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Crowd Sourcing: Engaging Your Audience

May 15, 2010

Prior to the raging popularity of You Tube, video crowd sourcing became a popular way for families and would-be cinematographers to get their moment of fame shown on such popular TV shows as America’s Funniest Videos.  Once the broadband issue was resolved, allowing people to upload videos to the Internet, it opened the floodgates for video sharing, just one type of crowdsourcing.

Perceived benefits of crowdsourcing include:

  • Problems can be explored at comparatively little cost, and often very quickly.
  • Payment is by results or even omitted
  • The organization can tap a wider range of talent than might be present in its own organization.
  • By listening to the crowd, organizations gain first-hand insight on their customers’ desires.
  • The community may feel a brand-building kinship with the crowdsourcing organization, which is the result of an earned sense of ownership through contribution and collaboration.

Enterprising organizations, faced with lower budgets and a desire for greater audience engagement, are encouraging amateur videographers to produce videos addressing their critical issues.  This has become a low-cost way to get high-quality videos produced, and you pay for them only if you use them.

 Among many federal government agencies and some non-profits, the idea for video crowdsourcing has gone viral itself, via contests that pay a cash stipend to the best video idea. 

 The Environmental Protection Agency, for example, created a PSA contest with the winner getting $2,500, and a chance for their PSA to be shown both online and at their annual conference.  This was followed by another EPA PSA contest dedicated to water quality, which received over 200 entries.

The EPA sees this as an opportunity to lower production costs, get the public to participate in spreading their messages, and at the same time create messages which resonate with the public.

The Alliance to Save Energy, another environmental protection organization, staged a video contest that offered winners $5,000, with private sector firms donating the cash, as well as other premium items, to leading entrants.

Getting Greater Mileage

If there is any limitation to what has been done so far with video contests, it’s that most of the PSAs and video clips have had a fairly limited audience, relying mostly on You Tube, where they must compete against hundreds of thousands of other video clips. 

Since many of these video clips were produced as PSAs, or could be edited down to PSA lengths, they could be easily and inexpensively distributed to the media, thus getting much more mileage and exposure.  Using our CablePAK shared reel distribution service, for example, would typically generate $750,000 in verified ad equivalency value, with the PSAs being used in 41 states, 147 cities and on 155 stations.

Beyond videos, there are numerous other applications for crowdsourcing, such as enlisting volunteers, developing idea communities, and product/service testing.  Some companies, such as IdeaScale, WhyzeGroup, and Inno Centive, specialize in delivering crowds, so that you can instantly tap into a pre-select group of people who want to participate in your idea or project.

One firm, Imaginatik, has developed something called IdeaCentral Mobile, which solicits ideas from employees and stakeholders that can be loaded to smartphones or other handheld devices with web browser capabilities.

This idea engages audiences on the move, allows them to keep abreast of new ideas, offer ideas of  their own, and enjoy secure access.

“Despite the jargon name, crowdsourcing is a very real and important business idea,” says Jennifer Alsever, the author of What is Crowdsourcing?

“The idea is to tap into the collective intelligence of the public to complete tasks a company would normally either perform itself or outsource to a third-party provider. More importantly, it enables managers to expand the size of their talent pool while also gaining deeper insight into what stakeholders really want,” she said.

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