Will you do us the honor and join our team of authors?

To write for the SohoBlog, contact us at [email protected]
(Shakespearean prose not required.)

Crowdsourcing: A “How To” Guide for SMBs

I dedicated a previous post to explaining the concept of crowdsourcing and how the employee/employer relationship is changing and becoming more amorphous. The development of crowdsourcing is one of the indicators for that change. As I mentioned, more and more professionals are choosing to offer their services through freelancing or crowdsourcing, and giving up the “employee” status.

When businesses decide to crowdsource, they are able to leverage not one or a team of employees, but a whole community of people for ideas, insights or solutions. Three basic steps are necessary to fully realize the potential advantages of picking the brains of a crowd:

First, if you want the crowdsourcing project to yield a specific result, you need to give specific instructions. You have to introduce the brand and its values to the crowd in order to make sure the results the crowd provides are in line with your brand. Also, the more detailed your request is, the more likely you are to get the desired result.

Second, finding the right crowd is necessary. All you need to do in this stage is outline clear parameters for the project in hand. Once you have that clarified, a quick search online will probably turn up a specific crowd that fits your needs, whether it’s business innovation, design, advertising, branding, usability, etc. If your project is more ambiguous, or if it’s in its rudimentary stages and all you’re trying to do is gather some ideas and thoughts, using social networks could be a free and effective solution.

Third, you need to motivate the chosen crowd by offering a fair and satisfactory incentive for their efforts. Unless you are willing to offer the people in the crowd a reasonable reward (not necessarily money) for their work, they most likely won’t even try to work on your project. However, sometimes if you’re a well-known company, simple name recognition and the opportunity to include the project in a portfolio may be enough for some individuals in the crowd.

In total, if you have a defined project, using crowdsourcing is pretty easy. The biggest challenge with using this method is deciding which of the options introduced to you by the crowd is the right one for you.

Each company, after getting the help of the crowd, will have to develop its own filtering mechanism to identify the most valuable input. There are many mechanisms in common use, including crowd voting or prediction markets. Companies can also use games and competitions, and have their customers or social network connections help them decide. With that said, each of these are best suited to particular circumstances, and have limitations. The lack of sufficient filtering solutions is the Achilles’ heel of crowdsourcing and, as such, companies should give most of their attention to this limitation when using crowdsourcing.

Related Posts

Forming an alliance: an Operative Guide to Small and Medium Size Businesses

Comparative Advantage for SMBs
Kickstart an Idea
Tags: , , , ,