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Sweets and Tweets preview: 3 questions for Mark Walsh

3 min read

Brands & Campaigns

Hosted by social media expert (and member of our Social Media Advisory Board) Debbie Weil, next week’s Sweets and Tweets in Washington, D.C., will focus on how crowdsourcing is changing the business landscape. The July 9 event is sold out, but Senior Editor Mary Ellen Slayter recently talked to speaker Mark Walsh, CEO of Genius Rocket. Here’s an edited transcript of that e-mail conversation.

MARY ELLEN: Many of our readers are relatively new to social media. How would you explain crowdsourcing to a marketer or PR professional who had never heard the term?

MARK: Briefly, it is asking the crowd to answer a question or fill a need you have. The crowd is either the whole world … i.e. the world wide Web, or some segmented subset of it that has raised their hand and said they are good at a certain thing. A couple of examples:

  • Need advice on how to string a lacrosse stick? Ask subscribers to for a video of them doing it in slo-mo so you can follow along step by step.
  • Need new ideas for an ad campaign to help prevent teenage smoking? Put up an RFP (request for proposal) on a site like GeniusRocket and get all sorts of logos and taglines and viral videos that you can purchase and use.

The essence of crowdsourcing is getting a lot of different solutions, perspectives, answers and creativity from many people that you sort through and employ. The hard part is figuring out how to compensate people for it.

Besides Genius Rocket’s clients, are there any particular companies, agencies or nonprofits that you think are using crowdsourcing particularly well right now?

  • Dorito’s did it with their Superbowl ad, where the crowdsourcing exercise was, in and of itself, an ad campaign, too. Plus they got an award-winning TV commercial out it.
  • InnoCentive is doing it well in the drug-discovery and drug-development sector, and some of the better “Question and Answer” platforms are showing that you can post all sorts of questions and get some good answers.

What advice can you offer for someone who wants to experiment with this for their organization, but is meeting resistance from peers or senior management?

  • Changing legacy behavior always scares a lot of people. Understand that and don’t take it personally
  • Use the services of the crowdsourcer to minimize risk and embarrassment in your “trial.” (Genius Rocket offers “private” crowdsourcing where you don’t have to announce what the brand or need is until people have signed non-disclosure agreements.)
  • Reassure the ad agency, the marketing department, the head of PR, or whomever is most worried, that crowdsourcing is a tactic, not a replacement to what was … so everyone is still safe.

Image credit, Mental Art, via iStock