On Tuesday, I wrote a post about the pros and cons of crowdsourcing with respect to choosing styles and services based on feedback from an entire community. After listening to some feedback from readers both in the comments and via email, I wanted to write a follow up post to address some other aspects of this rising trend.
I love community feedback. I think the fact that the internet and social media has made it possible for companies to connect with consumers and vice versa as is apparent by many previous posts on the blog. What I am afraid of, as far as crowdsourcing is concerned, is that a company will rely too much on the opinions of its users or customers.
Some other companies have found smart ways of using modified crowdsourcing strategies to achieve a nice balance of feedback and ingenuity. A website may lay out 3-4 different options and have the community vote to choose the best one. However, taking that strategy leaves you in what some might consider a poor position. One, you are locked in to that vote no matter what (see TIME’s top 100), unless you want to risk community backlash. Two, those people who voted for something other than the winner may resent the final outcome.
Additionally, as Paul Miser pointed out, crowdsourcing is not for everyone. There are companies that should do it, and companies that should continue to break boundaries and innovate on their own. Why? Because they are good at it.
Ford invented a market with cars for everyone, Apple invented the market for MP3 players for everyone, and Amazon’s Kindle invented the market for e-readers for everyone. The masses won’t help you create a new market, because many times we don’t know what we want until we have it.
If there are companies out there that are looking to use some form of crowdsourcing to build community awareness and activity, I encourage them to try it. But beware of the risks associated with this strategy because it may be tough to avoid them once you get started. More to come…
Thanks for those people that reached out to me after Tuesday’s post. To follow this blog series, as well as the rest of the posts on Be Innovation, subscribe here.