There are many startups out there (some of which are really well known, like GoFundMe) that created platforms and commercialized the idea of connecting people to help other people. And, over time they’ve proven what many of us already know: Capitalism actually works! Aside from that though, they also bring up the very important concept of how people can come together to reach common goals by sharing the workload on a given project or process – a concept known as Crowdsourcing. Let’s dive into what this is, and why you should be using it to help your business succeed!
Crowdsourcing is simply the concept that instead of a small team of individuals performing a task, you outsource to volunteers to assist. Looking back to WWII, America had scrap drives and rubber drives, to collect and recycle oil and other materials to help in the war effort against the communist and axis forces. In more modern times it’s been used to examine images of Mars and Jupiter for irregularities, scan the ocean for junk that needs collecting, raise funds for various causes and charitable organizations… but throughout all of those, they had a few common themes. Usually the people asked to help were either minimally trained or untrained, they all had a common goal and stake (thus why they chose voluntarily to help) and were almost never paid with actual money.
Examples of modern day crowdsourcing we see in use you may not realize are apps like Waze and Apple Maps. You can report a crash, a hazard, or a speed trap while navigating and it will notify other drivers of the problem automatically. Developers built the system, and drivers are encouraged to use it because it helps the roadways be safer – and the more people use the system, the more reliable it becomes. The same is true of apps like GasBuddy, relying on users to report gas prices with the advantage being saving money on gas and finding the best deals. In the end, everyone who uses the system benefits and the problem (slow traffic and traffic tickets, overspending on gas at the wrong stations, etc) is solved.
So how can this help your business? It starts with what kind of product or service you offer. Do you have some humanitarian ties, or is there a public benefit to what you offer? If you offer a paid service or product, could you offer a free version in exchange for dedicated consumer feedback to make your product or service better? Are you looking for ideas on a new logo, mission statement, or other branding? Once you answer those questions, you’ll know if crowdsourcing is something that you could utilize. If it is, how could you work to integrate public groups into your business model? Often for informational needs this is through creation of a moderated forum, public video chat meetings, or a blog. If you offer a product, this could be in person hands-on product testing, or shipping a product to a consumer with before and after interviews on what could be done better or what they enjoyed. In each case, the public contributes to the process and in return receives recognition, or the ability to influence the services that you offer or the future of your project or organization, and you are able to reduce cost while still attaining a viable end result with the added bonus of positive public relations.
Although this is just a brief overview, hopefully it helps you to know what Crowdsourcing is, some examples of it in use and most importantly, what are some ways it could possibly help your business or organization!