Crowdsourcing: Win-Win or Lose-Lose

One of the more popular social activities between companies and
consumers is crowdsourcing. Crowdsourcing is relatively straightforward:
It’s the online distribution of certain tasks to crowds of experts and
enthusiasts. Companies use this activity to connect their brands closer to
their consumers. Involving them to the point where they almost take
ownership of the brand.

For recruitment agendas it is an effective tool for both companies and
candidates to assess fit. It can be a win-win situation, or it could be a
lose-lose. If not done carefully, it could backfire.

Let’s start with one basic principle. Nothing is really free. There needs to be some return on the invested time/brains that are contributed even if it is in the form of exposure and accolades. There are some professions out there that rely on their brains as the product or service
they have. Yet crowdsourcing can be abused and be perceived as a cheap way
to get free ideas. There are online communities out there in the creativity
where hard working designers, artists, marketers throw free work
(spec) out to posted projects from companies looking to “crowdsource” their
need out to the masses. If there was any point in which the value of “trust”
within social networks is tested, it’s here. At the least authenticity and sincerity.

Crowdsourcing works when there is a benefit for both the participant and the
host company. There needs to be a genuine commitment from both parties. The
host company that is running the crowdsourcing strategy must be clear,
upfront and most of all responsive to all the submissions from the
community. The community should be able to see the clear benefits of
participation, and should not come away feeling “used.” Their submissions
even if they are not the top selection should result in some return of
value. Whether it is exposure, job leads, etc.

There are many types of crowdsourcing techniques out there. Many that you
may not have been aware of. Actually those types are the most effective. The
ones in which you are participating without realizing you are participating.
Those happen because of the extremity of relevance. The content is of
extreme relevance for you and you are passionate about it. If it’s not
something that you are passionate about chances are the value will be too
weak for you to take time to participate.

The crowdsourced job description.
Last July you may have remembered the viral postings on the Barry Judge blog
that stirred the networks. Basically they already had a crowdsourcing
strategy in place
that involved consumers directly into their brand and
products. Well, they had a need for a Senior Manager of Emerging Media. So
they posted the job description only to find out that people had other ideas
on what the job description should be in order to move the company forward.
This became a natural progression to allow people to help write the ultimate
job description for this role. After all, the candidate they were after
should be able to construct the ultimate job description that describes who
they are and what they will do. They were also extremely clear upfront of
the expectations in what you as a participant will get back in return. Not a
job…no the legal hounds would be having press conferences as we speak. The
winner is the job description with the most votes. And they get…exposure. In
result, the twittersphere and blogging networks cluttered the web about a job at Best Buy. A great example that demonstrates that a major ingredient of a successful crowdsourcing campaign is in direct relevance to the strength of the social activity.

And lastly, we can’t forget the fact that companies need crowdsourcing approaches internally to foster a healthy collaborative culture. The difference is that the relevancy is aligned to the overall mission and goals of the company, and the payoff goes without saying how it can be tied to employee incentives and a highly successful organization.

So think about what your latest contribution of intellect or skill was. Why did you participate?

TMP Worldwide
Written by TMP Worldwide

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