What Is Crowdsourcing Marketing and How Is it Used?

••• Getty Images / John Lund

Crowdsourcing is using collective intelligence gathered from the public and using that information to complete business-related tasks. These tasks are normally completed by the company or a third-party service provider but through crowdsourcing the public assists in the completion of these tasks. Companies are often attracted to crowdsourcing because it expands their talent pool and is often free.

Crowdsourcing also allows a company to gain insight into their customers and what they desire. 

Businesses, entrepreneurs, and not-for-profit organizations no longer have to hire full-time or freelance workers to accomplish their goals. The Internet has given them access to the largest talent pool in the world: the crowd. 

Popular Types of Crowdsourcing 

  • Crowdfunding - Instead of looking for investors fund a project; crowdfunding allows people to raise money through an online platform. A person might make a video describing the project they want to fund and post a link to that video on a social media site. If all goes well, that person’s contacts will not only give money but also share the link to the video, encouraging their contacts to give money as well. 

  • Crowdcontests - Perhaps you need a design logo for your company, or you want to create a blog featuring short stories. So you invite people such as writers or designers to participate in a contest. The contestants will work on the project and send you their submissions. You decide which submission is the best and compensate the winner accordingly. 

  • Microtasking - Microtasking is exactly what it sounds like. You take a big task and break it up into a bunch of small tasks, which you then assign to a crowd. For example, if you have 5000 photos that need captions, you can tell the crowd that you want each person to create one caption for each photo, and you can offer to pay them X amount of dollars or cents per caption. 

    Crowdsourcing and Marketing 

    Crowdsourcing and marketing go hand in hand. You’re not only getting help from the crowd to get your project going, you’re also tapping into a potential customer base. 

    “Veronica Mars” was a popular TV series that had a very large and devoted fan base. Director and writer Rob Thomas had wanted to make a film version of “Veronica Mars” for years but was unable to raise the money on his own. 

    So he turned to Kickstarter, a popular crowdfunding platform. His initial goal was $2 million. He ended up raising $4.7 million. 

    The fans of the show were incentivized to give money in two ways. First, they were fans, and they had a vested interest in seeing the film get made. Second, people who donated a certain amount of money received tickets to the red carpet premiere of the film.  

    Things to Consider if You Want to Try Crowdsourcing 

    Figure out your objectives. What is your goal? What do you hope to achieve? 

    If the type of crowdsourcing you want to do requires a specific type of web platform, do your research. Compare different sites, and decide which one is best for you based on your objectives. 

    Be clear about your instructions. If you’re trying out microtasking or a crowdcontest, make sure your instructions are as detailed and clear as possible.

    If you give directions that are hard to understand, you could find yourself wading through a pile of submissions or work orders that don’t meet your expectations. 

    Crowdsourcing is a term that was coined in 2006 by Jeff Howe, contributing editor to Wired Magazine. He currently writes the blog CrowdSourcing.com.

    Also Known As fansourcing, crowd-casting, mass collaboration

    Other Examples: An example of CrowdSourcing is iStockPhoto. They allow amateur and professional photographers, illustrators and videographers to upload their work and earn royalties when their images or videos are bought and downloaded.