In January we went to a bison conference with the National Bison Association. One of the speakers had previously owned a marketing firm. Due to the way social media has drastically changed marketing, he closed down his business and became a bison rancher. Well, virtually a bison rancher. He owns no land and does no ranching. He outsourced and crowdsourced everything – including the bison and the ranching. He has no employees and no office. He doesn’t have any meat on hand or process any orders.
He has a website. And it is a beautiful website. What he couldn’t do himself he crowdsourced and outsourced. He literally just runs a website.
Today – ANYTHING is possible. There are no limitations to small business owners.
I love crowdsourcing. I work alone in my own business and it helps me immensely to virtually work with dozens of people. Otherwise this whole writing gig would be lonely. What exactly is crowdsourcing? Crowdsourcing appeals to the masses for help, support and word of mouth marketing. In some cases crowdsourcing uses a group of self-identified volunteers, in others it uses part-time as needed workers.
It is a collaborative brainstorm mode that enables hundreds, sometimes thousands of people to contribute their talents to a single task or project. It can use a crowdsourcing platform to connect workers to projects or jobs. As an employers you can find the kinds of workers you need, with the specific skills, and pay for only the amount of work you need done. You use nothing more, and nothing less than what you need. To crowdsource a person or company can broadcast their need to the crowd as an open call for solutions. I do this throughout the entire process of writing a book. I ask for input about the cover, subtitle, title, topic, find editors and others to help and support me as I go.
In 2006 the term crowdsourcing was coined in an article by Jeff Howe for Wired. Since then the business model of outsourcing to the crowd has grown. According to the definition of Crowdsouring on Wikipedia (a perfect example of crowdsourcing), “Crowdsourcing is the process of obtaining needed services, ideas, or content by soliciting contributions from a large group of people, and especially from an online community, rather than from traditional employees or suppliers.”
Examples of Crowdsourcing
Me: I use crowdsourcing for a variety of tasks. Sometimes my crowd is all volunteer and sometimes it is paid. My virtual assistant Jennifer Smith from EcoOffice Gals builds my websites, because those skills are outside of my wheelhouse. How did I find her? Crowdsourced! I asked around and multiple people recommended her. To top it off we had been part of a Social Media network together who cross promoted each other. I recognized her name right away. I swear she reads my mind – she is that good of a fit for me. I mostly use Twitter and Facebook to crowdsource, but there are countless platforms that can aid in crowdsourcing. Even the photograph for this blog post was crowdsourced using a fee plugin called Photodropper.
Madison Electric Products used social media marketing for new product ideas. Their social media campaign doubled website traffic, increased overall sales by 17%, and increased new product sales by 37%. Customers now drive product development for Madison Electric.
Mattel used crowdsourcing to decide what career the new Barbie doll should have.
Ben & Jerry’s had the Do the World a Flavor competition. Fans invented their own variety of the popular ice cream via an online “Creation Station.” It raised awareness for fair trade ingredients and Ben & Jerry’s received about 10,000 new flavor suggestions from the U.S. customers alone. The finalists won a trip to the Dominican Republic to see a sustainable fair trade cocoa farm. The winning flavor was produced as an official Ben & Jerry’s product.
A crowdcontest uses a crowdsource platform to identify the best worker for a single job description. Many workers propose to create the item, only one person is paid. Used for graphic design, answering questions, testing software, creating films and other creative projects. Here are a few examples of crowdcontests.
99 Designs is an organized official platform, which uses a community of 973,956 and county designers create dozens of designs for you for website startup, logo design, business cards, and more.
DesignCrowd for graphic, logo or web design with 440,832 designers to compete.
crowdSpring claims to be the world’s number one marketplace for logos, graphic design and naming.
Microtasking projects can be have each worker doing small pieces of a much larger whole, which the workers never see. A macrotask might be the creation of an analytical paper or a video. This allows you to identify the best worker for the single job.
Microvolunteering network called Sparked allow you to harness the expertise of your own network for logos, fundraising advice, copywriting, translation or code.
Radmatter is designed to allow students and professionals to prove their talent and ear recognition by solving company challenges that win them the job. Big employer hiring Radmatter students after they prove their ability.
Elance allows you to hire great freelancers including: programmers, mobile developers, designers, writers and marketers. To get a job done you can browse profiles and portfolios, collaborate in shared online work rooms and pay the freelancers all in one place.
UpWork has a pool of web developers, mobile developers, designers, writers, virtual assistants, customer service agents, sale & marketing experts and accountants & consultants. Hire, manage, and pay the online freelancer of your choice on oDesk.
Fiverr is designed to find the exact service you need, starting at five dollars. At Fiverr you can find someone to make your posts stand out, run your social media campaign, design your social media cover, build your WordPress site, boost your rank with keywords, high a brand designer, research legal topics, develop a mobile app, narrate an audiobook, write a custom business plan and more.
Microwork is a series of small tasks which together comprise a large unified project, and are completed by many people. Microtasking is the process of splitting a job into its component microwork and distributing this work over the Internet.Typical tasks offered are repetitive but not so simple that they can be automated. Good candidates for microtasks have the following characteristics. Workers are paid by task, divides big jobs into small units and enables you to use human intelligence on large complicated jobs.
Sparked is a microvolunteering network that allows you to harness the expertise of your own network for logos, fundraising advice, copywriting, translation or code.
Amazon Mechanical Turk is a marketplace for work. Gives businesses and developers access to an on-demand, scalable workforce and works are able to select from thousands of task to do whenever it is convenient to them. Includes HIT (Human Intelligence Tasks) individual taks that a worker can choose. Gives employers a 24hour 7day per week workforce.
Cloudfactory calls itself an enterprise-grade alternative to Amazon’s Mechanical Turk. Cloudfactor power core business processes and active learning algorithms for fast growing companies using cell-based workforce model plus workforce management automation. It is an API-driven workflow that combines technology and people effectively digitize, extract and capture valuable data from volumes of content including audio, video, photographic, images, text and documents.
InnoCentive is a software program for crowdsourced innovation to facilitate idea gathering, solve problems, share knowledge and promote your brand or cause.
Samasource is an enterprise service provider designed as a bridge to the global talent pool for data projects that require a human touch. Samasource will manage your microwork from start to finish.
Galaxy Zoo is a web-based citizen science project that uses efforts and abilities of volunteers who help researchers deal with the flood of data that confronts them.