Once you have developed content that your brand can be proud of, the next logical step is promoting it and doing what you can to drive your business even further with a killer marketing strategy. If you’ve already started some of the popular marketing strategies are now asking what's next, you may want to consider crowdsourcing and how it can play an essential role in moving your content marketing in a good direction.
In case you are not already aware, crowdsourcing is the process of obtaining much-needed services, ideas, and/or content by asking for contributions from a large pool of people.
This usually comes from an online community rather than from traditional employees or suppliers you might generally solicit from your industry, so it’s a creative way to step out of your comfort zone and work closer with your community.
Get Serious with Crowdsourcing
The great thing about crowdsourcing is that it is not restricted to one industry whatsoever – it's being harnessed by a variety of organizations and institutions looking to gather new knowledge and participation from online contributors and their community.
Even when not purposefully crowdsourcing, some businesses are using it unknowingly, so it is a great aspect to observe and actually implement into a strategy. Crowdsourcing uses existing members of the online community to develop content, which is associated with your site. The benefit of this is that you are able to achieve a voice from several different places and people, or an “undefined public” as opposed to one specific organization. Visitors and users of your brand’s platform will connect with this type of content on a new level, and it has shown to be very successful across multiple industries, which you can learn more about here.
If you’re really looking to get into detail about crowdsourcing, this hour-long webinar discusses "Crowdsourcing Fundamentals" along with two case studies of successful crowdsourcing projects from cultural institutions. It teaches you to utilize a crowdsourcing strategy in your existing marketing plan, learn the basics about implementing crowdsourcing techniques, securing funding, engaging users, and assessing the quality of crowd-sourced data, so it’s a great resource if you’re just getting started.
Some Examples of Crowdsourced Content
One of the easiest ways to understand crowdsourcing is be looking at a few examples. Again, you’ll probably recognize a few of these because they are already a part of your strategy, but remember you can use more than one crowdsourcing technique! The biggest examples include:
1. Guest posting. This is a perfect example of crowdsourcing content. For those not aware, guest posting involves writing and publishing an article on someone else’s website or blog. It builds relationships, is great for search engines, and ultimately introduces you to a whole new crowd of people.
2. Purchase custom created content. If you want to purchase content or accept a guest article that is written by someone else but is unique to the web, this is also one way to crowdsource. Basically how it works is you specifically ask for what you need in terms of content and then someone will create that content for you. List.ly is a good place to find freelance writers and others who can help make this a possibility.
3. Extra: Purchase pre-written content. This isn’t always advised, but there are systems online where someone has already written a piece of content and then you can buy it. Most of the time the writer requires you to give credit to him/her. List.ly is also a good place to find pre-created content.
4. Use a simple voting model. If you are looking for a solution to a marketing question, or the next big step for your brand, why not ask the community of experts at your fingertips? By using an online voting platform, you can connect with your existing or targeted audience to help you decide the next big move you will make. You can also give a lot of credit to your followers once you employ the strategy they suggest, and make the crowd that participated feel really valued. Using this information or simply publishing the voting results is all considered crowdsourcing because your online community helped.
5. Achieve funding for a project. This overlaps a little bit with crowdfunding, where you use your online community to help you make money for your project (Kickstarter is a huge crowdfunding platform). One example from the film industry in the UK used crowdsourcing to help fund, make, contribute and distribute a £1 million feature film using the Internet and all digital technologies. They used crowdsourcing to recruit community members with the right expertise into paid project members, film crew, and production staff.
The Benefits of Crowdsourcing
In each of the cases described above, your brand would be connecting with at least one, if not multiple, new people. This leads to major growth and exposure that you wouldn’t have if you kept everything contained to your existing staff and website. A few more of the top reasons to crowdsource your content include:
- It speeds up the process of content creation.
- You get new voices on your blog.
- It can bring a new audience to your site.
- It can create more loyal customers.
- You get more diverse content.
- You will be able to use metrics to see what content your audience really likes.
- Determine where your content strategy needs to move in the future.
A Word of Crowdsourcing Caution: It is clear that there are many benefits to crowdsourcing, but you also have to be careful that the content you are getting is quality. Always (always) edit and proof each piece of content that you post to your site, and check any links that they embed within the piece. While it may be an effective way to produce content, you still have to put in your part. After all, it will be associated with your brand.
This is especially important to pay attention to if you’re working with a unique niche. Crowdsourcing your content is a great option if you work in niches that involve a lot of persona stories, but unfortunately when you are having someone else produce content for your website they may not put in as much effort as you or your employees would, but it’s your responsibility to be a good editor and moderator.
To get started you need to find the right topic and the right writers, and then you need incorporate this new system into your existing content marketing strategy. Remember, just because you are using crowdsourcing (and all of the benefits that come with it) does not mean you should abandon the initial content marketing that you were doing. This is just another (awesome) piece to add to your puzzle.
Do you have experience with crowdsourcing? Have you used any platforms to find quality content writers? We would love to hear from you, so let us know in the comments section below.