What is Crowdsourcing?

Who is Using Crowdsourcing? How Should You Use Crowdsourcing?


Photo credit: victoriapeckham

Crowdsourcing is the term given to taking a task that is usually done by one person and opening it up to a larger audience. Think of the show ‘Who Wants To Be a Millionaire‘, one of the three Lifelines is to Ask the Audience. Almost every time, the audience has the correct answer.

Crowdourcing is your version of Ask the Audience. The wide adoption of the internet has made the idea of crowdsourcing a viable option for just about everyone. With each web consumer also being a web publisher using social media sites, blogs, comments and review sections, anyone can crowdsource.

Crowdsourcing can be quick and, just like in Who Wants To Be a Millionaire, very accurate. It has been used by technology companies, design companies, medical professionals and in just about any industry.

The basics of using crowdsourcing is to set up a brief or problem set that you would like a general opinion on and distributing it in a way to get feedback from interested parties. This can be done with an online survey, Facebook status update, blog post, direct mail campaign or any other way you have to get feedback on your topic.

Who is Using Crowdsourcing?

Lots of people and businesses are crowdsourcing, some without even knowing it. Updating your company Facebook page with a question to your subscribers can count as crowdsourcing. Below are a few big examples of crowdsourcing, to help you get a better idea of how it can be used.

Vitamin water – New Product

Connect Vitamin WaterThe popular beverage company Vitamin Water, launched a new product earlier this year and they designed it on Facebook. The drink is called ‘Connect’ and is black cherry and lime flavored with added caffeine. The most talked about flavors online were voted on by Facebook fans. Once the flavor was chosen, Facebook users also helped design the label and packaging. Lastly, the name was chose by Facebook fans. The winning team name won $5,000.

iStockphoto – Build Catalog

iStockphoto is one of the most widely used stock images catalogs in the world. Don’t believe me? How many times have you seen this guy on a website? It is sleek, the search function is well done and most importantly all the photos are from users. So you can get lots of different styles for the same image you are looking for.

Gap – Design

Gap had a firestorm on their hands when they redid their iconic logo. After relentless backlash, they put the design out to the public. The reached out online, on blogs and on Facebook to have amateur and professional designers create a new logo for them to use.

Medical Professionals

Brody!Not that long ago my dog was very sick. He honestly went blind overnight and was not able to stand on his own (don’t worry he has FULLY recovered and there is no lasting effects except a small scar on his eye from the trauma). We brought him to the vet, the vet called in his partners, everyone ran tests and blood work and no one could figure out what had happened. When those efforts were exhausted they turned to the internet. Brody’s case was posted online to a group of veterinarians all over the world. Minutes later we had feedback, suggestions and similar cases. Brody is special but I know this process wasn’t invented for him. Doctors are using technology more and more to ask other doctors for feedback and to weigh in on problems they face.

How Can You Use Crowdsourcing

Those are just a few examples to get you thinking. Have you thought about using crowdsourcing to tackle a problem you have?

  • Ask industry experts for advice on a unique client situation
  • Ask your subscribers and fans for content they would like you to create
  • Reach out to your brand evangelists for services or additions they would like to see added to products
  • Poll your blog subscribers on other blogs they read to find guest blogging opportunities
  • Ask your direct mail list which social networking site they participate on

There are lots of opportunities out there to get feedback from your customers, readers, subscribers, event attendees. How you use the new tools available to you online are up to you.