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Today,  I’m conducting an experiment to see if I can make an unknown book by a new author reach the Amazon Kindle Top 100.

I’ve asked all friends, colleagues, family and the digital marketing community to help me promote the digital version of my book, Free Stuff Everyday.

If it works, it’ll be further evidence that crowd sourced marketing can be a highly effective way to spread awareness of a product as well as gaining feedback and support from your community.

You can read more on my challenge and take part via the Koozai blog. But this got me thinking about some other great examples of crowdsourced marketing that you can use in your own campaigns, and that’s what I present for you today.

Set up a trello board

Trello is an excellent platform for project management and keeping track of the development of your projects. What is really nice about it is that you can share your project roadmap online – as Distilled do with their Distilledu project.

They ask users for feedback on the project, and by showing what they are working on it’s a very transparent way to crowdsource this type of feedback.

DistilledU

Crowdfunding

Probably the most well known type of crowdsourcing, crowdfunding involves asking your community to fund your next project.

One excellent project is Penny Arcade, who have asked their fans to pay for them to run the site advert free with donations via Kickstarter. This then allows the site organisers more time to create content, which the community can suggest.

It’s a very clever way of having a “paywall” without actually blocking any content.

penny Arcade

Kickstarter is coming to the UK soon, but for now you can use Crowdfunder.

Use surveys

The Econsultancy team use this tactic very well, sending out surveys to their members and asking for feedback. What is great about these surveys is that the data is given away for free to those who take part.

It’s a nice added bonus that saves the participants money and is a clear reward for completing the survey.

Econsultancy Survey

Ask a question on social media

You’ve spent years growing your Twitter following and *days* doing it on Google+, so you may as well make the most of them.

The kings of Google+, Cadbury, do this really well. When they launched “Larry Page” and “Sergey Bing” Google chocolate bars to celebrate Cadbury’s arrival on Google+ the community were very vocal they wanted their own versions.

Cadbury's

So Cadbury did just that, and now you can get personalised chocolate bars. Even better, the company is running a test on their Google+ users who will be the first to be able to buy them. Not a bad way to gain ideas from and reward your community.

Create an event

One of the quickest ways to reach all of your followers, and ensure there is a good chance they will see your message is to make an event and then invite everyone to it.

Thanks to a very quick JavaScript hack you can invite your entire friends list to an event in Facebook. So if you want to gather a lot of people together to complete a task on a given day – such as a flashmob – this is a very good way to do it.

If you make it a public event, then people can invite more people and the reach of your crowdsourcing project grows.

Facebook Challenge

As I wanted to reach my entire friends list for my challenge I did exactly that. I created a Facebook event and then invited all of my friends to help. People I hadn’t seen for years pledged their support and now I have another group to help on the day.

Export your LinkedIn list

Another fantastic, yet underused resource are LinkedIn lists. I was really surprised to see that every time someone accepts you on LinkedIn you can actually see their email address.

Better still, if you choose “Contacts” from the top menu you can export a list of everyone’s details.

LinkedIn

It even separates first name, last name and email so you could use mail merge trickery to contact your entire LinkedIn network in one go.

I wouldn’t recommend that unless you already get on well with someone – a personal email will likely go further – but no matter what strategy you use it is possible to build up a strong list to ask to help with crowdsourcing projects.

Put human contact details on everything

Crowdsourcing doesn’t always have to be aggressive, something as passive as always including a person’s name and email address is a nice way to get community feedback and appear like a personal company.

Moz Top 10

SEOmoz runs a Top 10 email each month where it picks the best articles from the digital marketing community. To help improve the list, and get suggestions for future issues SEOmoz lists Erica and her email address at the bottom of every email.

I emailed Erica an article I had written and got a great reply and it was included in a future list. She listened to the community and rewarded participation.

Make people fight for you

As I write this the first Women’s football match is about the kick off the Olympics, and yet all my Twitter feed is talking about is Paddy Power and its amazing “London” Olympic adverts.

These adverts were always designed to court controversy and when the company was threatened by a law suit from LOCOG it played right in to its hands.

Paddy Power

It took to twitter asking people to support them with the hashtag #dontbanPaddy and sure enough people started sharing the hashtag and it got lots of support for them. Paddy Power crowdsourced  fans to help them out, and it is working amazingly.

Have people compete

Why hire one designer to create work for you when you could have hundreds compete and only pay for the best one?

That’s the concept behind 99 Designs and it’s an excellent way to crowdsource ideas. Zooppa takes this even further with competitions with huge cash prizes for the best submission, and it's been used by Amazon, Google, Microsoft and lots more.

Zoppaa

WB Games are currently using Zooppa to find music for the next Harry Potter game and will pay $15,000 to the best submission. Anyone can take part too. There’s also Crowdspring where you can crowdsource designs, with the typical project getting a whopping 110 applicants.

Build questionnaires into your website

If I’m already on your website then I have a passing interest in your brand, which means it’s a great time to ask me questions and get feedback.

There are two solutions that I’d recommend - http://getsatisfaction.com/ or http://www.kissinsights.com/. As you can compile any feedback you get into charts and compare data you get strong insights. Plus it only takes each customer seconds to help, but the combined data is really useful.

KISS

KISS insights decided to create a nice paradox by using a KISS survey on the website to find ways to improve KISS. It was the perfect way to find out what their community wanted, and a very good proof of concept.

Go where the community already is

If you don’t have a strong community already but want to crowdsource the opinion of passionate people within your niche then you can always find existing networks and forums and ask for feedback.

Poptent is a network for video creators, and people can post videos and get feedback from the group. For writers there is the Amazon KDP community and there’s lots more.

V8

You can also use these communities in interesting ways. V8 asked the Poptent community to describe what they loved about the V8 drink. It received 98 submissions, which can be used as product research or in future marketing campaigns.

Use your existing community

You could also build a community for your users and give them a voice there. That’s what Squidoo did with Squidu a community forum. At any point the designers of Squidoo can look on the forum and see what their users really think.

LEGO Cussoo

Lego is even better at this, giving customers the power to propose and vote on future Lego sets via the Cuusoo website. So far, three sets have been produced based on recommendations, including one based on the video game Minecraft, with another on the video game Portal 2 being reviewed now.

Track me, any way you want me

Hurrah! The Cookie Law didn’t destroy the web for tracking tools. Which is lucky, because they provide an excellent opportunity to compile user stats. Most people are already doing crowdsourcing without realising it.

Every time you go in to Google Analytics and look at data sets you are looking at what groups of customers want. You can then see what your most popular pages are, and then react based on that.

Clicktale

Another excellent tool is Clicktale which tracks user movement on your site. You can create heat maps and watch videos of how people use your website. Compiling this data together means you can look for areas of weakness and make improvements.

Collect and combine user feedback

You can buy an army of users fairly quickly to gather feedback on pretty much anything via Mechanical Turk. For a more expensive, but arguably better service, sites like User Testing.com and whatusersdo.com let you get user feedback from thirdrd parties on your website.

C1

Citroen took this entire concept to an extreme with an app that lets users crowdsource the design of the new C1 city car.

Last but not least, there is Peter Molyneux’s Curiosity, an experiment where users chip away at a virtual box to get at the contents inside. His team will be using the data from this, and 21 other app experiments to build a new video game.

Crowdsource this post!

Of course no post on crowdsourcing would be complete without asking for you to add your own examples in the comments. That way we can crowdsource an even better resource about crowdsourcing.

Take part in a live crowdsourcing experiment

And if you’d like to help with my crowdsourcing experiment that’s in progress right now you can on the Koozai blog. I’ll be revealing the results when it’s all over too in an effort to give people a better understanding of how crowdsourcing can work.

Mike Essex

Published 27 July, 2012 by Mike Essex

Mike Essex is Online Marketing Manager at Koozai Ltd and a contributor to Econsultancy. Follow him on Twitter

7 more posts from this author

Comments (4)

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Charlie Oakham

Some fantastic advice there Mike!

almost 4 years ago

dan barker

dan barker, E-Business Consultant at Dan Barker

Thanks for this, Mike.

The LinkedIn tip is really useful - I didn't know you could export.

dan

almost 4 years ago

Mike Essex

Mike Essex, Marketing & Comms Manager at Petrofac

Thanks Dan, yeah the export is great. Although sometimes people put their email as linked@company.com to catch out people who scrape the list.

You should check the emails to remove any like this, and also you have to go for very person and tailored emails as bulk emails sent via this way tend to get ignored / flagged as spam.

almost 4 years ago

Avatar-blank-50x50

William

So I'll take the tip on going where the community already is ;) Another way to do it is to crowdsource the marketing plan itself like what we're doing with PieceWise. We've put up a $1,000 prize for ideas/votes on ideas to help create our marketing plan (https://piecewise.com/Marketing-Project.

over 3 years ago

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