Effective marketing is all about connecting with your audience, right? You want your brand to resonate with your target market -- for your potential customers to feel like your product or service is not just another purchase but valuable part of their lives. Your web content is one of your most effective tools to reach out to your potential customers, but how do you make sure it is helping you establish a good connection? The answer might be simpler than you think: Let your current customers help.
What IS Crowdsourcing?
"Crowdsourcing" is "the practice of obtaining needed services, ideas, or content by soliciting contributions from a large group of people and especially from the online community rather than from traditional employees or suppliers." Cookbooks compiled of recipes sent in by everyone in an office or church group were early forms of crowdsourcing! In modern practice, Wikipedia is one of the most extensive examples of online crowdsourced content: readers each contribute knowledge to one database, which is edited and compiled by other volunteers.
For your business, crowdsourcing means reaching out through your social media platforms, mailing lists, customer support forums, or other virtual connections. Don't be afraid to reach out to ask your online community to help you crowsource content for your brand -- chances are good that your connections already like you and your brand, or they wouldn't be connected to you!
What Do I Ask My Connections For?
Your existing customers can provide you with valuable information about who they are and what they love. You can ask your connections to provide feedback on potential product ideas, design choices, slogans, marketing campaigns... basically anything that will eventually be presented to the public. In this sense, crowdsourcing is essentially using your existing connections as a giant focus group for your marketing ideas. This can influence your content indirectly by helping you figure out what does and what does not resonate.
If you have passionate fans, they might also want to create content to post to your website or share on your social media pages, enhancing your content directly. Whether in the form of videos, blog posts, or testimonials, this content can have just the right personal touch for your audience and convey exactly why your fans love your brand. Some kinds of content that are ideal for crowdsourcing include
- Photos or videos that relate to your audience using your product, e.g., vacation pictures taken with a camera purchased from your retail store or while wearing your one-of-a-kind jewelry creations or videos of a cross-country roadtrip in your brand of car
- Before and after pictures that relate to your service, e.g., clogged gutters on a home before your service and clean afterward, a video tour of a kitchen before and after your completed remodeling (and maybe during the process)
- Creative ideas for new products or models, e.g., new flavors, colors, patterns or other variations of your existing products (like name-the-new-potato-chip-flavor contests).
How Do I Encourage Crowdsourced Content?
Especially if your brand is still small, encouraging your fans to make and submit content can take some prompting. One of the easist ways is to ask -- and offer incentives! Create a project, poll, or contest to encourage your community members to participate and submit or vote on content. Offer discounts on your services or products, or special-edition products, to community members who submit content. Consider establishing a program of brand ambassadors to act as the front lines in your army of die-hard fans and trusted content creators.
Incentives like cash rewards are great, but other incentives like being able to name your new product or flavor are enticing and cost effective. Having a contest to submit and vote on the next ice cream flavor or nail polish color both involves your audience and saves internal creative resources!
Finally, be personable. Large companies that seem to have a good sense of humor and personality in social media interactions (and graceful responses to the near-inevitable social media missteps) develop a loyal following that strengthens their brand.
Crowdsourcing can be a great way to obtain content and gather marketing research for your organization. Blue Frog can help you develop a content marketing strategy that includes crowdsourcing ideas and other social media management strategies. Contact us to talk about how we can assist with a broad range of marketing needs and help you build brand awareness for your company.