Last year a client approached us to assist them in rejuvenating and creating a new brand for a consultancy which specialises in innovation in the corporate world. The original consultancy had been around for five years and the partners had decided to split up and go their own ways.
Crowdsourcing is the act of outsourcing tasks, traditionally performed by an employee or contractor, to an undefined, large group of people or community, through an open call.
In his book, The rise of crowdsourcing (2006), Jeff Howe established that the concept of crowdsourcing depends essentially on the fact that because it is an open call to an undefined group of people, it gathers those who are most fit to perform tasks, solve complex problems and contribute with the most relevant and fresh ideas.
We suggested crowdsourcing on Facebook to get our “friends” to contribute to selecting a new name for the company, upon which to build the brand and the innovation profile of our client.
We posted the following message on my status update:
“Get your thinking caps on and win R1000. One of our clients is an Innovation company. They want to use crowdsourcing to find a new name and logo. The company provides practical embedded innovation solutions for corporates. Ideally the name should be as descriptive as possible, alternatively something cool that we can build on. The word “consulting” should not be part of the name.”
We received over a hundred suggestions and eventually my client selected “Innocentrix”.
Despite the fact that we successfully crowdsourced a name for our client, there were some lessons learned along the way. Here are some of our findings and suggestions for why we saw what we did.
Only a small percentage of Facebook users participate
Conventional wisdom has it that there is a 1:10:100 ratio in terms of participation in social media; for every one person who posts, ten are more likely to comment and a hundred will read. Obviously this is a general rule, governed by what is posted and the nature of the audience. Howes maintains that the audience should be undefined. This project was
- a competition;
- requiring creativity from my personal Facebook audience of just over a thousand friends;
- a willingness to participate in a crowdsourcing experiment; and
- potentially an interest in innovation.
Just over five percent of the audience responded, which lead us to postulate that these governing parameters halved the number of potential respondees. It has to be borne in mind that the audience was also my group of friends on Facebook who are likely to have been at school or varsity with me, or whom I have worked with. They could also be friends of friends and ninety nine percent of them are based in South Africa. This makes the audience more homogenous and defined than the universe of general Facebook users.
Rewarding the audience
Given that five percent responded despite these constraints, this is a higher percentage than we expected. This may be because we offered a monetary reward, and it could also be attributed to the fact that we continually “rewarded” the audiences with updates and thank yous.
Because most people do not keep up with their friends on their “walls” and profiles, but rather on the “newsfeed”, only those friends who were on line at the time of the status update, (or have so few friends that their newsfeed is very limited) would see our posting.
We posted new status updates every two days for a week and managed to solicit a few extra responses, but the initial interest was much greater, which leads us to suspect that those people most likely to respond are on Facebook more often.
Tightening up the brief
During the process we started to identify two trends:
- the names were either mutations of “innovation” and combinations of words like “Innocentrix”, or
- they were creative combinations of unrelated concepts like “cracked pepper”.
We attempted to refine the brief, on instruction from our client, to include a name and three associated words like “fast, efficient and creative”. There was a big drop off in the number of responses, which may suggest that we had annoyed our audience by changing horses mid stream. It may also just be that we had exhausted their contributions up front.
Not everyone is willing to share ideas
Crowdsourcing is a relatively new concept brought about by the democratic nature on the Internet, but we noted a marked trend amongst our older respondents to “in-box” me with their suggestions, rather than sharing them in the public domain. One of our respondees even removed all of his suggestions when we announced the winner to prevent them being used in the future.
This was an interesting, successful, non scientific experiment, but a lot more research is required to understand audience behaviour, crowdsourcing and motivation on Facebook in South Africa.
About Digital Bridges
Digital Bridges creates high performance organisations by unlocking the business value of the web. We create digital strategies, user requirement and functional specifications for Intranets, websites and web applications. We also develop and implement social media strategies and create powerful digital brands using eMarketing and Communication and manage brand conversations with consumers.
Digital Bridges approaches the web from a management consulting position and relies heavily on rigorous academic thinking as well as business experience. It is headed up by Kate Elphick who has a Law degree and an MBA from GIBS. Kate has spent the last fifteen years of her career on the business side of the IT industry with companies such as Datatec, Didata, Business ConneXion and Primedia.
Digital Bridges has a broad range of experience working with significant, successful clients in the Financial, Gaming, Tourism, Pharmaceutical, ICT, Legal, Airline, Professional Services, Media and Public Sectors.
To find out more about Digital Bridges, please visit www.digitalbridges.co.za or contact Kate Elphick on firstname.lastname@example.org