A Case for the Crowd: 3 Crowdsourcing Successes
Have you employed the crowd? From small businesses to large corporations, a number of companies have found success in crowdsourcing. The definition of crowdsourcing has been much contested, so I will quote Wikipedia: "Crowdsourcing is the act of outsourcing tasks, traditionally performed by an employee or contractor, to an undefined, large group of people or community (a crowd), through an open call."
User's motivations for participating in crowdsourcing vary across platforms. David Brabham's article Moving the Crowd at Threadless identifies four key motivations for participation in the Threadless community, including:
- Opportunity to make money
- Opportunity to develop creative skills
- Potential to take up freelance work
- Love for the community
Interestingly, Brabham notes that addiction was a fifth theme that emerged from his study. Can you think of other motivating factors? Could your company benefit from allowing the crowd to take over a task? Let's take a look at three companies that allow the crowd to do their buying, designing, and teaching.
ModCloth and the fashionable crowd
Online retailers that are hesitant about crowdsourcing should look to ModCloth for inspiration. ModCloth is an online retailer of inexpensive, indie fashions. A small piece of ModCloth's product line emerges from their crowdsourced.
Be the Buyer program that allows users to vote and comment on their favorite clothing samples. The image below is a screenshot of an item that was posted for review in ModCloth's Be the Buyer program.
The user comments on ModCloth's Be the Buyer pages reveal an active user community that is invested in the future product line. ModCloth's crowd seems to share one of Brabham's four motivators: a love for the community. On ModCloth, personal opinions become a form of fashion expertise as conversations play out through commenting, voting, and ultimately product sales. A press release issued byModCloth on June 30, 2010, confirmed that they had received venture funding of $19.8 million in Series B financing. This funding will be used to develop the site's social commerce platform and further empower its customers to be decision makers.
MyPitch and the creative crowd
Companies like Victors & Spoils and MyPitch offer creative marketing croudsourcing services. In September 2010, MyPitch announced its expansion plans for six offices in Europe in addition to its Stockholm-based headquarters. At that time, Mypitch.com counted 4,000 creative individuals from 140 countries in its network.
On MyPitch, a clients posts a marketing brief, and creatives can submit a pitch and receive payment upon acceptance. The image below shows a creative's pitch. If we look back over Brabham's four motivations for crowdsourcing, MyPitch offers many users an opportunity to make money, take on freelance work, develop their creative skills, and participate in a community. Which of these motivators do you think is the strongest for MyPitch's crowd?
Student of Fortune and the educated crowd
The crowd drives the online tutorial site called Student of Fortune. Students post their homework questions and the amount that they will pay for an answer. Self-identified tutors on the site can respond to questions and receive monetary compensation. The example below is a snapshot of a recently answered tutorial request about polynomials. As you can see, this student offered $1.00 in exchange for a response. However, a request for a more complex tutorial might ask for $40.00.
According to David Port's (2010) Entrepreneur article Making Millions on Crowdsourced Homework,
"Student of Fortune receives 18% for every question answered and has experienced significant growth since its inception in 2005."
Thus, Student of Fortune's use of crowdsourcing has allowed the company to meet the academic needs of students and the financial needs of tutors.
Crowdsourcing at work
Do you think that crowdsourcing could work for you? What sites do you see crowdsourcing at its best?
[Image credit: SXC.hu http://www.sxc.hu/photo/1254520]
[Image credit: ModCloth.com http://www.modcloth.com/storefront/products/be_the_buyer]
[Image credit: MyPitch.com http://www.mypitch.com/pitches/date]