Lessons from a crowdsourcing experiment

One of the great things about social media is that it gives organizations the capability (if they choose to) and advantage of co-creating new products and services with their customers.

About two years ago I persuaded a client to experiment with crowdsourcing. At the time my client, The Jumpitz Corporation, was setting up their social media presence and they had a huge offline following. Plus Valentine’s was coming in a few weeks.

They asked me how they could bring all their fans online and create some good old word of mouth.

I suggested we try crowdsourcing.

The Jumpitz were hesitant of the idea because they wanted control of the message and end product, to this  I countered with a one week experiment: we crowdsource a new song to the fans, which the Jumpitz would then sing online. Fans could then download the new song in different touchpoints.

All of this with the intent to create a sense of participation and ownership with the fans. This we believed, would also create word of mouth for the Jumpitz.

Because these were 4 – 8 year old kids, our experiment had some requirements. We would put some sentences and kids would fill in the blank. Below is how the first draft looked like:

It was a _____ day and The Jumpitz were _________ around a table when ________ entered the room and said, “Happy Valentine’s Day!”

The Jumpitz looked at their ________ and realized ______ was right, it was Valentine’s Day.  “Let’s make Valentine cards for our _______” said ____.

Wow, that’s a great idea, so The Jumpitz ________ to it!  When they were finished, The Jumpitz were __________ to give them away.  The Jumpitz realized that giving away Valentine cards can show someone you care about them.

We gave the kids some words to use to fill in the blanks. This would create different song variations, which would then get voted on to decide the winner.

To get song suggestions from the kids, we used our email subscriber list to inform people. We created a landing page with sample of the above draft and used Faceboo’s commenting system to capture the song variations. This way people would be able to see what everyone else was submitting

We also had a counter for the number of songs submitted, our goal was 200 song variations. We blew by this goal in two days and ended up with 500+ song variations in 5 days.

Selecting the winning song was time consuming but very fun process. 4- 8 year old kids will think of the funniest things 🙂

Most if not all of the fans that participated ‘Liked’ the Jumpitz Facebook Fan Page.

Conclusion and takeaways

This experiment was a building block to something bigger. My client loved the idea but also found it time consuming for them and the characters. At the time they were filming new shows, so the logistics involved made for a rather messy execution.

When you’re in startup mode you have only so much time and resources to allocate. But all in all it was a successful experiment. My client got the participation and interaction with their fans, and the fans were surprised and happy to participate.

If you’re thinking of experimenting with crowdsourcing, here are a few takeaways:

Have a goal

This is where it all starts. No goal, no direction. Whether it’s creating a new product or service with ‘x’ intention in mind or creating word of mouth, you need to know why you’re doing this.

Understand the pros and cons of crowdsourcing

Crowdsourcing is both fun and messy. It’s a cheap way to get things done, but you have to comfortable with some uncertainty. Understand the dynamics and get comfortable with them before taking the leap.

Have a crowd and make it fun

You need to have a fan base established. Your fan base will be much more eager to participate if they know they’ll own some part of the end product.

What’s your experience with crowdsourcing? If you haven’t tried crowdsourcing, what’s held you back?

Disclaimer: I am no longer consulting The Jumpitz Corporation. They have since changed direction and characters, and as a result the content we created has been removed.

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