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5 ideas for crowdsourcing and user generated content

Author's avatar By Danyl Bosomworth 01 Sep, 2011
Essential Essential topic

Is crowdsourcing a solution to your content problems?

We've posted before about the importance of engaging with users, about earning the permission to market and the importance of social objects for user engagement and amplification. By engagement, I'm referring specifically here to engaging people with content to fuel sharing and search marketing.

The problem

We know that quality content is central for attracting and engaging site users and in turn convincing them to convert into customers. Creating quality content is also expensive and must be maintained. It's easy to let the content well dry up... Similarly, with social media you can run out of integrated ideas to get your users or consumers involved with the brand in any meaningful way. Crowdsourcing is a potential solution to solve both of these challenges.

A crowdsourced solution

Where user-generated content (UGC) is most often associated with ratings, reviews, forums, sharing video and images - crowdsourcing can help a brand create other new types of content and create an opportunity for recognising participants within the brand's social space.

Crowdsourcing can be about presenting a community with an idea or a problem along with a request to input into the solution, it can also just be about having an open forum to where a consumer of your products (or a competitors) can feedback. There are compounded benefits, in short:

  • Gain more trust from visitors and improve brand appeal
  • Motivate people to contribute and interact with each others content
  • Provide a greater depth in content, both for other users and for Google
  • Encourage feedback about products and services

Of course there are downsides, the big two for me are resource, since it isn't free and you'll need to moderate and manage it, and operational changes, since content can lose structure and sense, generally feeling a little detached. I'd suggest the rewards far outweigh the costs so long as you have your eyes open to these two key requirements.

5 ideas for implementing crowdsourcing

It can, but doesn't necessarily need to, get complicated…

  1. Blog interactions: as the hub of a modern site, the most obvious ways to encourage and create interaction is through a blog. After all, the functionality is there out-of-the-box with software like WordPress. Write blog posts that encourage interaction, spark debate, consider the occasional area of controversy to polarise opinion.
  2. Influencing site content or brand behaviour: With tools such as User Voice and Get Satisfaction you can pose a topic question and/or leave an open feedback board. Brands like Starbucks take the latter approach. These softwares are totally ringfenced and are software as a service, so you don't need a great deal of skill to get something up and running within a day or two.
  3. Social Q&A or Social FAQ: Pioneered by Yahoo Answers we're seeing both LinkedIn and Quora bring a new focus to the Q&A space. Imagine your own platform where you can present and request questions that fit the consumers requirement to help solve their problems. Of course, integrating this into your site requires web development which may or may not be worth the effort. But, all's not lost, you can just use those outposts. I also read a great post by Jay Baer on Social FAQ's which describes a practical way to encourage people to post in changes to static FAQ managed by the brand.
  4. Polls, competitions and contests: Though you may argue it's done to death, running a relevant competition or contest with prizes in return for user's ideas or suggestions about a topic can generate a wealth of content for your brand. Again you ideally want this content on your site, so there'll be some level of development required to be able to achieve that. With platforms like WordPress it's not so expensive anymore.
  5. Co-authoring thought leadership pieces: Working with other experts in your field enables you to 'stand on the shoulder of giants'. The recent Eloqua Social ProBook (an ebook) is a great example of this. With an idea and a design team at hand, Eloqua were able to create a phenomenal crowdsource piece that was marketed, and self-marketed, around the web. You could just as easily start this

So - the question is how creative can you get with crowdsourcing content for your brand? Start simple and scale-up!

Author's avatar

By Danyl Bosomworth

Dan helped to co-found Smart Insights in 2010 and acted as Marketing Director until leaving in November 2014 to focus on his other role as Managing Director of First 10 Digital. His experience spans brand development and digital marketing, with roles both agency and client side for nearly 20 years. Creative, passionate and focussed, his goal is on commercial success whilst increasing brand equity through effective integration and remembering that marketing is about real people. Dan's interests and recent experience span digital strategy, social media, and eCRM. You can learn more about Dan's background here Linked In.

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