Tag Archives: crowd

Getting Beyond Top-Voted Ideas & Harnessing the Collective Wisdom of the Crowd

image curtesy of Ben Terret via flickr

image curtesy of Ben Terret via flickr

Suzan Briganti, CEO & Founder, Totem Inc. and IdeaScale Advisory Partner

Crowdsourcing is based on the idea that under certain conditions, crowds can be wiser than experts. Some collection platforms focus solely on ideas that receive the highest number of votes. But do top-rated ideas really capture the full wisdom of the crowd?

What are the collective patterns in crowd ideas? Totem has been analyzing the collective patterns in crowdsourcing campaigns for three years now, and the results are astonishing. Here are some amazing crowd-discovered accomplishments:      

- Crowds identified an innovation “white space” for a global beer conglomerate that had gone undetected – despite millions of dollars of R&D.
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Crowds have powered a development roadmap for one of the leading tech firms in the world.
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And crowds are envisioning the strategic plan in 2030 for a major UK university.

However, oftentimes, lists of  top-rated ideas do not capture such collective patterns in crowd campaigns. Nor is the simple post-and-vote approach designed to do so!  These accomplishments didn’t emerge simply by plucking the ideas with the highest votes. What do you do after idea collection? What begins as ideas need refinement so that various stakeholders can understand and evaluate them. Why?

Because crowds express their ideas in a wide variety of forms and degrees of finish. One idea may be stated in a single line of text. Another idea is a mini-business plan. And a third may be submitted as a video. How can you evaluate ideas expressed in such disparate formats? Idea conversion is the key, so that you are evaluating ideas apples-to-apples.

There is an art to expressing an idea this way. Totem has delivered top-scoring, test-ready concepts to diverse clients – concepts that have gone on to impressive market success.

Beyond ideas to crowd insights Ideas are extremely important, but are just part of the innovation process. Where do ideas fit in? An idea typically proposes a solution, but to what problem? There are a few questions that should be asked of every idea:      

What problem is the idea solving, and for whom?
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Is the problem widely experienced?
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Is the problem associated with a mild or intense pain point?
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Can your organization solve the problem?

Identifying problems worth solving can increase your innovation ROI by up to 50 percent. Why? Because otherwise you can spend millions developing a solution to a problem that is only experienced by a niche market, or that your customers see as “nice to have,” but not worth paying for. We state such problems as “insights.” Crowds have generated fresh insights that can power entire innovation pipelines for years – as new solutions become feasible.

To summarize: Voting is a valuable way to view your crowd ideas, and will remain an important one. But to get the full value from crowdsourcing, you need to harness the crowd’s collective wisdom, convert ideas so they can be evaluated apples-to-apples, and also capture crowd insights.

Tune into the upcoming webinar with Suzan Briganti, CEO & Founder, Totem, Inc. and IdeaScale Advisory Partner on Tuesday April, 29th at 10am PST for an introduction to crowd analysis, idea normalization and insight development. Increase your innovation success rate by up to 50 percent. Register now.

5 Things to Consider When Launching a Crowdsourcing Campaign

btaylorThis article is a guest post by Bradley Taylor. Bradley Taylor is a freelance writer from Derby, England, UK who writes about all aspects of the automotive industry (among other subjects). You can connect with Bradley on Twitter and Google+.

Crowdsourcing campaigns are very effective for developing project attention; whether it is related to a business idea, personal interest, political statement, or something else. Here are five measures you should consider in order to host an effective crowdsourcing campaign.

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1. Your project objective

You need to be certain your idea is worth pursuing before commencing a crowdsourcing campaign. You need to carry out research to work out if your campaign will excite and interest a wide range of people. Has something similar already been done before? If something akin to your idea has already occurred, you need to work out how you can transform your idea into something unique which will help you be the signal in the noise. For example, if your project is related to the motoring industry, it is worth bearing in mind that other manufacturers such as Mazda and MG have offered incentives such as test drives for their products in order to generate publicity and consumer interest. Therefore, you would need to tailor your project to offer something extra and unique which these competitors have not yet attempted.

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2. Identify your market

If you cannot identify a sustainable and profitable target market to which you can direct your crowdsourcing campaign, then no one will participate in your project or buy your product. Identify a target market for your product or campaign and, if possible, tailor certain elements of your project or product to be more accessible towards your target market. Plan the presentation of your project to these prospective supporters, explaining why it would be beneficial for them to participate.

3. Appeal to your crowdsourcing community

Your crowdsourcing community is fundamental to the overall success of your enterprise. Analyze how different crowds react to your campaign idea and pay attention to the topics in which they appear most interested. All of this initial research is vital in order for you to engage relevant communities in your campaign. This will ensure you are targeting the right community for your project’s needs, and improves the chances of your initiative being remembered as unique and engaging. Your crowdsourcing community is the backbone of you campaign. If they are invested and captivated by your idea, they will help you generate a great deal of interest and thus exponentially improve both the publicity and profits of your campaign.

4. Continuous engagement with your supporters

A vast amount of crowdsourcing campaigns start out enthusiastically with an injection of interest from supporters, then only to fizzle out quickly which results in a failed campaign. In order for your campaign to succeed you need to capture supporter interest and then sustain it, keeping in regular contact with your supporters so that they are aware your campaign is still ongoing and so that they can become more engaged once more. This continued contact will convey to your supporters your emotional investment within your campaign, thus encouraging others to develop interest and excitement about your project and share it. This ongoing connection with your supporters elevates both its real world and online publicity, incorporating a vast audience into your project.

5. Capitalize upon social networks

Online social networking is the lifeblood of any crowdsourcing campaign. Create a website for your campaign and link it to all of your social networking sites; Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, even image based sites such as Instagram and Pinterest. By uniting all of your various social networking followers, you can generate a great deal of online traffic towards your campaign, thus massively increasing online awareness to, and subsequent interest in, your project.

The Crowd and the Mob

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If you read this blog, then you know that we are fully invested in what the crowd has to say and offer. From new brand ideas, to charitable giving and fundraising to breakthroughs in science and technology. But there are, of course, those who rightfully ask how much wisdom a crowd really has to offer, offering instead “when does a crowd become a mob?” I picture one of the closing sequences in Disney’s Beauty and the Beast where the entire town gathers around Gaston who brandishes his torch through the night, casting huge cartoon shadows across the snowy front yard, telling everyone that the Beast will come after them and their children and as one the whole town appears to be persuaded, raising their pitchforks in the air and stomping off on a crusade to the castle singing “Kill the beast!”

A truly bad call on the part of that crowd and one that is, mercifully, rectified by the end of the Disney film.

Whenever soliciting opinions en masse, one hopes that they are listening to the democratic wisdom of the crowd and not the voice of the mob. So how can we tell the difference? How do you build a successful campaign?

In a recent SF Weekly article, Dan Mitchell cites three recent examples of the crowd speaking with the voice of reason: SOPA, the recent response to the Komen Foundation, and the panicked retreat away from Rush Limbaugh on the part of his sponsors. These aren’t exactly crowdsourced solutions or suggestions, so much as they are public reactions, but they nonetheless illustrate some important facets that should be engaged when looking to the crowd.

An engaged audience that really cares is sometimes the best source of knowledge. Employees of a company for example, are oftentimes hugely invested in the growth of a company and its bottom line. Fans of a brand (particularly fanatical fans) are eager to protect a brand that they know and love and actually want to be a part of it. Their responses are more likely be thoughtful and thought-provoking.

Momentum. This case study by the Online Journalism Blog looks at the qualities of a successful crowdsourced investigation and ends up talking about the importance of reminders, reaching out, and developing conversation (among many other things) so that one person’s engagement builds on another in a productive way that leads to a desired outcome. The report stated “That this turned out to be a significant factor in driving activity suggests one important lesson: talking publicly and regularly about the investigation’s progress was key to its activity and success.”

Good organizational response. As we discussed in our Network Intelligence white paper, the responsibility of any organization relying on a response from the crowd is to evaluate those suggestions and innovations and make sense of them and then respond to them quickly and efficiently.

These are just a few starting points. What are some other ways that one can speak to the enlightened crowd and not just the angry mob? What are some other crowdsourcing success stories?