Social Media Dilemma - Brainsourcing vs Crowdsourcing

Is the power of the unconscious more powerful than the power of the people? Is brainsourcing a better barometer in determining preferences than the wisdom of crowds, and if so, is there a new paradigm shift on the social media horizon?

Over the course of the last five years, as we have all interacted with social media to some degree, we have learned that the power of the people and user-generated feedback is very powerful. Crowdsourcing on Twitter, YouTube or Facebook can virtually make a blog, video or product "go viral" in short order. But what about this new science of neuromarketing?

In a recent test with the brain's response to the choice of a magazine cover, NeuroFocus designed an experiment for New Scientist magazine to determine which cover was preferred. To that end, according to a Fast Company report, 19 right-handed men who occasionally buy the magazine were connected to an electroencephalograph machine, which measures brain waves.

They were then shown three different cover for 36 seconds each and their reactions were rated on a scale of 1 to 10, based on multiple factors like memory activation and emotional engagement. According to a NY Times report, the lowest scoring cover, with a shattered clock and the New Scientist logo in yellow, scored the lowest at 6.5. A cover with a more complicated image and a red logo scored 7.5.

The top-scoring cover had the logo in red and a single main image of space with a curve at the bottom split open to reveal fabric. The tag line read: “Has the fabric of the universe unraveled?” It scored 8.2. Apparently the phrase "fabric unravelling" was one of the major differentiators. Something I am sure crowdsourcing wouldn't have been able to identify.

According to the report, Dr. A.K. Pradeep, chief executive of NeuroFocus  and author of "The Buying Brain" describes it as such: “The human brain loves to solve simple puzzles,” he said. Dr. A.K. PradeepDr. A.K. Pradeep“Anytime something is concealed and revealed, the brain rushes toward it.”

Now that the cover has been selected as result of this testing, it will be interesting to see if the cover chosen is the one that will sell or if this experiment should have added a 'crowdsourced' component? Wouldn't it had been wise to include some A/B testing where a crowdsourced group selected one cover and a brainsourced group selected the other (predicated  on the two groups actually choosing two different covers) - and then sell both copies at the newsstand to determine which method motivates buyers? Better yet, wouldn't it make a lot of sense to combine the two practices in all studies of this type - one to determine the nuance  of the brain's decision-making and the other based on a majority vote?

Guy KawasakiGuy KawasakiIn a similar case, while social media guru, Guy Kawasaki is relying on crowdsourcing alone to determine the cover of his next book, Enchantment: The Art of Changing Hearts, Minds, and Action, he might be wise to brainsource the top three selections to determine that nuance, when he makes his final decision to award a $1000.

The release of another book has decided to use crowdsourcing a little differently. In the graphic novel Facebucks & Dumb F*cks, a satire on the origins of Facebook, instead of having the 'crowds' decide on the cover, the authors are offering followers on Twitter, Facebook and YouTube to vie for "walk-on" parts in the book itself. To qualify, participants can simply 'tweet' their entry, update their status on Facebook or upload a video to YouTube.

(Note: More on the Facebucks & Dumb F*cks Contest at "Social Media Casting Call For Facebook Graphic Novel" ) 


This type of crowdsourcing relies more on making a 'connection' with the crowd than determining how their brain is reacting to the subject matter. However, it would be interesting to experiment with brainsourcing to determine how the crowd's current sentiment toward Facebook at this point in time. Based on its recent criticism due to privacy infringements and a soon-to-be-released movie that looks less than complimentary, perhaps it is time to do a little of both where Facebook is concerned. Your thoughts?

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