You probably learn a great deal from interacting with your clients or customers. Often, they have success stories from using your product or service in an innovative way, or they love working with your team and are advocates for your company.
This is why crowdsourcing, (getting quotes, information, ideas, etc. from your current customers), is an excellent way to tap into the collective knowledge of your customer base and create content at the same time. This can also help raise brand engagement, and give you ideas for improving or developing your product or service. Here are some ways to leverage content created by your biggest fans or power users, and incorporate it into your marketing mix.
Anyone you interact with who asks you a question about your services, or about your area of expertise, is giving you some valuable information about the mindset of other prospects – who likely have the same question. Keep a spreadsheet, a Google Doc or notebook handy to add these questions to the list. You can refer to it when working on a Frequently Asked Questions section for your site (or product), or topics for blog posts or emails to send to your list.
Don’t be afraid to go back to the person commenting for more information, especially if you feel it’s already been answered elsewhere on your site. Their question may be more complex than you think it is.
Those raving emails or comments on Facebook or Twitter singing the praises of your product are gold. With permission, you can repurpose them as testimonials. There are even some WordPress plugins, such as Tweetstimonials, which will show those positive comments directly on your website.
Case studies are also a great way to tap into the information sent in by your readers – or which you solicit yourself. Case studies will not only help you understand the direct impact your product made on one of your customers, but they will also help your readers or prospects better understand how others interact with your services.
Crowdsourced blog posts
You may want to gather tips from valuable contributors – be they experts, customers or thought leaders in your industry, and ask them for tips on a specific topic by a deadline you agree upon. Simply ask them to answer a question in just a few sentences, explaining to them that the answers you select will be published on your company blog or sent out to your email list.
These tips can then be compiled into a blog post. Many of the contributors will share the post to their own networks, increasing your reach.
If you’ve built up a lot of rapport with your readers, they may allow you the opportunity to publicly critique their work in an area that you teach. This is especially true if there’s an educational component to your business. Beginners may be interested in targeted feedback about the skill you teach, whether it’s classical guitar, gardening or illustration.
Ask your readers to share photos or videos with your product on your Facebook page or a shared Pinterest board, or even via email. You can post a slideshow of these images and have readers vote on their favorites. Make sure to acknowledge participants publicly so they can have bragging rights – or a prize!
Contests don’t have to be limited to photos and videos. Ask readers to share their favorite recipes using your artisanal sauces, a list of top three rules in your industry, or a caption for an image you share. As a rule of thumb, always adhere to the contest rules for any social platform you use as they vary and change constantly.
Some words of wisdom
Just because information is crowdsourced doesn’t mean quality doesn’t matter. Make sure to carefully sift through responses, selecting only ones that tell a compelling story that will engage readers.
When crowdsourcing information, copyright and ownership are always an issue. Make sure to receive permission to use any written work or images, and have a backup plan in place in case, for example, a user takes down a YouTube video that you’ve posted. If you’re planning on using crowdsourcing for a logo or any graphics, or work of that nature, make sure that you have a contract granting you permission to use the images you’ve selected.
Using crowdsourced content can take time in a different way from creating it on your own, but make sure to take a moment to appreciate your customers’ experience, and let their unique perspectives inform and inspire you.
How have you used crowdsourced content for your business? Share your experience in the comments!
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