Research & Insights

By Shelley Kuipers, October 19, 2012

Participation & Patience: Making Crowdsourcing Communities Sustainable

CrowdConf is nearly here and we are excited to welcome back Shelley Kuipers, Founder and CEO of Chaordix, as a speaker at this year’s conference. With CrowdConf just around the corner, here are some great insights from Shelley about crowdsourcing and participation, to get you excited for the big event. Looking forward to seeing you Tuesday!

Forward thinking brands such as Patagonia, LEGO, Muji and their fans have long understood the value of social spaces and events (first physical, then digital) where they could meet, interact and co-create the future together. Today, companies, organizations, and geographic communities need to become fully oriented toward embracing transparent and authentic collaboration with their crowds.

Although some early attention has been given to shifting the role customers can play in brand communities and innovation processes, this open, participatory and collaborative shift can also engage crowds of employees, suppliers, alliances and citizens. From the foundation of social media and early wins in open innovation, the social enterprise and the open government movement have emerged. I believe that a very important aspect of brand and citizen participation will also involve work in developing nations to give voice to emergent participants both social and commercial; this holds much promise for brands and communities who want to step up and meet the authentic and clearly-articulated needs and wants of this wave of new voices.

True, sustainable and meaningful communities can emerge from crowdsourcing when the collective wisdom of their participants is respected and the brand understands that they’re building long-term, collaborative relationships together, rather than drive-by idea-hunting forums. When communities and brand leaders accept that fostering customer and employee participation in a brand comes with positive and negative feedback, they’ll see that a well-managed (and transparently resolved) criticism can be as valuable as a positive net-new idea.

To be fully engaged, returning community members need a compelling participant experience, regular feedback and encouragement, not just badgering with periodic one-way surveys and idea contests. Brands will reap the respect and attention that they sow. Participants need to be rewarded intrinsically and (when appropriate) extrinsically for thoughtful and helpful contributions – it should be baked into the culture and design of any crowdsourcing community.

The loudest people don’t always have the best insights, but wisdom can ultimately be found in a crowd, if you’re open and patient.