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Crowdsourcing

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A World of Public Ideas

With an internet connection, a gadget,search know-how, and an interest in an idea – any idea – it is incredibly easy to find articles, forums and multimedia content. Doing something with the content is where more meaning is generated. Rating and sharing content, funding the initiatives behind content, and commenting on and remixing content… all these actions that link interests with personal skill and expertise convey the broad scope of crowdsourcing.

There are millions of distinct interests, too many to pin down. But by navigating up to a higher level we can see that the modern networked audience is not passive. People want to do something with content. Our instinct is that this itch to do something with content besides consuming it passively is what makes social platforms like Visual.ly, Vizify and Storify, Instagram, Imgur, Reddit, Vine, Tumblr so incredibly successful. In a forthcoming post we’ll talk more about the way modern values are shaping perceptions and expectations about the internet. Also, by doing so we can speak more easily about crowdsourcing in business and the public sector.

Shifted expectations

In this day and age, many people want to do something more than simply reading news, buying items and finding deals online or reading about celebrity culture. Sure, people still want to do those things, but for the massive user generating content-creator audience there is a hunger for something else: identification, membership, peer recognition…and more. The crowdsourcing of ideas by large institutions represent the oft-cited example. And yet crisis and live crime reporting, mass collaborative image sharing from disaster events are also a form of crowdsourcing.

The vast number of episodic examples where the networked capacity of crowds has effected real change we believe represents a larger theme: not only have we have witnessed a massive change in media, our expectations about what media can do have changed, and are constantly changing. The message we’d like to leave you with is that seemingly disparate trends about mass collaboration and the force these changes represent for brands of all size, both in the public and private sectors is this: the opportunity should not be wasted.

Leveraging Excitement

Crowdsourcing was coined by two journalists working at Wired magazine nearly a decade ago in a 2005 Wired article entitled, The Rise of Crowdsourcing. A longer form whitepaper by Jeff Howe can be found here. Since that article Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIN have grown to become the central platforms on which people are spending many hours of their lives. What can crowdsourcing do for your brand? The answer is not that hard to see if you spend any amount of time on Twitter these days.

The rise of twitter chats, live streaming web services and Google hangouts were discussed in a previous post on live social media. These mass peer-to-peer media altogether represent one of the most useful forms of community generation, brand reputation and content marketing today. The further benefit of these crowdsourcing media that can be addressed because we’ve talked about modern audience expectations is that crowdsourcing media satisfies the active-rather-than-passive media-itch that many people possess. Thus, crowdsourcing represents not merely a trendy new tactic for brands to implement. Doing tweetchats, setting up webinars, live streaming are all characteristic of modern socially-embedded brands.

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