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Crowdsourcing: An Engagement Marketing Opportunity
© Image: Shutterstock / Santhosh Kumar

Crowdsourcing: An Engagement Marketing Opportunity

Editor's Note: The following is a guest post from Evan Buist of NeedaJingle, a music and sound design marketplace. Buist describes how crowdsourcing can help companies not only attain great results, but also market their brands though innovative, new ways. You can get the latest updates from @NeedaJingle on Twitter. Guest contributors' opinions are their own and do not necessarily reflect the view of

Coined by author Jeff Howe in a 2006 Wired article, the term crowdsourcing has certainly gained momentum in recent years. The notion of engaging a crowd, however, has been around for centuries.

In 1714, the British government offered The Longitude Prize worth £20,000 (about $4.7 million in today’s currency), to anyone who could work out a simple and practical method to determine a ship’s longitude. In a time of great social divide, this early crowdsourcing exercise saw a non-aristocratic inventor change the fate of a nation.

Some 300 years later, smart companies and savvy entrepreneurs are using the same powerful crowdsourcing model to tap into a virtually limitless pool of global creativity, diversity, and experience to solve complex problems and create imaginative content for their brands.

But what if the goal wasn’t just to uncover great creativity and innovation, but to gain exposure along the way? Creative agencies know that the crowdsourcing model is not only about the outcome — it can be as much about the process itself.

What is Engagement Marketing?

Engagement Marketing is a strategy that directly engages customers by inviting them to participate in the evolution of a brand. This pre-campaign interaction gives customers a truly unique experience. Rather than making a commercial and hoping that people will watch it, engagement marketing seeks audience involvement in creating the commercial itself.

Crowdsourcing “contests” offer a unique opportunity for clients to generate a large number of global brand ambassadors. By first engaging fans and consumers in the act of actually shaping the brand identity itself, we are able to greatly increase brand awareness and develop brand relationships well before launching the official media campaign.

How does Engagement Marketing work?

Let’s use my company, NeedaJingle, as an example. NeedaJingle is a custom music and sound design marketplace where clients post the music or sound design element of their project as a “contest”. Artists interpret the brief and submit custom tracks for review until finally the client decides on a winner. The winner then receives the associated music-licensing fee as a “prize”.

In the case of NeedaJingle, artists are encouraged to use the site’s integrated social functionality to engage with their friends, family, peers, and network in order to generate a buzz of excitement around their submissions. For artists, the more public support they receive, the more their submissions will stand out to the client, impacting the selection. Artists therefore seek to increase the social reach of their submissions, each creating a “mini-campaign” in order to promote their tracks within their personal network. For clients, each and every share, comment or like on Facebook, Google+, or Twitter is that product or brand exposed to another unique network.

The greater the prize on offer, the more social interaction we can expect and the wider the social reach. The potential exposure for brands is huge.

How do you encourage positive results?

Firstly, there’s the appreciation factor. Providing regular, constructive feedback is an essential part of keeping the crowd on side. Brands must take the time to rate, review, and genuinely appreciate the artists. Artists and innovators are offering a little piece of themselves in every submission and will be reassured to know that they were taken seriously.

Then there’s the prize.

The best way to encourage positive interactions and quality submissions is by offering an appropriate prize. To successfully engage a crowd of brand ambassadors and have them produce great content for a product or brand there must be an incentive. The bigger the incentive, the better the results.

It was the same story 300 years ago, when the British government offered a grand prize to solve a great problem. If the prize reflects the task at hand, you can expect unparalleled variety and superior quality.

The “you get what you pay for” philosophy remains, even in the crowdsourcing realm. We are empowered to engage a broader pool of talent than ever before. We should nurture and encourage our innovators and creators by offering exciting crowdsourcing opportunities with incentives that reflect value.

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