Crowdsourcing can be a powerful marketing asset, but many companies need direction on how to implement it correctly.
Effective crowdsourcing seeks insights directly from brand followers instead of the general public, which allows companies to focus on the customers most likely to drive revenue. Not only does focusing on advocates provide brands the information they need to craft stronger strategies, but it also makes followers feel like valuable parts of the team, strengthening brand loyalty and removing the guesswork from new product launches and marketing initiatives.
As social media influencers become more popular marketing tools, the barrier between companies and their followers has thinned. Brands that take advantage of this closer relationship can distinguish themselves from their competitors.
Engaged Audiences Produce More Engaging Products
As agile, crowd-pleasing startups continue disrupting industries, more companies are turning to the masses to solve their product development dilemmas.
Crowdsourcing has proven highly effective for companies looking to understand product demand and make customers feel included in the process. The more involved the customer base feels, the more influential fans should be in guiding the company’s next product offering.
Lego Group, famous for its building sets that appeal to children and adults alike, reviews all product submission ideas that earn 10,000 social media likes. If any proposal reaches the production phase, the company provides 1 percent of new product revenue to the developer.
Sourcing brand followers also helps companies identify problems to be solved. Emily Weiss, founder of skin care product Glossier, used a blog post to ask customers about their dream face wash. After reviewing the responses, Weiss and her team created a more pH-balanced product. By asking consumers about their struggles, brands like Glossier can address problems that they hadn’t considered.
The Glossier example shows that brand loyalists likely have strong preferences about a company’s best offerings. Letting customers express those opinions helps brands identify their biggest influencers and leverage those advantages. Porsche, for instance, looked to its social followers to commemorate the 50th anniversary of its famed Porsche 911 model, eclipsing 5 million Facebook followers in the process. Porsche used 54,000 Facebook votes to craft its 5 millionth car, a custom automobile that crowdsourced its color, wheel design and other features.
Feedback from your most engaged customers provides useful insights that can help brands build on already established success.
Source Your Crowd the Right Way
Not every crowdsourcing effort succeeds, but brands that understand their goals and plan accordingly are likelier to receive relevant feedback. Follow these three steps to turn your brand’s followers into advisors:
1. Grow the following.
A voluminous, educated following can produce better crowdsourcing results. Curate active social media presences on any social media site relevant to the brand.
People will talk about the company regardless of whether it has a strong online presence. However, an active social media presence lets brands lead those conversations and develop connections with followers to leverage into wisdom.
2. Design an information collection strategy.
What’s the best way to poll a growing group of followers? The answer depends on how the brand interacts with them. For some, social media polls and voting contests provide the best results; for others, email campaigns that solicit written feedback work better. Some brands do it all, combining the results into a pool of research to guide their next moves.
No matter the preferred method, marketers should design a plan to gather helpful information before polling. That way, a study’s results can be applied to help the brand and entice customers.
3. Send samples for evaluation.
Diehard brand followers want to stay involved in decision making. Brands can strengthen their bonds with customers by sending samples and demos to loyal customers and crowdsourcing their feedback.
Beauty brand Julep tests new products by sending samples in a subscription box to followers each month. Letting loyal customers try products and offer feedback helps Julep identify which products are most likely to sell. The brand then uses that information to ramp up or shut down production when appropriate.
These crowdsourcing strategies will help companies engage with their biggest fans, identify opportunities to grow, and put more resources toward developing products people want.
Warren Becker is the chief operating officer of Cosmetic Solutions, recognized worldwide as a leader in the formulation and manufacture of turnkey private label skin care and personal care products. Cosmetic Solutions' natural, scientifically proven offerings are used by renowned skin care leaders and physicians, established cosmetic brands and up-and-coming entrepreneurs to help customers achieve results. Warren holds an MBA in International Business from the University of Miami and has partnered in the success of hundreds of health and beauty brands.