Crowding Glory

A friend of mine – who’s a real pushover for contests and the like – came up with a “Cranberry Clinker” in one of her recent attempts. She didn’t win, but I don’t think that’ll stop her from trying.

Increasingly, the biggest brands – especially from the F&B sector – are calling out to the crowd to contribute ideas, provide feedback or energize their business in other ways. And now, slowly but surely, crowdsourcing is making its way into the realm of financial services. Remember DBS’ “I designed a bank?” competition?

While crowdsourcing isn’t exactly a new idea, social media has given it fresh legs. It’s almost too easy to set up a page on Facebook and throw it open to the crowd. So, why is it that only some initiatives work?

The answer, I’m afraid, is fairly prosaic. Crowdsourcing needs as much planning and careful implementation as any other business activity.

Here’s my list of key success factors:

• It’s all in the crowd, mister! Defining the audience is the most important step in crowdsourcing. Call out to the wrong people, and no one will hear. The success of crowdsourcing is hugely linked to crowd participation, which in turn depends on how well the crowd’s motivations, needs and aspirations mesh with the initiative’s goals. It’s also important to identify a crowd with the right skills and ability.

• Say it loud and clear. The crowd must not only know what and how, but also why. Along with telling them what they’re supposed to do, it’s necessary to let them know how their ideas will be used.  Being transparent will build trust amongst the audience and get them involved – essential ingredients for creative success.

• Keep the door open. Crowdsourcing effectiveness is linked to the quality of dialog. While the crowd must be allowed to work unhindered, they should also be able to interact with the organization or other participants when required.

• Empower, but don’t let go. In the true spirit of crowdsourcing democracy, participants must be allowed to vote and speak their mind. At the same time, the organization must retain executive authority.

• Reward and earn. Crowd participation and crowdsourcing feed off each other – a successful initiative draws crowds and vice versa. Providing the right incentives will ensure a keen and honest response.

Having said that, one also needs to be careful about ‘IP infringement & protection’ while crowdsourcing.

Have I missed something? If so, I’d love to hear… from the crowd.

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