The Three Challenges of Crowdsourced Innovation

The Three Challenges of Crowdsourced Innovation
By: Rob Hoehn

You have a problem to solve, and we have the crowd. IdeaScale has recently acquired Betterific, a crowdsourcing platform that engages a community of 18,000+ creative problem solvers, design thinkers, and ideators to help you come up with your next big idea. Learn more about how you can tap into this innovative community.

In Crowdsourcing for Dummies, David Alan Grier wrote that “the hardest part of crowdsourcing is raising the right crowd.” After ten years of IdeaScale, I can tell you that generating engagement is regularly cited as a top three priority for innovation professionals – even those that are experienced communications specialists.

But the entire value of crowdsourced innovation depends on, well… the crowd. The benefit of idea management through the crowd is that you get better quality ideas in a shorter amount of time and you get to see into some of your blind spots and build advocacy at the same time. However, if you can’t figure out how to get the crowd to participate in the first place, then none of these benefits apply. But why is it so hard? Here are a few reasons that our customers have cited over the years:

The Complexity of Incentives. There are two basic reasons why people are motivated to participate in a crowdsourcing effort: extrinsic value (ex: cash or other rewards like social recognition) and intrinsic value (ex: the ability to partake in a meaningful conversation/an interesting subject). If a crowdsourcing initiative is not thinking about both of these reward systems when they’re drawing in a crowd, they are overlooking an opportunity to properly motivate participation.  There’s been a lot of research into this space about what sort of incentives that you should offer, but there’s also a lot of variability concerning the type of challenge, the crowd that’s being built, and more.

It’s Difficult to Keep the Crowd Engaged. In a study of crowdsourced participation on the site Zooniverse the researchers found that “half of the users stopped contributing to projects after 15 days, and only 6.3 percent of users participate more over time.” Why does that happen? In order to see continuous activity from the crowd, community managers have to be thinking about how to engage participants through the downtime and on an ongoing basis. It’s a communications challenge that requires man power and the ability to communicate well online.

Not Everyone is a Communications Strategist. Bringing a crowd means a sophisticated and fun outreach strategy – one that demonstrates and communicates the value of the challenge to be solved and that shares that message across multiple channels: from email and social channels to partner marketing, and more. If an innovator doesn’t have this skill set on their team, then it’s going to be harder to excite and retain a crowd.

It’s for this reason that IdeaScale acquired Betterific. It’s a crowdsourcing platform that has built up a crowd of over 18,000 ideators. They’ve helped brands like Hyundai, Target, McDonald’s and many others co-create new products and business models. And to celebrate our recent acquisition, we’re offering a 25% discount to those who sign up to see a demo during the month of May. To sign up and learn more about Betterific, visit our site here.

About the Author

Rob Hoehn is the co-founder and CEO of IdeaScale: the largest open innovation software platform in the world. Hoehn launched crowdsourcing software as part of the open government initiative and IdeaScale’s robust portfolio now includes many other industry notables, such as EA Sports, NBC, NASA, Xerox and many others. Prior to IdeaScale, Hoehn was Vice President of Client Services at Survey Analytics.

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