Your wish is my command: is online crowd-sourcing something marketers should be doing more of?

It’s never been easier for marketers to learn about their audience. All they need to do is go to social media, look at what they’re posting and what’s trending among their target age demographic. Brands have begun travelling to their audience to market to them too, launching social media campaigns, joining Snapchat, Instagram, Pinterest, whatever it may be. But something else we’ve noticed recently is brands going to their audience and essentially asking for advice, crowd-sourcing ideas for products like websites, food, even ads. Here are a few examples from here and abroad.

As any marketer will tell you, online audience engagement is not all about clicks. Engagement is better measured via ‘shares’, ‘retweets’ and comments which shows your target market rates the content, has a genuine interest and is therefore willing to spread the word to their friends.

One of the best ways to engage an audience is to have a conversation of sorts, to get the audience participating in something rather than being sold something via a shouty ad on television. People also love giving their opinions, and seeing their thoughts moulded into action, shows them that brands are actually listening.

Mitre 10 has made an effort to engage its audience through its ‘Mitre 10 Dream Kitchen’ initiative where it built a kitchen with input from its Facebook fans.

The DIY brand put up posts on Facebook with different options for elements of the kitchen, for example, which splashback looked best out of four options, which floor options (tiles, oak etc). Those that voted went into the draw to win their own dream kitchen.

There are a lot of fun choices to make when you are designing any kitchen. Our fans had their say and helped design this dream kitchen here on Facebook. What do you think of how it turned out?

Posted by Mitre 10 New Zealand on Monday, 20 July 2015

Then we have Hubbards Muesli which has launched two recent social media-based campaigns: one in celebration of its 25th birthday where it asked Kiwis to submit their own muesli recipes on its microsite, and then share the recipes on Facebook for a chance to have their own concoction hitting the shelves. The other to promote its latest ‘Outward Bound’ range of muesli, calling upon New Zealanders to share their ‘Outward Bound’ moments.

Hubbards brought on board creative agency Hunter to create both campaigns.

Partnering with key influencers on the blogging scene helped in making the campaign the most successful online campaign that Hunter has created for Hubbards to date, achieving a 1.3 million audience reach, 2.2 million impressions, 180,000 video views and 170,000 taking action.

Hunter’s campaign for Hubbards and Outward Bound inspired New Zealanders to share their own ‘Outward Bound’ moments, whether it be a scenic drive in the park, scaling a mountain, biking with the kids or an early morning paddle board, a release says.

Using the hashtag, #myoutwardbound people were encouraged to post a photo or video on Instagram for recognition and the chance to win one of four Outward Bound adventure courses.

Collaborating with Backchat, the campaign used Instagram and Facebook plus a microsite enabling people to see their Outward Bound moments in the competition gallery.

Hubbards partnered with bloggers for this campaign too. A release says this was the most successful online campaign that Hunter had created for Hubbards to date, achieving: 6,300 user engagements, 1.3 million impressions, 213,000 video views, 156,000 taking action and 90 percent engaged through mobile with 10 percent engaging on desktop.

Te Papa museum has also gone to its audience to ask for advice before it launches its new website. Posting surveys on social media with the message: “Will our new design help you answer your questions? We’re redeveloping our website and we’d love to hear from you.”

One survey was in the form of a fake Te Papa website, with messages popping up on the screen asking where to find things, like visitor information, tour information, where to download art prints, etc in order to test out its usability.

Another tested tone and voice testing.

Why take this approach?

“It’s the national museum so it’s really important to understand our audience and making an excellent user experience. Our users are quite diverse and they can come from anywhere in New Zealand and overseas and a wide range of demographics, so understanding their diverse needs helps us make a really good website for them,” Te Papa online advisor Ruth Hendry says.

Te Papa can only reach its audience and make good contact if it knows how to deliver it to them. “Pragmatically improving user experience makes good business sense. So if we know up front what they want we don’t have to make expensive changes to the website  once it goes live.”

When we spoke 800 people had participated in the in the online and follow up research and the research was ongoing.

“Being in a museum you can get quite jargony and it’s easy to organise things that make sense to you but don’t make sense to ordinary people. We also looked at what tone of voice Te Papa should be using online. So personality and usability and our approach to bilingual content [is important].”

She says she finds the research incredibly interesting. “I found it phenomenally helpful actually. I really like undertaking user research. Sometimes your assumptions are validated and sometimes they are challenged but without doing the user research we wouldn’t be bale to make those changes so we are definitely going to include [this kind of research]with our ongoing projects and our ongoing digital projects.”

There were approximately 790,000 visits to Te Papa’s main website over the past financial year (July 1 2014 – June 30 2015).

There were 2,900,000 visits to all of Te Papa’s websites over the past financial year (July 1 2014 – June 30 2015).

“As you can see we get a sizeable amount of traffic. Our ambition is to increase visitation to, and engagement with, Te Papa’s digital content to enable us to share more of Aotearoa New Zealand’s stories,” she says.

Lingerie brand Rose & Thorne similarly used social media to get customer insights by asking its 3000 followers personal details about their lingerie shopping habits through an online survey.

{Bra Census 2015!} How do you feel when you wear your favourite bra?Have your say now & you’re in to win one of three…

Posted by Rose & Thorne on Tuesday, 26 May 2015

Now it’s going to fine tune its business model based on the information it gathered.

Rose & Thorne has a 27,000 strong following on Facebook and decided to engage them by asking them to fill out a survey about their bra preferences.

Co-founder and managing director Sue Dunmore says they wanted to do the survey to get customer insights.

“Talking to our community, getting feedback and making sure that we are solving their pain points is absolute key for our mission of changing the lingerie world,” Dunmore says.

“The bra census was an extension of this; a way to connect with the community and listen to them, while having some fun with it online.”

The survey ran from April 30 until June 7.

People were lured in to do the survey through a combination of prizes (going in the draw to win one of three $200 vouchers) and the appeal of joining in on the bra-related discussion on the Facebook page.

And further afield, New York designer Karim Rashid asked his 415,000-plus Facebook fans to select their preferred option from four facades for a building in the city’s SoHo district.

He is developing the design for a seven-storey structure, “sandwiched between historic buildings on a narrow plot”. The building will include seven apartments with one on each floor.

“It is a great opportunity to get feedback for my work and I believe we live in the age of ‘the empowerment of the individual’ where we all have a voice in the digital age,” Rashid said.

Option “A” was the preferred among his Facebook community.

Cadbury reached out to its Facebook community to source ideas for a new chocolate, asking for “New Zealand’s favourite flavour combinations”.

Ever combined something surprisingly delicious with chocolate? #ChocPlusWhat

Posted by Cadbury Dairy Milk on Sunday, 21 June 2015

It put up a couple of posts for inspiration, and I’ve got to say, I’m a bit disappointed the milk chocolate and lamington blend didn’t make the cut. And who thought chocolate and salt and vinegar chips was a good idea? No, no, no. Salted caramel made the cut, however. As did its recently released milk chocolate and jaffa blend.

It’s time to really put the “Whaat?!” in #chocpluswhat. Here’s some inspiration to get you thinking, let us know what delicious Kiwi flavour combinations you come up with.

Posted by Cadbury Dairy Milk on Sunday, 28 June 2015

We were wondering what other Kiwi Favourites you’ve put with chocolate? What worked? What didn’t? #ChocPlusWhat

Posted by Cadbury Dairy Milk on Tuesday, 23 June 2015

All of the posts related to the possible new chocolate received between 1000 – 3000 ‘likes’ and around 100 ‘shares’.

Airbnb crowdsourced for its ad dubbed ‘Hollywood & Vines’. It was directed via Twitter and shot entirely on Vine. For four days people around the world worked with the director to share in the creation of a single story about travel, adventure and finding your place in the world.

One hundred Viners took part globally.   

These are just a few examples of crowdsourcing, but it seems like a clever avenue for marketers to take. It drives conversation, participation, collaboration and comes in handy for figuring out what the audience really wants so brands can appropriate their products accordingly.

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