This Old-School Marketing Tactic is Far from Dead — And Yields Large Rewards

Even though things seem to change at an alarmingly quick rate, they will continue to improve even faster. Today technology makes it easy to problem solve and continue to come up with new business ideas. Speaking of coming up with new business ideas, heard of crowdsourcing? This “old-school” marketing tactic may have sprung up in the 1990s and even as early as the 1700s, but today it continues to be a powerful way for companies to come up with ideas and improve existing products and services. Let’s see what the many benefits of crowdsourcing are.

What is crowdsourcing? According to the founder of Crowdsourcing Week, Epi Ludvik, who Entrepreneur interviewed for the article, crowdsourcing is an incredible way to collect ideas for a company or cause. See what else he has to say about crowdsourcing and its many benefits below:

I’ve always said that crowdsourcing is about passions, talents, skills and tangible resources facilitated by high tech platforms. Crowdsourcing can take place on many different levels and across various industries. Thanks to our growing connectivity, it is now easier than ever for individuals to collectively contribute ideas, time, expertise or funds to a project or cause. This collective mobilization is called crowdsourcing.

The future is human-centric. It’s all about participation and the ability to co-create via an increasingly connected world. This new way of doing things (crowdsourcing, crowdfunding, co-creation, collaboration and open innovation) is challenging established business models and how companies work across the board. It offers an immense opportunity to rethink and reinvent conventional processes.

ThriveHive recommends using crowdsourcing to get some excellent ideas for your business. Since information travels fast using social media and other online forms of communication has serious advantages. Use it to not only get new ideas but feedback on products or services.

One of the benefits of crowdsourcing is that it is an efficient way of getting relevant information and ideas for your business. In today’s digital age of social media and technology, information travels fast among users. Using social media or other types of digital communication as a source of crowdsourcing is a fast way to get new ideas, feedback, and information on your business and services.

Crowdsourcing is also a great way to engage people. By virtue of its function, crowdsourcing engages a business with current and potential customers to get their feedback. It provides a way for businesses to engage one-on-one with existing and potential customers and listen to them. Customers want to be heard and crowdsourcing is a great way for small businesses to make a customer feel valued!

As I’m Not Actually a Geek points out below, receiving feedback from various audiences helps bridge the gap in social networks. In other words, use crowdsourcing to your advantage, and creating a successful business becomes all the more attainable.

Cognitive diversity clearly has a significant positive effect on problem-solving. Generally, when something has proven value to outcomes, companies adopt it as a key operating principle. Yet getting this diversity has not proven to be as easy and common as one might expect.

Why?

Strong weak no ties because it’s dependent on human behavior. Left to our own devices, we tend to turn to our close connections for advice and feedback. These strong ties are the core of our day-in, day-out interactions.

But this natural human tendency to turn to our strong ties is why companies are challenged to leverage their cognitive diversity. University of Chicago Professor Ron Burt describes the issue as one of the structural holes between nodes in a corporate social network in his paper, Structural Holes and Good Ideas. A structural hole is a gap between different groups in the organization. Information does not flow across structural holes.

In and of themselves, structural holes are not the problem. Rather, the issue is that when people operate primarily within their own node, their information sources are redundant. Over time, the people in the node know the same facts, develop the same assumptions and optimize to work together in harmony. Sort of like a silo of social ties.

The impact of this is a severe curtailment of fresh thinking, which impacts the quality of ideas. Professor Burt found empirical evidence for this in a study of Raytheon’s Supply Chain Group. 673 employees were characterized by their social network connections, plotting them on a spectrum from insular to diverse. These employees then provided one idea to improve supply chain management at Raytheon. Their ideas were then assessed by two senior executives.

The results? Employees with more diverse social connections provided higher quality ideas. To the right is a graph of the rated ideas, with a curve based on the average idea ratings versus the submitter’s level of network diversity. The curve shows that with each increase in the diversity of a person’s connections, the higher the value of their idea.

Employees with access to diverse sources of information provided better ideas.  Their access to nonredundant information allowed them to generate more novel, higher potential ideas. Inside organizations, there are employees who excel at making diverse connections across the organization. These people are the ones who will provide better ideas. They are brokers across the structural holes in social networks.

Forbes cites a study that the University of Washington did and how a protein folding game named Foldit helped them delve deeper into players’ thoughts and opinions on their actions and experiences.  

A few years back a team at the University of Washington took cues from both the phenomenon of massively multiplayer online role playing games and the concept of crowdsourcing scientific problems and developed Foldit, a protein folding game. Foldit presents protein folding as a visual or spatial challenge to the player, whose goal is basically to arrange an on-screen protein into the smallest possible shape that obeys all the game’s rules.

By studying what people did to rack up high scores in Foldit, we may be able to improve how well computers alone work in this domain. As the authors write, “More in-depth analysis of player strategies should provide further insight … and could lead to improved automation algorithms for protein structure prediction.” I’ll go a big step beyond that statement: It could be that studying how people succeed at Foldit might help us better understand not only computer simulation of protein folding, but perhaps also protein folding itself.

The Foldit team did science that was both rigorous and creative, and they deserve at least as much attention they’re getting. They also deserve credit for realizing that when faced with a nasty problem, the smart approach is not always to retrench–to rely more heavily on established experts and powerful computers.

Instead, when the tools needed for effective problem solving can be widely and cheaply distributed, the responsibility for problem solving can also be. And as Foldit results and lots of other evidence shows, expertise–for problem solving, innovation, etc.–is emergent. It’s out there in large quantities, and in hard-to-predict places. A problem solving approach that lets pockets of enthusiasm and expertise manifest themselves and find each other can yield surprisingly large rewards, even in the unlikeliest places.

It’s incredible to consider how powerful crowdsourcing is, which is why Entrepreneur believes it to be bigger than a regular movement. Getting feedback from an audience will aid companies in surprising ways by helping them become bigger and better.

Crowdsourcing is bigger than a movement. In the decades to come, it will be the new DNA of our society in the digital and physical world. I’m a strong believer in the world of abundance. It bothers me that we are still fighting wrong fights simply because we are stuck with old mindsets. Today, the global economy runs on the basis of scarcity and fear. These mindsets are lethal for society. Crowdsourcing can be a great enabler to move us toward the well-being of every human on earth, simply by looking to the crowd for supply.

As a way of engaging people, many crowdsourcing platforms employ challenges to participate in as often as you like. This exposes participants to various different problems. This can enhance adaptability and problem-solving skills. As I’ve said many times, crowdsourcing is about passions, talents, skills and tangible resources. Early this year, Women of NASA creator Maia Weinstock inspired a new generation with a LEGO toy, and in just two months, her creation was sold out on Amazon. Keep in mind that Maia’s background is in science journalism, and she is currently the deputy editor of MIT News. Now we can start to think about other possibilities with crowdsourcing.

So, do you have a concept that needs flushing out, a rough idea that needs polish, or a problem that needs solving? Crowdsourcing could be the answer you’ve been looking for. See you at the top of the world!

Crowdsourcing has many, many benefits, and you should use it to your advantage. Want to know other digital marketing techniques you can use to your advantage? Learn how to build a successful and profitable online business by joining us during our next free webinar training. We can’t wait to see you there!

Sources: Forbes, I’m Not Actually a Geek, Entrepreneur, ThriveHive

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