The internet has basically changed the way businesses engage with customers. The modern day customer no longer wants to be told, they want to discover. It’s no longer a one-way conversation.
And guess what? they look to the internet to tell them what they want to know.
What makes marketing different in the 21st century is that consumers now have the tools, time and desire to be involved on a much deeper level in knowing your brand and product/service(s) more than we’ve ever seen before.
Content marketing is probably one of the most effective marketing strategies currently being adopted by successful brands and startups to reach out to consumers and attract leads.
Brands that have mastered the art of content marketing offer their readers valuable information which encourages engagement, builds trust and positions them as experts i.e. the go to guy on the topic.
If you are just delving into content marketing or looking for digital marketing strategies to grow your business, then this post is for you. I’ll show you ways which you can use crowdsourcing to grow your business.
As you read further, you will learn that the whole idea of crowdsourcing is a win-win for both you and your target audience. You get to offer them valuable tips that is tailor made to their needs and they become potential paying customers.
Everyone is happy at the end of the day.
There are several distinct ways that you can use crowdsourcing to grow your business. All you need to do is build content marketing campaigns that use existing tools and technologies to achieve powerful results. That is the concept of crowdsourcing.
If it is agreed that you can use crowdsoucing to grow a business, then before we carry on, I’ll let you in on some basics about it.
Why Use Crowdsourcing to grow your business?
Crowdsourcing is a method of getting ideas, content, support or other types of solutions from a group of people. The term was coined by Wired magazine in 2005. In essence, it is like “outsourcing” solutions to crowds through social media.
There are many other businesses that incorporate the idea of getting input from the masses into their business model, too.
Today, businesses both big and small are all use crowdsourcing to grow their business and you should probably consider it too.
What is the benefit of crowdsourcing?
As the relationship between customers and businesses continue to evolve for the better, it brings everyone closer together, interactions and relations will continue to become more and more complimentary each time, giving and taking equally and fairly, one depending on the other.
You can turn consumers into brand ambassadors by getting them involved and engaged.
It’s at this juncture of ideas where a powerful and new way to socially activate and engage customers exists. It’s time to get your consumers talking so connect with your crowd when you’re using social media.
Businesses cannot survive without customers. When there is a disconnect between the business and the customer, the business will suffer.
The main benefits you will immediately notice are:
Crowdsourcing speeds up the content creation process
Sometimes you will never have enough time in the day to create the amount of content you want to create for your business. If you’ve been writing blog content for any length of time you’ll realize it can be difficult to get a regularly scheduled article published.
Distractions and problems like writer’s block, vacation, major deadlines, and other business emergencies can get the better of you.
With sites like CrowdSource.com, you can employ a scalable crowd of workers to create your content for you. Keep in mind, however, that crowdsourcing projects do take a lot of moderation & feedback. But it does help the content creator get around the “writer’s block” problem.
Crowdsourcing gets your customers & potential customers involved
Letting your target audience get involved is like handing out the microphone at a conference. People want to step up and give their opinion.
Customers and prospects providing input are not only valuable for your market research team, but is now being used as content marketing to attract others who feel the same way.
Plus, giving your followers their 15 minutes of fame creates a bond that is hard to break, making them naturally more loyal to your brand.
Using Crowdsourcing offers you diversity and creative choice
If for instance, you wanted to create a viral commercial for your business, you could hire one person or company to do it or, you can hand out the task to your customers.
What you will find is that you will get a very diverse selection of videos from a diverse group of people. Each one unique in its own way.
For any business, that diversity is invaluable. It is the same diversity that you will apply in everything else to truly understand and connect with your customers.
Below are the key principles you need to know and apply to use crowdsourcing to grow your business
#1: Ask experts for feedback
The idea here is simple. You can reach out to the various industry experts in your niche and ask them questions. You then compile the responses and you’ve got yourself new content.
This type of crowdsourcing is otherwise known as an expert roundup. In many ways, it’s almost like an interview. The point of course being that you leverage the authority and large audiences of these experts to drive more traffic to your blog or website.
For small and medium sized businesses, this is an excellent way for you to grow your presence online.
Since they are “experts” it is safe to assume that they are very busy professionals with very little time to spare. When you approach these experts you need to make sure that you ask the right questions.
Anything other than that will result in your request being ignored.
When thinking of a question to ask, you don’t want it to be too simple like “should a business have a website?”, or too complicated like “a step by step guide to content creation.”
Instead your question should come from a genuine concern your core audience has. Websites like Reddit and Quora are excellent in this regard. You will be able to find trending questions that your audience wants answered.
The process is very simple. All you have to do is type a relevant keyword, in the case of the example above, healthy eating. From the search results, you will be able to know just how trendy the topic is.
When you have the right question you want to ask, you also have to ask the right person. You wouldn’t ask a “healthy eating” question to a financial analyst. The way you approach experts is also important.
They probably receive tons of emails on a daily basis so you have to work hard to stand out from the rest.
You can establish a connection in a number of ways including leaving? comment in a blog post they wrote or referencing them in your own blog posts.
If you decide to make contact through email, keep your message short and concise and get to the point.
Here is a template recommended by Neil Patel that you can use:
As you already can tell, the email is short, concise, straight to the point but also importantly, polite.
#2: Ask your customers for feedback
Many businesses say, “We listen to our customers, and your feedback is always welcome.” That is all well good since you are listening to the demands of your customers.
However, if all you do is listen and take no further action, you risk having your customers feel short-changed. The gap between satisfied and disappointed is easily closed, yet it is often left wide open. This is a wasted opportunity.
A good way of getting feedback from your customers is to ask open-ended questions on your social media sites.
Doing this will not only close the gap, but also create a program that turns the act of collecting and reacting to feedback into a marketing campaign of activation and engagement.
Polling or surveying fans and followers is the fastest way to structure an active conversation on a topic that you encourage.
Whether you are collecting user feedback, running crowdsourcing contests or polling your audience, you’ll benefit greatly from making these types of campaigns recurring fixtures in your business’s social media strategy.
By encouraging this type of participation, you will condition your community to anticipate what’s coming next and this will cause a steady increase in participation. So don’t give up in the beginning.
Trust that you have a clear understanding of the behaviors you are trying to acquire and that your community is eager to participate.
You can also ask more personal questions like when or why they first had a need for your product or service. You’ve not only connected with your online audience, but also gained valuable insight into the thought.
Popular Starbucks executed this idea of using consumer feedback with “My Starbucks Idea” campaign.
#3: Create contests and giveaways
Everybody loves to win – I know I do, and when they win prizes or discounts, they are very likely to share the good news with their friends.
Consider implementing trivia promotions and offering reduced-price or free products or services as prizes to fans who identify the correct answer first. Using a contest application can give you everything you need to implement and manage a campaign.
Let this not distract you from your other goals. One thing you want to be sure of is your ability to capture contact information for participants. Getting users’ contact information allows you to plan for a post-event promotion.
You’ll know the participants have your brand top of mind at the end of your event, so having a special promotion ready to offer immediately following the event while you have the attention of the participants is critical.
You also want to be sure the platform you choose has all the social media sharing tools built in so participants can use Facebook and Twitter to let their social networks know about the contest.
After all, turning participants into promoters is one of the main reasons to run a crowdsourcing campaign in the first place.
I have spoken about taking advantages of holidays or events. The same applies here. You can create contests with a seasonal twist to get people talking, like a costume party.
A brand that executed this concept is Graco baby products. They implemented a Halloween Costume Contest in 2010 on the brand’s Flickr page and gave away a sound machine to the winner as an incentive for fans to participate.
#4: Conduct Research on Consumer Preferences
The laborious process of having to conduct consumer research with single-room focus groups, telephone interviews and paper surveys is a thing of the past. With social media platforms, it’s gotten a lot easier to gain insights into what your customers want.
A simple way to gain basic consumer insights about your products is to create a Facebook vote contest.
Ask your fans to vote on their:
- Favorite product
- Preferred product color
- Best use of your product
- Favorite shopping method (online/offline/mall/boutique)
- And so on
Crocs, for example, hosts a “new release shoesday” contest on Facebook. They engage their fans by asking them what their favorite new shoe is that week, and fans who participate have a chance to win Croc shoes.
Crocs then gains relevant consumer insights about market preferences.
#5: Have Your Consumers Create a New Product Variation
Take crowdsourcing further and engage your consumers by asking them to submit an idea for a new product.
When you ask your consumers for such in-depth product input, you give them a sense of empowerment, passion and commitment to what you do. You can also get them thinking about the types of products you already have, which increases both loyalty and sales.
- A restaurant owner might crowdsource patrons for a new dessert idea.
- An interior design firm might crowdsource ideas for a new lamp design.
- An app company might crowdsource ideas for a new business efficiency tool.
Lay’s has been hosting contests to engage the public by creating new chip flavor ideas. And the “Lay’s Do Us a Flavor” contest is one of the most successful new product crowdsourcing campaigns.
Participants can access the contest through Facebook or their contest landing page.
Lay’s makes it easy to enter. Participants simply choose a name, give three ingredients and then tweet about their entry. An update is automatically posted to participants’ Facebook timelines, which spreads the reach of the contest and potentially gains more crowd input.
One winner is chosen and receives $1 million. Lay’s has been receiving well over $1 million of earned media and word-of-mouth marketing. They also get many creative ideas for future product flavors.
As you sit and think about your content marketing strategy, never forget the importance of engaging your community as well as acknowledging their input.
Social media remains the best way for you to connect with your customers. Work together with your customers to grow your business. Do you now any other benefits of crowdsourcing you would like to share? Let me know in the comments below.
Feature Image: Stocksnap.io
In Post Images: socialmediaexaminer.com, quicksprout,com