Crowdsourcing is an innovative problem solving method that pools ideas from a diverse group of thinkers, but it requires careful thought and control for success. From finding innovative solutions to gathering opinions, designs, ideas and data — crowdsourcing is a proven method for boosting productivity.
Crowdsourcing offers a productive and often affordable way to gather ideas. By harnessing the brainpower of a large group, you can see countless ideas across whatever subject you need. And the best part is that many of these ideas or solutions are ones you may not even have thought of.
The best way to use crowdsourcing to your advantage is to go online and use an established platform or even create your own. This way, you can access a broad scope of talent.
By harnessing the brainpower of a large group, you can see countless ideas across whatever subject you need.
After running over 20,000 crowdsourced name contests, we have complied our 10 best practices to ensure you have the best crowdsourcing experience. No matter what you are turning to crowdsourcing for — or how you go about it — the tips below will ensure that your crowdsourcing project runs smoothly.
1. Be specific
When you first begin your crowdsourcing project, make sure you know exactly what you need. Your crowdsourcing experience will be most productive if you clearly define your goals and provide details of your project to the crowd. By writing an engaging, comprehensive project document, you will draw in responses that more closely hit your target mark. Rather than simply stating that you need an idea for how to distribute something you are selling, tell the crowd that you are specifically looking for a solution for storing and shipping climate-controlled coffee beans.
Your crowdsourcing experience will be most productive if you clearly define your goals and provide details of your project to the crowd.
2. Start in the right direction
Maintaining a clear, focused direction can be a challenge when it comes to crowdsourcing but starting off in the right direction will set you up for continued success. Be sure of what you are looking for before you begin your project – otherwise, you will have wasted time and energy in your project if you have to change directions down the line. Be mindful of what information you include, as some details may not be relevant to your outcome. For example, stating that you originally thought you wanted to open a karate school but are now planning to open a dance studio may confuse people.
3. Be brief
While including relevant details can bolster your crowdsourcing campaign, overloading your crowd with information can cause confusion and distraction. Make sure that every piece of content included in your project document will help guide the crowd in the right direction. Even one misleading statement can lead to ideas that stray from your desired direction.
To ensure that everyone stays on track, provide only the absolute essentials of what you are looking for. The crowd does not need to know that you plan to hang sheer orange curtains in the windows of a salon you are trying to create a slogan for.
4. Engage consistently
Checking in on the progress of your crowdsourcing project regularly will keep your crowd focused and on the right path. Engaging consistently allows you to monitor the progress of your campaign. Interacting with your crowd as the project goes on will lead to stronger result because you can provide direction and feedback throughout the project. Whether your interaction comes in the form of direct comments or a rating system, it is good to have an active presence.
Engaging consistently allows you to monitor the progress of your campaign.
5. Provide individual feedback
While people submit ideas to you and some come close and others miss the mark, don’t just stand back and let them struggle. Share your feedback like you would at work if an employee was working on a project and not providing the expected results.
Here at Squadhelp, we run business naming contests and sometimes we see entries that contain a strong concept or idea – but have not quite hit the mark – we give private feedback to our creatives. This may look like a suggestion such as 'We like the first word of this submission, but the second word does not quite fit the idea we are trying to capture. Do you have any more ideas?'
6. Provide group feedback
The beauty of crowdsourcing is the ability to work with a large number of people. This means that you will see unexpected entries — you may even slightly shift your desired direction as your project continues — and you learn more about what you truly like.
A great way to refine your direction is to provide public feedback.
If you are doing this kind of crowdsourcing — you may have started with an open mind — but realized that there is a common theme between all of the ideas resonating with you. A great way to refine your direction is to provide public feedback. Make sure the crowdsourcing platform you choose has the ability to let you communicate easily and quickly with your entire crowdsourced team.
7. Engage with the top, forget the rest
One challenging aspect of crowdsourcing is that not every idea will be exactly what you are looking for. This is true of every work experience, though, and it should not discourage you. Focus your attention on the people who are closest to your desired outcome. Guide them closer to your target until they are right on rather than attempting to get everyone working on your project to understand exactly what you are going for. Trying to get everyone on the same page would be like trying to get e.e. cummings to write like Charles Dickens, or Picasso to paint like Rembrandt.
8. Be honest, productive, and encouraging
While it is important to be positive and encouraging throughout the experience, we have seen that sugarcoating feedback is typically not a good practice. Being overly passive or kind with feedback moves people in your crowd in a false direction. It is important to be honest to weed out ideas that are not working. However, being overly critical is of course unhelpful as well. This can discourage even strong contenders from participating further in your project. Balance feedback with productive and encouraging statements, especially for people who are close to your needs.
Being overly passive or kind with feedback moves people in your crowd in a false direction.
9. Don’t be afraid to participate
In crowdsourcing, there is a tendency to hang back and watch the results roll in. However, this strategy can be unhelpful. You’ll make the most of your results if you actively participate in your crowdsourcing project. Many times, people who are unhappy with their crowdsourcing results did not adequately participate and guide the direction of the project.
Crowdsourcing is very similar to working with people face-to-face. If you were brainstorming ideas on a whiteboard with your team, you would not sit back and hope that they could divine your preferences. You would engage actively, support the brainstorming process and have fun coming up with some terrible and some amazing ideas.
Crowdsourcing is like growing a garden – the diligent gardener will weed and water daily to cultivate the best yield. A less attentive gardener may find himself with a garden overgrown with weeds.
10. Be open to new ideas
...sometimes finding the perfect idea among the crowd takes contemplation.
One plus to crowdsourcing is that you see a high volume of ideas. However, some people who run crowdsourcing projects expect to fall in love with a submission or ideas right away. They are looking for an immediate connection. In reality, however, sometimes finding the perfect idea among the crowd takes contemplation. If you have a few ideas you like, sit with them for a while and jot down what exactly you like about them. It also helps to try to come up with reasons you don’t like them. If there are no reasons — you may have found the solution to your problem — it just does not seem glittery and sparkly on first sight as you expected it to.
Back to you
Crowdsourcing is a great option for people looking to solve problems they feel stuck in. It can provide new angles and a multitude of ideas. It is also an affordable way to see lots of results. However, crowdsourcing requires attention and care to be effective — use these tips to make the most of your experience.
Have questions about how crowdsourcing can be used for you business? Ask us in the comments!