Armchair Advocated raised my eyebrow when they posted about “The Rise of Crowdsourcing Fatigue” last week.
“Great,” I thought, “and my blog was just starting to get good.”
But the article wasn’t a eulogy, simply a warning; some companies are half-assing some campaigns that they believe to be crowdsourcing, and it’s giving the vehicle a bad name. The major culprit is the “poll”, which is no new concept; a company asks its consumers a question, provides them with two or more poll options to vote on, and acts (or doesn’t) based on the results.
The main problem here is that this barely counts as crowdsourcing. The poll answers are typically developed not by consumers, but by the company or brand. And given the non-interactive nature of a poll, any given consumer’s input on the answer is standardized and minimal. Crowdsourcing involves pitching a problem to a crowd and letting them come up with the solution, not solving the problem yourself and asking the crowd which solution they like the most. Without the possibility for further interaction between the brand and the customer, the effort amounts to nothing more than market testing.
The solution is to kill the poll. Replace it, or at least augment it, with a discussion board, Twitter conversation, comment thread… anything that allows a customer to respond with more than “this one”. By fostering interaction between the brand and the consumer, companies may find great ideas for innovation in places they might not have expected. If you allow only binary answers from your supporters, you severely limit the feedback they can give you.
Are there other examples of “crowdsourcing” that deserve to have themselves stripped of that title? Conversely, have you ever seen a poll accomplish something useful? Let’s hear it in the comments.