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How crowdsourcing is changing business, advertising and cause marketing

September 29, 2010 30 Comments

By now most of us are aware of various crowdsourcing campaigns being used to generate ideas, funds or support for a brand or cause. Pepsi’s Refresh Project, Mystarbucksidea.com and Dell’s Social Innovation Competition are three well-known examples. We are now witnessing a second generation of crowdsourcing efforts in which social entrepreneurs are reinventing their industries filling the voids left by traditional businesses.

Kickstarter, for instance, is a new way for artists to fund and follow creative projects whether they are film, music, theater, events or gaming while still retaining 100% of the ownership. YouBloom is focused on emerging music cutting studios, agents and traditional marketing out of the equation to enable people to fund the music and bands they want to hear. Spot.us takes a similar approach to journalism enabling readers to fund the stories they want to hear rather than accept what mainstream media is selling them. Ushahidi is an open source software platform that crowdsources information and visualizes it to enable individual to share their personal stories more easily.

These examples are part of a rising tide of crowdsourcing platforms that represent a serious challenge to top-down, traditional businesses. While these broadcast-focused businesses resist digital and social media, young, nimble companies are pouncing on marketplace opportunities the void. We have seen this changing of the guard time and again in the music, publishing, newspaper, and now marketing industries.

A fear of new technology is only part of the problem for these pre-digital and social companies. Implicit in their sluggish response is the self-delusion that they still retain full control over their brands and marketplace dynamics. Yet consumers now want to partner with companies that include them in the creative and marketing process by offering them a share of voice and stewardship of their favorite brands.

The seismic shift that has already occurred in the marketplace needs to be duplicated in corporate boardrooms. Young companies are signposts for the future and guidelines for how industry mainstays must change. If they don’t, they will become casualties of the tireless creative destruction of capitalism and will have no one to blame but themselves.

Do you think enough companies have woken up to the reality of social business? Or are you happy to see these inert companies disappear?

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About Simon Mainwaring

We First training and consulting helps the world’s most innovative brands tell the story of the good work they do in ways that build their reputation, employee productivity, sales and social impact.

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