Crowdsourcing: How to make money by activating the crowd…

Crowdsourcing: How to make money by activating the crowd…
November 25, 2016 Denitsa Kozanova
What is crowdsourcing and how your business can benefit from it?

What is Crowdsourcing?

Crowdsourcing means engaging the ‘crowd’ in your business operations. The word compiles ‘crowd’ and ‘outsourcing’ and was first used in 2006 by Jeff Howe and Mark Robinson, editors in Wired, to describe companies that were using the crowd for Internet projects. Wikipedia, for instance, is a one of the first major crowdsourced platforms, since its content is solely developed by its users.

Crowdsourcing is actually not a new concept. Throughout the decades there have been numerous examples of crowdsourcing activities. Possibly the first recorded one dates to 1714 when the British government voted to offer 20 000 pounds for finding a method to determine longitude at the sea. A team of professional astronomers and a clockmaker offered a solution to the problem. Unfortunately, they failed to receive a commission, even though the clock maker’s entry eventually became the first marine chronometer.
However, with the emerge of the Internet it got possible to take part in events, happening on the other side of the world. Technologies enabled companies to explore new forms of business, to expand their business to other countries, to even shift whole departments to other countries. This is how slowly but surely outsourcing emerged and positioned itself as one of the significant business shakers for industries and nations. Some argue that crowdsourcing is the next big thing that will shaken up the word. Only time will tell… In the meantime, let’s try to understand crowdsourcing better…
What you need to remember about crowdsourcing?
  1. You can reach a lot of people online.
  2. You can easily control and analyze the outcome.
  3. It’s cheap.
Can you crowdsource everything? Maybe. Crowdsourced hasn’t been widely used, so it’s limits are still to be explored. However, there are few noticeable examples to be mentioned here…
  • Crowdsourcing in Fundraising– when we talk about crowdsourcing as a practise for raising funds, the right term is crowdfunding. ‘Crowdfunding’ means asking the crowd to invest in your projects or products. The practice of ‘funding a project or venture by raising monetary contributions from a large number of people’ is a form of alternative funding that has been enjoying an increasing relevance in the past years.
    Star Citizen Game Crowdfunding ExampleOne of the greatest examples of crowdfunding happened in 2012. The gaming designer Chris Roberts decided to raise money through crowdfunding for his newest game ‘Star Citizen’. For less than two months he was able to receive 4.2  Mil. and the campaign was named the highest crowdfunded computer game project so far.  One of the main reasons for the success are the  ‘in game benefits’ the crowdfunders are receiving after a contribution and, addiotionally, the continuity of the crowdfunding campaign. After the initial pledge funding continued on the game’s website and up to now it has exceeded 160 Mill.
    Another great example is Pebble. Pebble came up with a great smart watch, that works with Android and iPhone, but is way more affordable than both. The company earned 1 Mill. in the first 28 hours on Kickstarter and in total around  20 Mill., which turned the campaign into the most successful project on Kickstarter. The reasons why Pebble was so successful, are outlined in the article ‘7 Secrets of the Highest Funded Kickstarter Campaign EVER (the Pebble ePaper Watch)’.
  • Crowdsourcing in Marketing – Marketing and creativity go hand in hand. So, imagine you are in a need of inspiration. You would usually gather your team and brainstorm about that. Now imagine you can engage all of your loyal customers, all experts and, well, pretty much everyone. The more people you are able to attract, the more ideas would be generated. This is not a new concept, in fact big companies such as Levi’s. Nissan, Coca-Cola have already tried out crowdsourced marketing. 
    Lay’s has set one of the greatest examples in that regards. The first Crowdsourcing your marketing like Lay'scampaign was launched in 2012 and it quickly became a huge success. People were competing by submitting ideas for a new flavour. The results were quite interesting. The finalists in 2014 for example were ‘Bacon Mac and Cheese’,  ‘Wasabi Ginger’, ‘Mango Salsa’ and, wait for it, ‘Cappuccino’.  
    Whether you find cappuccino chips weird or not, one thing is certain, the crowdsourcing marketing campaign is said to have increased Lay’s brand awareness, especially among Millennials, which was its target group from the beginning.
  • Crowdsourcing in Business – We all know that the success of companies such as Uber and Airbnb is due to their crowdsourcing nature. Crowdsourcing enabled them to spread around the word and grow exponentially. Apart from shaking up traditional companies, crowdsourcing businesses prove, that, nowadays, it is possible to make money without hiring anyone or buying any property. 
    The idea of running a company like that still sounds like a brave endeavour. However, more and more companies decide to go down that path and either crowdsource departments or specific projects.
    Boehringer Ingelheim Crowdsourcing ExampleThe pharmaceutical giant Boehringer Ingelheim decided in 2012 to use the knonwledge of th crowd for the creation of a model that predicts the biological response of molecules. So, they asked the public and offered a shared award of $20,000. The results are still unclear, but for a big pharmaceutical company such as Boehringer Ingelheim, this was for sure a big step. 
    Another idea is to crowdsource internal operations. The clients of Crowdio, for instance, crowdsource their pre-sales and customer support department by using our external agents. These agents get the proper education for that, but are not hired by anyone. They work from home on freelance basis, which allows them to offer 24/7 support. 
    At last, it is also common to activate the crowd for diverse IT and Marketing projects. That is the reason why freelance platforms such as are gaining such popularity. The latter is a great option for time-limited projects or if you lack the resources of permanently hiring someone. 
Crowdsourcing might or might not turn into the next big thin, but one thing is for sure, it is here to stay and its popularity is growing constantly.
So, if you want to know more on the topic, make sure to like the Crowdsourcing Week Blog page. This is the one of the few conferences in Europe, solely dedicated to crowdsourcing. They are also constantly sharing news and stories from the crowdsourcing world, which makes them the best way to stay up to date with the latest trends.

Ready to give it a go?