It’s a term credited to Jeff Howe, who wrote about the phenomenon for Wired magazine back in 2006. He defined the concept as a “new pool of cheap labor: everyday people using their spare cycles to create content, solve problems, even do corporate R & D.”
Today, crowdsourcing has become one of the most influential tools in the social media landscape to attract and capture the attention of unique or specific-reach consumers, those that have similar interests and or behaviors. It begins as a community based question, designed to answer or advise on an issue, challenge or just to garner feedback. Crowdsource has enormous potential in today’s craft brew market. Breweries are consistently playing with new seasonal flavors, trying to understand flavor behaviors, by region or demographic – and one of the best ways to appeal to your fan base is to enlist their advice and thoughts. You can do voting polls, inquire about favorite beers at specific seasons, even dig a little into what other brands and crafts your customer is enjoying. Knowing where your fans cheat a little gives you valuable insight. Crowdsourcing can add value to your brewery and it can be a great forum of ideas and shared interests for all your fans.
Crowdsourcing can be a great engagement tactic. Image source: iStockPhoto.
Crowdsourcing has been adopted by many multinational companies and organizations, such as the mining company Goldcorp and NASA. And with the popularity of social media, crowdsourcing quickly spread to Facebook. Social networks have made it easy for businesses to reach out to their community of friends and fans, and recruit new ones. It’s a way for companies to get relevant information from users and target audiences. One reason crowdsourcing is effective is that it gives a business’s audience a voice and an opportunity for recognition. Of course you don’t have to be a huge organization to use the concept. A few years ago, vitaminwater invited its Facebook fans to choose a new flavor via an app called “FlavorCreator.” It was wildly successful and the company ultimately called the winning flavor vitaminwater connect. Vitaminwater’s FlavorCreator app allowed fans to contribute to the first vitaminwater made by the fans for the fans.
Another example is the t-shirt company Threadless, which depends entirely on crowdsourcing. They asked graphic designers to submit designs for the community to vote on. Threadless uses a basic poll to crowdsource. Threadless invites its users to vote on their favorite designs. The shirts with the most votes go into production and are sold on the website. The designs with the most votes win, and limited runs of the t-shirts are sold online.
The bottom line is that your customers have great ideas and chances are good that they’d love the opportunity to share them with you. So why not take advantage of the wisdom of your crowd? Invite them into the conversation and you should increase engagement.
#2: Introduce/Highlight Your Employees on Facebook
Brand likeability is more than product favorability. Publicly acknowledging the people behind your brand—your employees—on Facebook and beyond is a great way to bring them, and your business, recognition. People like to do business with companies that they feel they “know,” and there’s no better way for them to get to know you than by introducing them to your employees. Plus, when your employees get a nod, your brand may have greater exposure to their friends and friends of friends. Adding this human element can also boost EdgeRank if your posts get more posts and comments than usual. Last week, one of my employees put a funny photo on Facebook of me eating a donut that was nearly as big as my face. It got 66 likes and 18 comments… pretty good for a random status update.
Our fans like to see that we have real employees and that they do human things, like eat huge donuts.
There are other easy ways to give your employees shout outs* on Facebook. Since Facebook is one of the most personal social networks, and the place where your employees’ friends and family are most likely to be, it’s a great public place to highlight employees’ accomplishments. This inspires a sort of positive cycle because they, of course, want to share their kudos with their friends, and in turn it shines a light on your business. You can highlight an employee every week or every month, making it a regular feature of your Page.
In the image below, ToolSelect shows it’s not a one-man operation but a tight-knit group of professionals. Now you can know exactly who is bringing the website to you.
ToolSelect highlights all of their employees on a Meet Your ToolSelect Team app.
Use a Q&A as a low-maintenance way to get the information you can use to share on Facebook and bring focus to individual employees. Create a simple questionnaire—What’s your proudest accomplishment? What’s your favorite non-work pastime? The best book you’ve read lately?—and ask every employee to fill it out. Get a spontaneous photo of the featured employee or a photo of him/her receiving an award, and give a shout-out to different employees on a regular basis. In the image below, Moment Skis posted a photo of their Production Prep Pro in their factory.
This simple concept brought them a large amount of engagement. One word of caution: Not everyone likes to have a light shined on them, so just be sure that your employee is comfortable with public kudos. Highlighting your employees’ accomplishments is a great way to boost likeability and engagement in your Facebook community.
#3: Reveal New Products and Features
Fans of your brand always want to know what they can expect next from you. Whether you own a bakery or a car parts manufacturing company, people who use your products want to know what you’re working on and Facebook is a great way to inform them. You can design a Facebook app that reveals a new product, service or special offer every day for a month. This gives your business the chance to show off the products or services that are not as well-known to your fans and customers.
Earlier this year, Nescafé in Greece did a campaign that involved the unveiling of some new packaging. They filled an aquarium with coffee beans, buried the new package in it and then told fans with each like, they’d reveal a little bit of the package. Within 22 hours, the company had received more than 3000 new likes and fans got to see the whole package. Many people would say “Who cares?”, but obviously people who were curious played along. The aquarium became the brand’s cover photo, at least for a day.
Check out the time-lapse video.
Medal of Honor
In July, the folks behind the super-popular Medal of Honor franchise invited fans to like poll questions on Facebook in exchange for the early unveiling of a new multi-player gameplay trailer featuring an all-new map. To encourage sharing with a campaign like this, you could say something such as “The more likes we get, the more we’ll show you.” This won’t violate Facebook’s terms of service. Anyone who knows a gamer knows all about the anticipation for a new game. The Medal of Honor app is another example of putting the release of a product in the hands of the fans.
Iron Man 3
Films have also been promoted this way. Iron Man 3 gave fans a glimpse of what to expect once they had liked a relevant Page.
Iron Man 3 used the simple act of liking to reveal a trailer, making it easy and fun for fans to get involved. You don’t have to be a huge brand to use some of these innovative ideas. What they’re doing can inspire your own “reveals” on a much smaller scale ideas.
Contributing story: Social Media Examiner