What is a crowdsourced contest?
Companies reach out to the general public to come up with a solution to one of their problems, come up with a new product, or otherwise help them in some way in exchange for a reward.
For example, Lays’ Do Us a Flavor contest asks participants to submit new and creative chip flavors and recipes for Lays to implement. Lays then adds the winning flavor to their product line, and the winner gets sponsored on every bag, on Lays’ website, and wins $1 million.
Facebook turns to the public to improve its existing product, as opposed to coming up with new products. Every year, the Facebook Hackathon invites some of the world’s brightest engineers and programmers to breach the security schema of Facebook or otherwise hack any part of the website, in exchange for massive cash prizes and employment considerations.
Lays, despite its collection of professional chefs, food enthusiasts, and taste inspectors, turns to the general public for more flavors. Facebook, despite its great assortment of brilliant programmers who know the website inside and out, turns to the general public to help it optimize its product. Let’s observe the benefits of these contests:
FOR THE COMPANY:
What’s a better predictive measure of innovation- diversity or expertise? No matter how well you understand a topic, such as the chefs at Lays and their understanding of potato chips, you can’t produce innovation without changing your perspective- or inviting new perspectives to take a look at your products and services.
So should companies hire thousands of new employees to benefit from their diverse perspectives? Crowdsourced contests allow companies to leverage the views and inputs of thousands of participants in the general public, usually without having to pay them a dime (although the winners are usually awarded in some way).
If you were in Lays’ shoes, would you rather produce chips that you want to eat, or chips that your customers want to eat? Crowdsourced contests create an open conversation between companies and the general public, and allow them to hone in and produce exactly what their stakeholders want. Threadless has founded their entire business model upon this concept!
Crowdsourced contests are fun, exciting, and (with the right execution) popular amongst the general public. They are a great way to associate your brand with the positive feelings and motivations behind the contest, and strengthen the repute and recognition of a brand amongst a population.
For the Contestants:
Autonomy, Mastery and Purpose
Aside from a given a set of rules and a deadline, the public is free to work on these contests in whatever way they seem fit, with no supervision and no consequences if they fail to complete the task.
In addition, these contests are usually competitive, leveraging the innate human desire to win and be good at something. This is particularly beneficial for contestants who have skills they cannot use on a daily basis, but that contests allow them to leverage in order to win.
Lastly, there’s usually physical prizes and awards for winners of these contests, but more than anything else, they deliver recognition to the winners. According to Dale Carnegie, appreciation and recognition are the most basic, intrinsic human psychological needs.
Companies should begin to leverage crowdsourced contests much more, especially given the theme of the sharing economy that is so prevalent in today’s world. They are extremely beneficial for the company but also provide fun creative outlets for the general public. How many times have you read a receipt asking for feedback without giving you any incentive to do so? Or how many times have customers tweeted feedback at companies, without the companies implementing that feedback in any way? Crowdsourced contests are a great way to create open, collaborative, beneficial conversations between companies and the general public, and can be leveraged by most companies in today’s world.