Despite being hailed as the future of business decision-making by Jeff Howe in 2006, crowd-sourcing has experienced a negative reputation of late, as experts from across the marketing industry regularly hold heated debates as to whether as a discipline, crowd-sourcing has no place if a brand wishes to out-source an open-brief in an effort to save on professional costs – or for a short-term PR buzz.
Although this form of outsourcing is coming under attack, the longer term benefits of consumer social co-creation and participation marketing, should not be forgotten.
Whilst there have notably been a mixed-bag of crowd-sourcing attempts, there are also plenty of brands that have enjoyed immediate success simply by opening up collaboration to a social online community.
Within the consumer haven of MyStarbucks or Dells Innovation community, brand advocates spend hours posting suggestions, improvements and ideas for free, and revel in their ability to contribute to a brand’s outputs; promote their status as a Starbuck’s super-consumer; or to be viewed as an extension of the product innovation team at Dell. Here the focus is on long-term involvement, with the principles of crowd-sourcing offering a portal to treat consumers as a partner – and one whom has real value to an organization.
Crucially, consumers in these communities know that their ideas will be heard, considered and if good enough, be implemented with the appropriate credits and thanks. For these brands, crowd-sourcing is a win-win for all and helps them sustain and entrench an un-breakable brand loyalty with consumers.
To further build long-lasting relationships with consumers, Eyeka offers a global co-creation platform for brands to engage with the most imaginative & active customers.
Social co-creation is simply the next level of crowd-sourcing, which is focused on integrating consumers into long-term strategic brand development and enabling brands to create authentic content.
Inviting opinions, information or content from others as a process of contributing to an idea or a goal, is nothing revolutionary and we’ve been doing it for years. But the hype around ‘crowd-sourcing’ today as a new marketing trend is not so much that it has just been discovered – but more that social media has opened up a whole new channel through which people are able to crowd-source. Businesses, charities and individuals are utilizing this out-source approach to tap into large global audiences and niche communities – where individuals can offer fresh insight on everything from scientific innovations to acts of social responsibility.
In this more-austere period of cutting back on resource, asking the crowd for help seems like good business sense. Why hire an expensive consultant for his thoughts, when you can ask a crowd who are passionate about a cause and prepared to work for free for the sake of an idea; project; product or service?
In addition, giving a brief to a crowd enables fresh-thinking and new talent a chance to shine. It can find a seed of a commercial idea – or a momentary glimpse of the future after seeing a participant challenge an internal culture or method which could theoretically make the business see their product or service through the eyes of their consumers – and in a whole new light.
Ideally, crowd-sourcing tasks should be as open as possible and not force a particular thought or idea – or even in some cases a particular skill. A great example of this in practice is Levi’s ‘Care to Air Design Challenge’ that was posted on environmental and social innovation crowd-sourcing platform Myoocreate.com. Whilst Myoo asked the crowd to design a solution that was ingenius, eco friendly, aesthetically pleasing, and scalable – the most important part of the brief included the fact that feedback by non-designers would also be rewarded – encouraging collaboration rather than egos, with a $500 reward for the ‘most valuable Myoo Create member’.
Brands that place consumer collaboration or ‘co-creation’ at the heart of their business culture are crowd-sourcing different levels of expertise and engagement and accepting that each consumer is unique in what they can bring to the table. They have learnt very quickly that they never quite know what they’re going to get next and that crowds are an un-predictable bunch of people from all walks-of-life with different levels of engagement.
Creative communities are by their nature highly creative and engaged in working with brands and their agencies.
Eyeka, the global co-creation platform offers a safe, legal environment where brands can connect with a creative community of over 100,000 consumers that have been selected specifically for their creative skills to offer consumer insights into the brand. Eyeka manages the set-up, reporting and moderation of campaigns and encourages brands to think about how to leverage the community for long-term, strategic consumer engagement. These consumers are the creators – a community of consumers that fall in the 1% of the golden-acre of consumer engagement, producing quality content as well as motivating their peers to get involved.
At Eyeka, we have worked with brands across the industry spectrum to help them utilize a pool of active consumers to generate content, drive internal strategy, product innovation and market insight – however, this is just the start of the social co-creation process. The brand must use this creative spark to trigger engagement amongst their wider brand enthusiasts: Inviting their enthusiasts and fans to get involved in this process through engaging, testing and responding to the content produced which can be achieved by seeding output from the community across social media channels.
Social co-creation enables consumers to very quickly be turned from brand enthusiast into a valuable advocate, where they will actively recommend a brand because they feel a part of its development and its values.
The key to co-creation is therefore about creating long-term strategic partnerships with consumers and producing authentic content that can be referenced internally or externally -once it has been approved and voted on by the community to filter out any off-brand material. Further, social co-creation allows for a far deeper consumer engagement both amongst the creative community and the wider breath of global consumers who hang-out in the brands social media channels. Uploading content that is dynamic, rich and thoughtful will enable enthused consumers to respond, give their own opinions and engage on a different level with the brand.
Crowd-sourcing should not be under-estimated and of course, and has its place if all you are doing is purely out-sourcing a task to a wider audience with a view of cost-saving in mind. But for brands who wish to see long-term, tangible results from inviting consumers to participate – then a social co-creation strategy will enable you to partner with your brand advocates and build a lasting relationship with a community of influential’s, who in turn will support you with strategic brand development, insight, and innovation.
We have only just started scratching the surface of showing the business benefits of social co-creation. Consumers love it; Brand’s love it; and we look forward to taking on new and innovative campaigns that really stretch the power of the imagination and the influential capabilities of the community!