Working the Crowd: How to Gather User Content for Marketing Campaigns

Crowdsourcing, or gathering content from followers and consumers of a brand, is a new trend in the world of marketing. It can save money, time, and produce more engaging content.

David Bratvold of Business 2 Community puts it this way: Brands can hire agencies, spends hundreds of thousands of dollars, and will receive content that may or may not hit with an audience.

“Now, here’s the same scenario going through a crowdsourced production company like GeniusRocket, for example,” he writes. “You tell your community the goals you’re trying to achieve and then dozens, maybe hundreds, of workers provide their insights and ideas. Multiple finished products are delivered in steps along the way, for probably $50,000. …While the obvious difference between these processes is cost, that’s not the part that excites me. You are going to get a radically more effective product because literally crowds of engaged people are getting involved, providing feedback, and producing finished content for you.”

Brands all around the world are using crowdsourcing for marketing purposes, either in the form of blogs, contests, or open submission campaigns. Coca-Cola, for example, ran a contest for Coke Zero in 2009 in Singapore. In 2011, a global contest was launched, and people all around the world contributed. A video was later made, according to online consumer co-creation site eyeka, that showed how the contest responses “allowed the brand to crack a major positioning problem.”

“It used to be that crowdsourcing was only an alternative for production – a great way to get affordable productions,” said GeniusRocket President Peter LaMotte told Bratvold. “What’s happening now is companies are merging crowdsourcing with traditional processes. There’s a creative director, validation models to make sure we have input prior to production, and TV & online distribution services.”

As Joe Pulizzi of Content Marketing Institute points out, it’s important to seek out crowdsourcing submissions from a niche crowd, rather than from everyone. That way, the quality of the work will be better.

“The real power of crowdsourcing is in focusing on a group of experts, not a group of generalists,” he says. “If you’re a brand marketer who is a believer in content marketing but hears the siren call of crowdsourcing, go for it, but be smart.”

Image courtesy of left hand/flickr

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