From leaning on a crowd of individuals to suggest anything from binge-worthy shows to ideas on reducing cosmic ray exposure, organizations like Netflix and NASA are finding creative ways to leverage crowdsourcing, according to Harvard Business Review.
Crowdsourcing is an internet-accelerated way to get work done that is beyond your everyday capabilities or capacity. Most marketing teams already use crowdsourcing without calling it that. Freelancers, designers, agencies — anyone outside your full-time employee base that allows you to get something done fits into this framework. Using outside talent is a scrappy way to scale efforts, making marketing teams more skill-diverse without overloading a team or draining the company's bottom line.
Crowdsourcing is a technique I’ve used to keep up in a fast-growing organization with often-changing multifaceted marketing needs. From this experience, I've identified three marketing moves I'm confident crowdsourcing works best for:
1. Find game-changing ideas.
Teams that work well together are usually aligned on goals, which naturally results in a reduction of creative, out-of-the-box ideas. Because the size of your internal full-time team is limited, crowds are a more effective way to come up with diverse thoughts and ideas. This model is also easy to scale.
Use resources outside your internal team to develop new project ideas that are thought-leading and potentially game-changing — or take a program that's too difficult to build up in-house and try crowdsourcing ideas and execution to come up with innovative ways to make it work. When it comes to generating creative marketing ideas, the more people you have, the better.
2. Generate industry-leading content.
One of the challenges facing any marketing team is executing a good content marketing strategy that consistently generates fresh, thought-provoking content. Once you have an internal strategy set, look outside your organization for ways to bring in views and ideas your dedicated team can't address.
From fun challenges to contests or ideathons, don’t stop at the level of idea suggestion. Give the opportunity for creative people to fully express themselves and build a production-ready content piece — whether it’s a blog, video, Instagram campaign, etc. This takes the pressure off your team to come up with everything, engages more facets of your audience, and helps you keep a better pulse on where your industry is headed.
3. Improve platforms and tools.
Crowdsourcing is an excellent way to avoid the astronomical time and financial costs of building and testing a new product, which Rainforest QA says are nearly a quarter of application development budgets.
Validating features, usability testing, and enhancement suggestions are all examples of crowd capabilities that will generate a better product and get you there faster at less expense. Involving the crowd in the development process creates better market buy-in because now people are personally invested in your brand. The trick is guiding the effort, curating ideas, and keeping the crowd focused.
Instead of recycling the same idea over and over via internal team members, use crowdsourcing to bring better ideas to the surface. You want to ensure marketing teams can openly collaborate, share ideas, and create more space for the out-of-the-box thinking that's critical to marketing success.
The crowd you use can vary: other internal employee groups, outside marketing vendors, the general public — or all three! Crowdsourcing allows anyone with a useful idea to contribute. Furthermore, it's also a great way to discover new talent that you never knew existed around you. Explore the "quick" and the "brisk" of crowdsourcing in your everyday marketing; believe me, the results can be amazing.