Social media has become an integral part any modern brand’s online presence. It is a valuable resource that and tool that allows companies to connect with their fans and consumers while also acting as publication platform for all sorts of branded content. While most brands are aware of the obvious benefits of connecting with consumers such as building relationships and trust in your brand to simply keeping your company top-of-mind when that user does start going through the buying cycle, surprisingly few brands are viewing the fans or followers in themselves as a resource.
Crowdsourcing is a concept that basically encapsulates the values and practices of the social web – or web2.0 if you’d like. Broadly speaking, crowdsourcing refers to the practice of asking your followers and fans to submit their ideas, designs or original content as part of an initiative to increase interaction while also gaining valuable insight and even content to use in other areas of your brand’s marketing strategy. It’s a technique that not only stimulates engagement in a big way, but allows brands and publishers to reap the benefits and talents of their most loyal fans. So what can crowdsourcing really do for your brand and how should you go about setting up and implementing a crowdsourcing campaign?
Social media is based on the concept of conversation or dialogue – brands can no longer afford to simply broadcast messages to an audience in a bid to gain their loyalty – consumers are now part of your brand and should be viewed as equals with whom interaction is key. Crowdsourcing can take many forms and can be done for many different reasons. Many crowdsourcing projects take the form of a competition where brands ask fans to contribute something of their own in order to stand a chance to win. However, many other brands simply initiate crowdsourcing because of its inherent ability to stimulate conversation about the brand and as a little market research exercise.
For instance: a brand asks users to submit a video of themselves using a certain product or explaining what they like about it as part of a competition. Not only will the brand be receiving some great (free!) content which can then be shared on other social media profiles or a company blog, they’ll also be hearing what real consumers think about their brand and what they would be willing to do while aligning themselves with that brand. Crowdsourcing really is a fruitful, two-way game between brands and consumers where both receive different benefits and rewards.
Social media is without a doubt the perfect online space to initiate a crowdsourcing project. The relaxed nature of the platform serves as the perfect place to engage followers and to entice them to join in. Because people are active on social networks every day, there are more opportunities for your brand to remind fans of your project -as opposed to say, an email campaign where you can only invite users to a project once every few days or so. The viral element of social media is also a fantastic asset in helping your project to gain momentum. As more of your brand’s following shares their content or ideas, so they’re following will also become aware of your drive and will most likely join in. In the democratic, open source place that is the web -crowdsourcing through social media is something that any brand can give a go.