Everything you ever wanted to know about crowdsourcing

When Jeff Howe wrote his seminal article on crowdsourcing, the practice was viewed as esoteric, even foolish. More than 5 years later, it can be described as (almost) mainstream.

I think I started paying attention a day after reading Howe’s article. And so the presentation below, over time and thanks to my obessesive-compulsive curation urge, grew to become a compendium of crowdsourcing examples – possibly the most humongous you’ll ever see…

Now that I’ve started this blog, it’s only natural that I share it. Enjoy:

Some small print:

1. The categorization of crowdsourcing types is based on Howe’s book, with one addition of mine (crowdtasking).

2. The categorization of examples is often a blurry one. There’s a thin line between crowd creation and problem solving networks and idea jams, for example. One could argue that some of the examples are open-source endeavors, or run-of-the-mill P2P initiatives – and I wouldn’t argue. Categorization is in the eyes of the peruser.

3. It’s fascinating to see crowdsourcing’s development over time (and in some cases, lack there of). Some of the screenshots in the deck are more than 5 years old, which allows one to see the evolution in some of the categories. It’s true that some big companies have put crowdsourcing to good use (P&G comes to mind), but most companies still do not pay heed to one of the most important principles of crowdsourcing, and they certainly don’t leverage crowdsourcing’s potential impact throughout the value chain.

4. That important principle? Make crowdsourcing a win-win proposition. Deliver value to both marketer and customer. Easier said than done.

5. 90% or more of the examples are from the US. Apologies for not being poly-lingual.

6. At some point I looked for wikis of crowdsourcing examples, but the few ones I found were either deserted or not expansive enough. Wikipedia’s is ok.

7. Most screenshots have proper credits. Let me know if you identify the missing ones.

How to deliver value

A few years ago, when I was at McCann Erickson, I became fascinated by Brand Utility. I developed a model to apply utility thinking and  eagerly presented it to various clients. But for some reason, Brand Utility didn’t catch on as a major marketing approach, neither amongst my clients nor elsewhere.

Nevertheless, the essence of Brand Utility lives. Brands are not what they say they are. They’re not what they say they do, either. Brands are what they DO, period. It’s important now more than ever before. And what brands should do is deliver VALUE. Value is a universal imperative for brands.

So here’s my model for how to deliver value.

A few caveats before you dive into the deck [warning: it’s pretty massive]:

1. I do not presume to list all the ways of delivering value. I did not include price, for example – obviously, when you lower the price the value equation changes for consumers. I didn’t include entertainment, either. Feel free to add your own if you use this.

2. Some examples fit into more than one type of value. More power to them.

3. The length of a section does not correlate with its potential value potential, if that makes sense.

4. Some examples are outdated, but I left them in as valid examples of value (e.g., Sparkbuy which was bought by Google).

5. Most screenshots and images have proper credits. Let me know if you identify the missing ones.

6. Thought and design inspiration came from Paul Isakson. Thank you Paul.