5 Tips For Crowdsourcing With FaceBook
Crowdsourcing is one of those words that business owners hear but most would be stumped if asked to define it. Perhaps ironically, "crowdsourcing," (like "FaceBook") is showing up as a spelling error as I type this. Maybe Spell Check and business owners need to recognize the power of both.
While it is probably not a good idea to ask your followers on FaceBook to prepare a presentation, the website provides an unmatched opportunity to crowdsource opinions, engage customers and energize your network "if it's done correctly."
Think of it as the the world's largest focus group.
So, how do you get started?
Pay Attention to Trends
Since information is so easily shared on Facebook, trending topics spread exponentially. Your company can use this to get your products noticed by identifying the topics that are trending and coming up with a way to tie your products into that trend. You can read about a few of the top services for this here.
The key is to determine which trends you can seamlessly tie to your business. For example, "Lebron James" is a trending topic today but, if you are a store in Cleveland, you should definitely ignore this topic. If you don't see a natural fit, just wait a day or two and try again.
Focus on the Connection, Not the Sell
Once you have an idea of the direction in which you want to go, come up with a game, poll or contest that will attract the users in your network without pushing the sell.
For example, a clothing store could post a poll saying, "Which item of clothing should we take 20 percent off today? The item with the most votes at 3:00 will be discounted." You then choose four or five items and list them as selections. A poll like this announces the sell but the focus is on the voting aspect. Users are likely to share the poll with their network so their friends will vote too. It took five minutes to create the poll and you are crowdsourcing advertisement of the sale.
Not only will this spread the word about your sell, it will also get more users to become fans of your business page so your network grows. This means every time you successfully use these tactics, it will be more beneficial than the last.
You should try to stick to questions or polls that are answered by making a selection rather than an open text field for participants to type their answer. Crowdsourcing can bring a large amount of feedback and text fields are more difficult to control, digest and use to your benefit.
Returning to the previous example, if you were to post the same question but did not include selections, you will get a huge variety of answer which will be impossible to consolidate for meaningful data.
Users will describe items differently, choose items that you cannot afford to sell so cheaply, etc. Also, there is no way for you to predict what these users will write so a selection process helps eliminate the possibility of negative feedback.
Crowdsourcing is only as successful as the crowd makes it. Therefore, incentives go a long way toward motivating your network to share the information you want shared. The best example I can think of was recently done by a professional sports team.
The organization wanted to expand their network so they offered a simple incentive of two free tickets to the next day's game if their profile reached "x" fans by the end of the day. The winner would be chosen by a drawing with all fans of the page having a chance.
Success! Their network nearly doubled in a single day and all it was cost them was two tickets to one game.
Don't Do It too Often
Don't become so determined to grow your network that you forget that users log-on to FaceBook to have fun and take a break. If you bombard users with too many posts, they will no longer pay attention to your information.
At this point you have become a spammer which is worse than ignoring FaceBook completely. Your network will disintegrate and your reputation will take a hit.
These are just some general rules but the keys here are two things, 1.) start using crowdsourcing as soon as possible and 2.) pay attention to what works for your network. It will take some time but, once you get it right, you'll watch your network (and your profits) grow.