In 2006, crowdsourcing, a term first coined by Jeff P. Howe, a contributing editor at Wired Magazine was used to describe the act of taking a task traditionally performed by employees and outsourcing it to an undefined, generally large group of people or community in the form of an open call. In 2004's The Wisdom of Crowds,
James Surowiecki argued that masses of people can be remarkably
accurate in their predictions. When crowdsourcing combines with viral marketing, the result is now called viralsourcing, a new and innovative marketing strategy that is gaining traction with brands of all sizes.
The easiest way to understand the concept is to relate it to how Twitter and Facebook relinquished control to allow third-party tech firms to build API applications for their social networks. Today, this 'open source' tool is being deployed by savvy marketers in a whole range of marketing purposes from food companies, to executive recruiting, auto design, sports management and others. All are combining the zeitgeist of the informed crowds to launch campaigns that ignite viral attention as is broadcasted to the masses via the Internet.
Ten top campaigns have made this list as brands doing an exceptional job in viralsourcing...
In 2007 Coca-Cola launched a competition to design an online "Virtual Thirst" Coke Machine. Th contest invited Second Life residents to imagine a virtual vending machine with limitless possibilities. The mission of the campaign according to the guidelines was to "create a portable device for Second Life’s “in-world” digital society that would unleash a refreshing and attention-grabbing experience, on demand." The winning entry — designed by Ann Marie Mathis / Emerie May — was a series of “Puzzle Bottles” that dispensed cool interactive experiences and Coke-branded virtual gifts. The next phase then allowed puzzle solvers to gift the prizes they received to their friends. In turn, land owners could place bottles on their property and the interactive experiences was shared by anyone that happened to be nearby when a resident solved a puzzle.
Coca Cola Virtual Thirst on Second Life
ForRent.com's conducted a video contest this past June where the best voted promotional video won $10k. The “Ready2Move?” videos were limited to 60 second and had to creatively tell the ForRent.com story. It also needed to highlight why people should be “Ready2Move” and had to promote the ForRent.com®/ and/or the For Rent Magazine® visually in the video content. Differing from other video campaigns this one included a social component where the brand could interact with customers.
Ross Kimbarovsky, the co-founder of the online design studio CrowdSpring.com, faced a dilemma last December according to a recent Business Week article. CrowdSpring, which matches designers with companies that need Web site graphics and logos needed to promote itself on a limited startup budget. Kimbarovsky took a page from his own social Web playbook. He asked a group on one of CrowdSpring's online forums for marketing ideas; and one user suggested designers contribute a Web site to a nonprofit group free of charge. The group picked a charity that helps fathers of children with autism. The project garnered so much attention that Kimbarovsky landed a major new client, LG Electronics, just several months after its launch.
Tongal took viralsourcing a step further than CrowdSpring, allowing even people with no creative talent a role in designing ad campaigns. Contributors were permitted to submit concepts, video, designs and creative; and at each stage cash prizes were awarded to the best ideas.. Intriguing. By the time the campaign launched, several thousands of people helped spread the buzz.
British soccer fans are known for their passion. The Web site MyFootBallClub.co.uk tapped into that by inviting sports enthusiasts to buy and run a soccer club in 2007. The promotion attracted more than 20,000 people and 300,000 pounds ($489,840) to purchase the Ebbsfleet United soccer team of Kent, England. Today, fans run the team, deciding which players make the roster and which companies sponsor its uniforms.
MyFootBallClub.co.uk Web site
Market researcher Peter Sorgenfrei recently founded Crowdbands.com to let fans provide input on decisions such as what venue an artist should play. The Web sites Sellaband.com and Slicethepie.com offer similar crowd control of music acts. As a result of requesting input from fans, "you get immediate buy-in" from the audience, "which creates a viral marketing force," Sorgenfrei noted.
Crowdbands Web site
When Best Buy's Chief Marketing Officer Barry Judge decided to hire an "emerging media marketing expert," he posted a blog and a Twitter message inviting readers to "help us write the job description." Getting the audience involved spurred a flurry of activity on Twitter, helping the company reach out to hundreds of thousands of candidates.
Auto Design. Peugeot Citroen for the last five years has held design contests, awarding cash prizes and a small model to winners. The submissions are often striking. One design last year had an innovative safety feature: air bags separating an egg-shaped passenger compartment from "wings" holding the wheels. The contests generated online awareness of Peugeot among auto enthusiasts and sales have escalated.
Peugeot Design Web site
Tyson's community relations director Ed Nicholson this spring created an "open-source donation network" to give 35,000 pounds of food to charities, but only if participants helped direct Tyson's fund-raising process. Tyson asked groups to design marketing campaign elements, such as which social-networking sites should be used to promote the food handouts. The company promoted the campaign at a conference and tallied 560,000 meal donations
Tyson Foods Web site
PlaidNation, an award-winning branding agency lives the tools they are actually selling. Now in its third year, PlaidNation is a "rolling celebration of creativity and a demonstration of social media in action." according to its Web site pitch. The PN team literally drives a Plaid Ford Flex cross-country meeting creative, marketing, brand and Internet workers, and celebrating their innovations. Every aspect of the tour is broadcast on www.plaidnation.com. The Plaid Flex will be driving through Detroit, Milwaukee, Chicago, Indianapolis, St. Louis, Kansas City, Branson, Memphis, Jackson and New Orleans. More importantly, they'll be sharing what they learn with marketing, brand and creative people from around the world. Their travels in the past have allowed them to meet and interview Robert Scoble, Cathy Brooks from Seesmic and Biz Stone from Twitter.
The entire tour is conducted using social media tools, enabling tour watchers to participate from the comfort of their own homes. There is a PlaidNation web site that shows an interactive Google Map of the route as well as the live tweets on Twitter from the tour.
If you're located on the PlaidNation tour route, and would like them to stop at your business, give RJ a shout (RJ AT thinkplaid DOT com). If you're not a company, brand, don't have an office - but just want to soak in some PlaidNation love, there may be opportunities to meet up with the Plaid crew in every market that they visit. Give the crew a shout by emailing Darryl (darryl AT thinkplaid DOT com), or watch the schedule and twitter updates as to where the crew is headed.
This video gives some additional insight into PlaidNation. backed up by a great catchy tune by Rihanna, "Shut Up & Drive")...
So if you haven't already done so, make sure to add 'viralsourcing' to your social media tool box, as this innovative approach to marketing and public relations is going to evolve yet still and just keep getting better.
Now, let's hear from you. Which brand do you think did the best job in 'viralsourcing' their brand message? Take our poll and retweet to others.