What’s Your Crowd IQ?
First there was “crowd sourcing” and the wisdom of crowds then came the ability to tap into the untold potential of thousands or even millions of users to create sophisticated studies, derive new business intelligence, predict buying patterns and even name your next off-spring. Today, the commercial aspects of crowds is becoming more apparent than ever thanks in part to social media. While it is no surprise to social media marketing firms, small business owners are just beginning to understand the actual value – and potential power – associated with crowds. By definition, social media marketing makes use of crowds in a surprising manner but it requires a great deal of understanding to make the most of it. Today we decided to spend a bit of time to help you discover your individual “Crowd IQ”.
The History of Crowds
Before we get started, it’s probably a good idea to provide a few examples of how the power of crowds can be captured to generate unique creative insight and effective marketing campaigns. One of the earliest recorded examples was a 1906 country fair where visitors were asked to guess the weight of a big old ox. Although no single entry was correct, administrators were shocked to learn that when all estimates were averaged, the weight was only off by one pound. Clearly the collective wisdom of the entire audience outweighed that of any single individual. This concept has been tested and researched throughout the years with surprisingly steadfast results; time and time again, the crowd has been shown more reliable than the individual.
Today this idea has gained ground with some surprising results; recently Iceland became the first nation to use a crowd in the creation of a major political initiative….the nation crowd sourced their constitution! By using social media, Iceland has created a new style of democracy designed to truly hear the voices of the people directly. It may be the first but is unlikely to be the last as technology finally catches up to the reality only dreamed about by the founding fathers.
Of course, many successful sites have harnessed the power of crowds to create entirely new types of business models. From iStockphoto which transformed the licensing and distribution of creative elements to Design Contest, logo makers and others that help vote on new business ideas, evaluate creative elements and even predict outcomes of major events with surprising accuracy. Not only are business owners, financial analysts and even politicians turning to crowds for insight into future events, but crowds are beginning to experience stratification and specialization. One of the best examples of this can be found on mega sites like Amazon.com. Not only do some opinion leaders (aka, top reviewers) tend to elicit very strong positive reactions via their testimonials and reviews, but they are often able to predict future best sellers due to their above average interaction and expertise with a given product or category. These “super-users” even gain their own following as their helpful reviews not only aide in buying decisions among other users but may actually persuade buyers to try one item rather than another…effectively creating a strong demand.
What Works With Crowds?
Great. So crowds are effective, able to drive growth, increase sales, enhance visibility and engage clients and social media marketing is the newest and most advanced method of tapping into crowds ever created. But do you know what works best with crowds? Although we started to give you a crowd IQ, that would contradict the point of the story since chances are you would be forced to take the quiz alone! Instead, we figured it was just easier (and nicer) to give you a list. How many of these crowd pleasing possibilities have you put to use?
1. Survey Insights – When it comes to creating a survey, the bigger the crowd the better the results. Results tend to be more reliable and specific when a larger number of people respond but be sure to look for those unusual responders. While some are merely “noise”, others are advanced users that may point to specific insight.
2. Competitions – Take a lesson from the old school ox guessing competition and engage users in guessing games or creativeelements that others vote upon. Not only does it add interest, but it often uncovers unique insight into new ways users implement a product or features that could be easily added to a product line.
3. Testimonials – Have any super-users? Tap into this vast potential by forming strategic relationships with highly influential clients or even other business partners. Get reviews;
ask for examples of how they benefit from the product or service.
4. Vote – The shift to social business is transforming the manner in which clients conduct business and how executives respond. Consumers are increasingly expectant that their wishes be
listened to when it comes to business practices. For example, no more “pink slime” in fast food burgers thanks to public outrage over the idea of feeding by-products to children in exchange for a little fun outing. Take votes and then follow-up with a public response!
5. Have Fun! – Last but not least, keep it fun. Crowds respond to fun, importance and authenticity…each is an important component to keeping crowds happy and helping them share the news that is you and/or your company!