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Crowdsourcing 101

August 1, 2012

Toronto, August 1, 2012 - For the first time, the social web has allowed the opportunity for the unknown public to comment on others' ideas. Historically, public contributions to projects such as The Oxford English Dictionary were done over extended lengths of time to help index and prepare for publication. This took decades to complete. The question now, though, is how to most effectively do this in the present climate.

"When we hit a creative roadblock, we usually operate under a conventional wisdom that artificially closes the door to possibility," says Randall Craig, web and social media strategist, and author of the Online PR and Social Media series. " To break the block, we only have to ask for help from our ever-widening circles of colleagues, community, and the crowd. Crowdsourcing is the antithesis of conventional wisdom."

Randall Craig offers the following 'Crowdsourcing 101' for those looking to try it out:

1. Scope: Sometimes this means a thorough description of the underlying problem, so that the responses are laser-focused on the solution. Sometimes it means a shorter, intriguing, open-ended question to spur a creative discussion.

2. Focus: The audience you ask must have a stake in the outcome - the higher the stake, the better the responses. Curating a community of interest around your products, services, or ideas is far easier with social media than any other channel. It is the online community that is most likely to respond with thoughtful ideas. If you don't have a community of your own - or if you want to range further afield, you can 'borrow' a community by sending your request via Twitter using a specific hashtag, or posting your request within a specific LinkedIn group.

3. Carrot: While not always necessary, providing an incentive will change the response. Offering the incentive beforehand will mean more responses - including irrelevant ones. Offering the incentive afterwards as a thank-you will strengthen the relationship, and open the door to further conversation about their contribution.

Be aware of the downsides to crowd sourcing as well. First, you may tip your hand to a competitor. The request may open the floodgates for complaints. Or the ideas may unreasonably set expectations in the market. Yet, these potential problems each represent an opportunity: People are talking already - you may as well be part of the conversation, and influence it. High expectations are not a bad thing. And competitors are as likely to be mislead by your crowdsourcing questions, as led by them.

Adds Craig: "If you haven't tried crowdsourcing, give it a try. It is just about the best antidote to conventional wisdom there is."


Since 1994, Randall Craig has advised on web and social media strategy. He is the author of six books including Social Media for Business and the Online PR and Social Media series. For more information on Randall' Craig and social media visit

For information contact:

Randall Craig
416.256.7773 x101 /

Carolyn Bergshoeff
416.256.7773 x 103 /

For more information contact:
Randall Craig
Pinetree Advisors Inc.
Phone: 416-256-7773 x101

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Randall Craig, Social Media and Networking Expert


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