Learnings from 130 people talking about crowdsourcing
As you probably know by now, John Winsor (author, entrepreneur, innovator, director of strategy at Crispin Porter Bogusky) and I did a session yesterday on crowdsourcing. We had a great time. There was a big audience, lots of discussion, and, thank goodness for the sake of dialog, some disagreement. Thanks to all of you who participated.
Here is a summary of what we learned in the process and would like to share.
1. Crowdsourcing isn’t simply about competitions
In our business, everyone thinks about crowdSpring logo design or Poptent video competitions. There’s only one winner. But why not focus more on co-creation and ideas that incorporate input from lots of people. BBH Labs Sour video, our own Bread Art Project, and American Express’s OPEN Forum for small business are all examples of the crowd contributing content to create the whole. The crowd can be your cast, your creators, your medium and your content.
2. Determine if you want an open or closed process
Anyone on the web could participate in the the first three examples listed above. But for competitive reasons, there may be times you want a program to be private, limited to customers or a particular market segment. With the right platform you can make it closed and even unsearchable.
3. Learn about the platforms
The host of last night’s event, Chaordix, offers a turnkey service for you to harness the potential of crowdsourcing. It includes tools to: identify the right participants; structure the assignment; initiate the process; collect feedback; allow the crowd to participate in identifying the best idea(s); and help participants feel valued.
4. Be kind to your crowd
Crowdsourcing works because people want to participate. But it’s our responsibility to reward them with: a way to build reputation; the satisfaction of having a voice; honest feedback; and maybe even money. One current criticism of the competitions is that they are turning creative people into serfs. Filmaka, which helps source new filmmakers, works incredibly hard to respect the participants. We can all learn something from them.
5. Know the difference between community and crowdsourcing
A community is unmanaged. It goes where it wishes, talks about what it wants, and follows no leader. That won’t get you to your intended goal if you’re looking for a new product, a solution to a troubling challenge or even an ad campaign. Crowdsourcing needs a leader, someone to define the challenge, focus the crowd and determine the criteria used to evaluate ideas.
If you consider that thousands of your customers would love a say in your next product, that untapped creative talent is everywhere, and that there’s a community of people not only willing, but excited to share, respond, answer, invent, and even compete, it only makes sense to play around. Start inside your own company. Or simply begin making better use of Twitter by building a real following and asking them questions.
What do you think? Did we leave anything off the list? What will your next crowdsourcing project be?
The folks at TED have taken crowdsourcing to a new level with their new translation capability. Professional translators in different countries volunteer to translate the TED lectures into their native languages. The crowd ( readers, followers) vote on the skill level of the translator ( kind of like ebay's self valuing mechanism) and so those with the highest scores get posted as the 'official translation.' The interesting thing about this model is that the translators do the work for free - out of pride for their country -so they can make sure their people get access to this information. Very interesting. Check it out.
I don't think there is a crowdsourcing business today that is viable longterm. Hopefully the business model will evolve, and the fees will increase so these companies can continue to flourish.
Having said that, the fee paid to the creative is only part of the puzzle. We at Filmaka work very hard to recognize our contributors in many ways - and request that our clients reward up to ten winners beyond the " first place". This is critical for building a community of practice. For after all, there's reason why groups are forming - people like it, are inspired by it, and enjoy the connection. Without the crowd, crowd sourcing becomes a posting for an idea on Craigslist. The crowd takes on a life of its own and is far greater than the sum of its parts, and as such needs to be nurtured as you would a creative department or an R & D Lab.
I think the crowdsourcing business model is still evolving, and as clients and internal agency folk are more comfortable with it and less threatened, the price structure can expand to include higher fees to the contributors.
At Filmaka we try very hard to reward our top contributors, well beyond the "one" winner or finalist. It is a critical community building tool to give a variety of incentives beyond a cash prize. Crowdsourcing without the crowd is a listing on Craigslist. Its critical to nurture the crowd just as you would nurture a creative department or an R&D lab.
Agree. I think a lot of what people are overreacting to is really just the Mom and Pop business trying to get a cheap logo. No doubt there will be businesses that try to exploit the practice, but standards and protocols will emerge that, ideally, work for both parties.
Crowdsourcing surely is an interesting concept. However, I can't see any reason why companies shouldn't pay the winner a proper fee unless they are using the term crowdsourcing as a euphemism for optimizing their own profit margin. After all, the fee for a logo should be directly connected to the usage and not to the average cost of a meal at Burger King ;-)
Good points. Wish you'd been to the session. There is serious concern, if not near panic, about CS among content generating creatives; fear of being undersold, devalued, replaced. I'm with you. The cream rises to the top no matter what. Competition is good. And there are opps for everyone in one way or another.
I have a feeling, and it's just a feeling, that crowdsourcing in the creative sector will continue to serve as a way to discover non-traditional talent. The rubbish will continue to blunder for free, the mediocre will garner serf-like wages for their efforts, and the rare example of true excellence will have a chance to be discovered and rewarded.
Thanks for the point to filmaka. I hadn't run across them yet. Interesting stuff! Looks like I might need to look into this Boston Ad club scene.
Have a most excellent weekend.
.-= Seth Simondsu00c2u00b4s last blog ..Why Teens Donu00e2u0080u0099t Tweet =-.
Thanks. I still think there is much to be determined. Often clients think they want cheap only to find out shortly thereafter they actually want good. There will always be a company that can live with a $20.00 logo. But as media gets cheaper, as consumers take more control, as the noise grows to a deafening roar, guess what? Great ideas, brilliant ideas, unexpected ideas are what will stand out, garner attention, and be worth a lot more than the $20.00 logo. And if I'm wrong, just be the guy in the business of sourcing that $20.00 logo.
great forum on wed night.
it'll be interesting to see if this movement toward egalitarianism within the creative class leads to overall better work, more effective work, more inspired work. Or will it fragment along lines of taste as each other media that has broadened has done.
one things for sure. it will mean things get made cheaper. a lot cheaper.
Just received this from Anand Chopra-McGowan at the Ad Club. Brilliant example. The Guardian in London, crowdsources investigative journalism, by having readers pore over documents covering the government's expense scandal. Give you any ideas?
Thanks for a great conference, Edward. I really enjoyed it and admire you and Mullen for spearheading such an event.
I'm curious, to what extent do you think the recession and high unemployment rates have contributed to the popularity of crowdsourcing?
i.e. if major companies were hiring again, around the world, do you think we would 'loose' the best talent to traditional venues?
And along the same lines, if companies weren't looking for financial efficiencies, would they be turning to this and other options as easily?
I suppose it all gets down to how we value what is coming in from the crowd. There was a time when the 'best creative people' were freelance, and not on staff. Does crowdsourcing have any sort of stigma in the creative community? How can we ensure that companies value this disruptive resource appropriately? Corporate expenses are so bloated it is easy to look like a hero when you offer good prices as a crowdsourcing model, but how do we determine what the market will bear so that we don't undervalue our offering?
Great questions. I think there is some influence from the recession, but to be honest, more from clients and brands that don't know any better or have true sense of quality and are hunting for cheap. Not sure they'll change with or without recession. In the cases of agencies that do know talent, I think most are simply using known freelancers, but negotiating harder. While it's only anecdotal, the clients and brands that I know experimenting with crowdsourcing are doing it as much to get consumer-creators involved with their brand as to find a cheaper idea. One of our clients, Lending Tree is doing a project with Tongal. They don't need the TV spot, but they do want to involve, listen to, inspire and mobilize their audience. And they assume that their audience wants all of that. Hence a three part program to generate video content. Also, as you may know by now, my true interest in CS is not as a contest, but as a way to co-create, i.e. @eproulx and his merry band of mates who created the movie Lemonadethemovie. It's all too soon to tell, but I do know that we all have to try it, experiment, voice our reactions, share ideas and make better rules as we go along.