Since we’re about to jump into 2010 (that’s “twenty ten,” everyone), I wanted to ring in the new year with something that will hopefully kick start your collaborative efforts. This is a guest post from Shevonne Polastre, who wrote this article on behalf of TopHost.Gr, a Greek web host that offers shared hosting.
Crowdsourcing has become more and more popular with private companies, non-profit organizations, and even government agencies. It’s a model that is based on many people contributing to an idea, product, or service that would have usually been done by one person. Crowdsourcing has become increasingly more widely used because it helps cultivate creativity and innovation. There are three main reasons why this model works:
- Crowdsourcing builds competition – In an environment where one person is the one having the power to build something, mediocrity is usually the final result. When you have a group of people submitting their work, there is an awareness that it isn’t just one idea that will work, so the result is a higher quality of work. As they saying goes, competition breeds excellence.
- It becomes a collective effort – Crowdsourcing also makes people feel like this is a team effort that not just one person is the most important piece to the puzzle. This model allows people to feel comfortable enough to reach out to others and work together for the final work.
- Learning is key – By having many minds contribute to the final goal, people can learn from one another on other ways to do the same type of work. This is great because it helps everyone be the teacher and the student, so there is an increase sense of education that is a plus for everyone involved.
Crowdsourcing is an useful model because it can be used by any group for any reason. Organizations have used it for developing programs, marketing efforts, research, and education. Earlier this month, we saw DARPA release ten balloons and ask people to pinpoint their locations. The results were outstanding and proved that a collective group can solve time-sensitive and critical situations. There have also been doctors that have used social networking tools, like Twitter, during surgery. This is a great use because it allows doctors collaborate together and share their expertise, which can ultimately save a patient’s life and/or help find cures in the future. Another use has been to aid others in fulfilling dreams. Kiva is an organization who allows anyone to contribute money to aid an entrepreneur in a developing country be successful in a business he/she is trying to begin or further develop. Additionally, crowdsourcing has even help bring awareness to charity causes and collecting money for them. One great example this year has been Blame Drew’s Cancer. After finding out he had cancer, Drew Olanoff used this knowledge to do something wonderful about it. He used Twitter to raise money for charity if people tweeted and blamed his cancer.
Here are ten social media tools that can aid you with crowdsourcing:
It is already being used for many crowdsourcing efforts. The best way to use it is create a hashtag, explain what you are trying to accomplish, and have your followers tweet away. One of the ways that Twitter has been used (other than listed above) has been by conferences like South by Southwest (SXSW) and Gnomedex. They used Twitter, so that attendees could tweet and discuss the events with their followers.
Create a Facebook Page and tell everyone about it. You can use the many applications that Facebook offers, so that others can answer questions on a survey, have discussions on the forums, and/or have notes to bring awareness to a topic. Facebook Page is a great way to use it for building brands, calling people to action, and/or build ideas.
Create an area for your team can collaborate on notes, ideas, and information. Evernote allows you to clip anything (e.g. web sites, images, videos, etc.) that you find useful and share it with others.
If you want to share and collaborate in the creation of documents, spreadsheets, and presentations, then Google Docs is the best way to go. You can even chat with your fellow collaborators and see one another’s modifications without having to be in the same room.
The best way to offer your clients the best customer service is by also allowing them the ability to resolve the issues themselves and share their questions and answers with anyone, even if that person is not a client. GetSatisfaction provides a way for companies to do that. JS-Kit Echo uses GetSatisfaction for their customer support. When I was having some issues adding the commenting system to my web site, I was able to quickly get a response from the JS-Kit team and their users. It was great to also be able to share my experience with my Twitter followers and Facebook friends.
Social bookmarking is a great way to share interesting links that could aid in the development of an idea, education, and/or marketing efforts. Delicious is my favorite one to use for this. You can have a create a network or a group bookmarking account so that anyone can add new bookmarks, tags to existing, and add comments. It also allows you to share your bookmarks on other social networking sites.
Have a way for your team to upload and share different files with one another. This is great for sharing code, developing a web site, or for storing research findings. Dropbox offers a virtual hard drive that you can drag and drop directly from your computer. It even provides an audit trail, so that you can know what was uploaded, when, and by whom.
If there are written works, such as documents, eBooks, and use cases, that you want available to your team or customers, Scribd is the way to go. Scribd allows people to read a piece of writing, share it with others, and provide comments on it. It’s a great way to get the ideas, suggestions, and questions from many people and make a better product.
Video blogging is becoming increasingly popular, especially now that smartphones have better video cameras, and there are apps to upload them to video services, such as Ustream and YouTube. Ustream gives you a way to host a live show and have your Twitter followers chat with you while you are on the show. Additionally, these can also be tweeted, so that their own followers can also contribute. You can also upload to YouTube, which is great because then you can also receive video responses.
Google Wave still has a few defects, but it can be a strong collaboration tool if Google resolves them. I am currently part of an Augmented Reality (AR) wave where they are trying to find a way to use Google Wave for AR. It is great seeing these innovate minds find creative ways to building augment reality into Google Wave, sharing code, images, and documents. Google Wave can also be used for customer service, web site/blog creation, an idea repository, etc.
What are some methods and tools that you have seen various organizations use for crowdsourcing? What do you think will be seen in 2010?