. Research each one to determine what will work best for your team. Although Amazon, Pepsi, and LEGO have all done successful crowdsourcing, they have utilized drastically different methodologies.
It is imperative to identify and research your target market.
Target audiences are specific, with unique preferences that influence marketing. Though crowdsourcing is open to the world, strategic crowdsourcing targets contributors that have the most potential.
For example, crowd-engineering tends to target individuals with specific knowledge, such as aerospace engineers or electrical engineers. Research has found that trying to appeal to everyone actually hurts a project—a target audience must be defined.
The right platform will help you reach your target market and connect you with people who support your vision.
- Share Your Ideas First
This might seem counterproductive; after all, isn’t the point of crowdsourcing to receive ideas? However, studies of successful crowdsourcing campaigns have found that companies that get the ball rolling first receive far more contributions than those that do not.
Compare it to a classroom. Typically, no student wants to be the first to speak up. However, once the discourse begins, hands shoot up, and ideas fill the room. In crowdsourcing, a cold call for ideas is often met with silence out of hesitation to be "the first." But if you initiate the process and then invite contributors to discuss and critique your ideas, engagement skyrockets.
Furthermore, opening up your ideas for discussion empowers contributors by showing them that their feedback matters. Once someone feels valued, they are far more likely to share their thoughts.
- Tell Your Story—And Never Stop
Human connection is often a more significant motivator for contributors than any marketing strategy.
Make a personal connection by sharing the story behind your campaign. Express your team's passion for the campaign, discuss goals, and explain the positive impacts. How will your medical project save lives? How will your crowd-engineering campaign revolutionize the world?
Never stop telling your story.
For strategic crowdsourcing, turn every facet of your project into a story. Recount how a memorable donor supported your campaign in its early stages, or specify why certain goals were selected. Not only will this endear and personalize your team to contributors, but it will also provide ample material for press outlets, rather than the standard fare of reaching contribution goals.
- Engage with Your Contributors
It can be easy to forget about the person behind the screen.
Interact with your contributors by responding to their submissions and thanking them. The Getty Research Institute saw far more submissions from contributors after engaging with them and listening to their feedback. People want to feel validated, and validation encourages further submissions from both old and new contributors.
Take time to notice newcomers, as they are especially encouraged by positive feedback.
Remember how vital your contributors are. Treat them as co-creators. Embrace full transparency, and update them frequently so that they feel they are working together with your team.
Let contributors know that their work is vital with validation, incentives, or by reminding them of the good they are doing for the world.
Crowdsourcing can be a force for good, uniting like-minded engineers globally or improving a company’s innovation and customer relations. However, without a clear strategy and dedicated follow-through, a campaign has no chance of reaching its full potential.
Now, in traditional crowdsourcing fashion, you are invited to contribute any ideas for how to better make campaigns successful. We’ve offered up the first five suggestions, but what else did we miss?
What do you think should be added to our top five strategy?
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