Two Shocking Truths about CrowdSourcing
Building on my last post on perception, I thought I’d explore how people really feel about crowdsourcing by introducing two startling truths. The truth is Crowds and Crowdsourcing are broadly misunderstood.
- Crowdsourcing is not about you. It’s about the crowd
- Crowdsourcing is not about content. It’s about emotion
My take: People are busy. Crowdsourcing is perceived as cutting edge. Radical. Few people have actually done it and can speak with any real authority on the subject. So we ignore it. We leave it to those who think differently.
When it comes to new stuff we look for reasons to filter (aka ignore). We’ll look at that later! Like the guy with the bow and arrow, we tells the machine gun sales guy to wait. We’re busy! We filter to save time and not to save ourselves.
- What’s in it for me?
- What can crowds do for me?
- Doesn’t the crowd just add another layer for me to manage?
- Isn’t managing the crowd going to give me a headache?
- Isn’t it quicker for me to pay someone to get the job done?
- Isn’t crowd sourcing expensive?
- Isn’t crowd sourcing something for the big guys/big brands/ big products/ big projects?
- Don’t I get better quality content if I pay for it? Isn’t crowdsourcing shoddy?
- Shouln’t I hire an expert?
Is that you? Is that how you perceive crowds?
My take: Big mistake! A huge misconception!
Crowds are not about you. Crowds are about them. Crowds are about amplification. Crowds are about scale. Crowds scale naturally. Crowds connect around content not geography. Crowds are about connections and about forming community.
When you engage a crowd they invest emotionally in your company/project. Most of all they vest in your outcome. They leave a piece of their emotional soul behind. And they come back to check in on their investment.
So if you don’t want people to care, go ahead ignore the crowd. If you don’t want crowd amplification just get ready to cut big fat checks to Google, Facebook et al.
As an example with GiftTRAP, my board game, I crowdsourced images to use as gift ideas. The game adds a fun feedback loop to the serious act of gift-exchange. In real life we give real gifts and false feedback. In the game you give pretend gifts and honest feedback
I ran a contest. I sourced images from Flickr using Creative Commons licensing. I contacted Flickr. I contacted Creative Commons. I contacted the photographers. I fostered community and connection. It would have been cheaper to pay for stock photos, but I didn’t want photos, I wanted emotional connection.
And I got the amplification I was seeking. Lots of photographers became fans of the game. Creative Commons used GiftTRAP as a case study of how to build commrcial products from CC content.
My game is now in 12 languages. It propelled itself globally by reputation and stories not by me pushing and promoting. That is crowd amplification in action.
You can’t quite see, but on each gift image we credit the person who submitted the image. We were simply complying with Creative Commons Attribution Licensing for Commercial use.
Just to put this in perspective. There was no large team. It was a family production. This was my first ever game. We self-published. We have never paid for any advertising on GiftTRAP. We went to New York Toyfair twice and they were both disastrous. The crowd saved us. The crowd propelled us. That’s me holding the Spiel des Jahres prize. That’s the board game equivalent of winning an oscar. I didn’t know a soul in the board game industry before I published.
So what’s your take. Have you tried crowdsourcing? Did you think it was about you? Or the crowd?