Crowd-sourcing- Effective way to engage & excite your fans to create value.

As social media continues to become a main stream channel for marketers, brands are constantly trying to come up with ways to involve their fans in a more meaningful way.

As engagement is the key metrics that all brands active on social media aim to achieve, but engagement is something that only come through relevant conversations initiated between brand and its audience.

One common and effective tactic for marketer has been Crowd-sourcing.   It at once sparks conversations, giving the opportunity to the fans/followers to share their opinion.  The beauty of any such campaign is that – those opinions generated matter.

Brands have been keen on utilizing the feedback/suggestions/ideas/thoughts provided by its online community and turning them in reality.  Brands have been using crowd-sourcing campaigns to various activation objectives ranging from:
1) New product development –   Where the crowd is brought into the product decision process.    

Example: Ice cream brand Baskin Robbins is doing just that. It is asking people to create their own original ice cream flavors using Baskin-Robbins’ virtual flavor creator. Submissions will get evaluated by judges and narrowed down to list of 10 new flavors entries. The 10 short-listed options will be put up for voting by public   The flavor to get the most votes will be sold in Baskin-Robbins shops nationwide in 2013.

Baskin-robbins flavor creator

Baskin-Robbins is not the only brand that has used crowd sourcing for new product development, in the past we have seen examples of Vitamin water (Letting fans decide, the flavor, the bottle, the design and the name) or Frito-Lays’s new campaign “Do us a Flavor”  (Also encouraging its fans to come up with new Flavor – with big prizes to win)

2) Feedback/ Process ImprovementWhere Crowd’s suggestions/feedback is used to improve current process/experiences centered on brand’s value.

Example:  Starbucks – “My Starbucks Idea” Starbucks using http://mystarbucksidea.force.com/for improvingMy Starbucks Idea in-store experience.

The “My Starbucks Idea” campaign is a great example in crowdsourcing feedback on both the brand and product level. The campaign encourages people to submit their comments and ideas on everything related to Starbucks.

It also keeps consumers in the loop on what ideas Starbucks is currently implementing.. At the end of the day, the brand is getting a steady stream of feedback and business ideas while deepening the bond with its customers and evangelists.

3) Community Involvement – Where crowd acts as the key contributor to influence which meaningful cause needs to be supported first and how?

Example:  Pepsi – Refresh Everything (www.refresheverything.com)

Pepsi’s “Refresh” campaign directly didn’t relate to its product or brand idea. Pepsi realized early on that the millennial generation is passionate about supporting good causes and wanted to see the brands they buy from do the same.

Therefore the Pepsi Refresh campaign was anchored around using the $20 million dollars budgeted for marketing and allowed fans to submit ideas and vote for funding to carry out local community projects.  The projects ranged from environment to education.

The above examples surely prove one point that when the conversation is taken more from being a broadcast to a one-to-one dialogue.   That’s when you turn table to your target audience and actively engage them to participate.