Social Media is a Game-Changer for Crowdsourcing

Crowdsourcing is not a new concept. The process of allowing consumers to have significant input in the development of a product has been a tool at marketers’ disposal for sometime, but traditional marketing channels made this difficult to accomplish. In this case, like so many others, social media is a game-changer. With the development of social networks and increasing levels of engagement with brands, crowdsourcing has become a much more viable option for marketers.

Crowdsourcing is a tremendous tool. Here are a few reasons marketers love crowdsourced campaigns as well as a few brands that used the process exceptionally well.

It’s Cost-Effective

If a brand wants to develop a new product, they have a number of ways to conduct research to help design a product that will be well-received by consumers. They could hold various focus groups to try to paint an accurate picture of the wants and needs of their customers. Or, they could save themselves time, energy, and resources by developing a social media campaign with the same objective.

Ben & Jerry’s “Do the World a Flavor”

In 2009, Ben & Jerry’s launched a campaign to crowdsource a new flavor of ice-cream and reinforce the brand’s commitment to fair trade practices. In the Do the World a Flavor contest, users could choose from a variety of ice-cream bases and add chunks of goodies such as brownies or donuts and delicious swirls of anything from ginger to chocolate fudge. From there, users named their flavor and even had the option of uploading their own packaging design. Participants could also share their creation via social media. Out of over 100,000 entries, the winning flavor was Fairly Nuts, a caramel ice-cream with praline almond cluster and caramel swirls. When the product was shipped to stores, it exceeded marketing goals and reinforced Ben & Jerry’s dedication to fair trade.

It’s “Free” Advertising

If you can create a crowdsourcing campaign that is engaging and creative enough to go viral, you have a pretty good chance of catching the attention of the media. Once news outlets pick up the story, your brand will benefit from the data collected through the crowdsourcing campaign as well as the added publicity.  By creating a buzz, your campaign will really take off.

Rita’s Italian Ice Mystery Flavor Naming Contest

In 2009, Rita’s Italian Ice used a crowdsourcing campaign to find a name for a new mystery flavor. Colbert Nation, a community forum for the Comedy Central show The Colbert Report, heard of the contest and encouraged fans of the show to vote for a Colbert-inspired name for the new flavor of water ice. Their involvement spurred Stephen Colbert to mention the contest on his show, giving the campaign the “Colbert Bump” and boosting participation to almost 2 million votes.

It’s Engaging

Using crowdsourcing to develop a new product is a great way to engage consumers, especially for brands that have particularly passionate fans. It’s rewarding for consumers to see that their opinions matter and that they can really influence the direction of a company they love. The excitement surrounding a crowdsourcing campaign can also have a viral effect among die-hard fans.

Sam Adam’s “Crowd Craft Project”

In January of this year, American beer brand Samuel Adams let fans create a new draft beer through a Facebook® crowdsourcing campaign. Fans who participated in the Crowd Craft Project voted for their preferences on 6 important brew factors, including yeast, hops, malt, body, clarity, and color, via a Facebook app. Over 5,000 people participated in the project. The final brew, dubbed B’Austin Ale, debuted at South by Southwest in March.

 

As social media continues to develop, technology is improving by giving us new ways to connect with each other as well as the brands we love. Crowdsourcing will continue to be a valuable and versatile tool for marketers. Have you seen any other examples of crowdsourced campaigns that were particularly well-done or engaging? If so, we’d love to hear about it!

 

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