As we look back on 2013, ‘crowdsource’ will be one of the top buzzwords in corporate America. We’ve started using the Internet to get other people do things for us, and have applied this to our offline world as well. Here’s how you can start crowdsourcing your co-workers, audience, and significant others for content ideas.
1. Ask Around the Office
Let’s keep it simple, you need a headline, or a witty subhead, or a pun for a tweet, so you turn to your neighbor and ask them, or go to the break room and see who’s eating lunch. Crowdsourcing can be as informal as asking someone their thoughts as they make a new pot of coffee — but make sure they get their caffeine fix before you start poking around for inspiration.
2. Break Your Co-workers into Groups
If you’re able to take a chunk of time to crowdsource ideas, break your coworkers into groups and let them brainstorm. This can also be a team building activity if people from different departments are mixed together. Everyone can see the strengths of others and use them to come up with new ideas.
3. When All Else Fails, Offer Incentives
The key to successful crowdsourcing in these past three examples has been to let your coworkers do the heavy-idea lifting for you. Sweeten the pot a little: whoever comes up with the winning idea gets a gift card, or whoever comes up with the top three blog concepts will be treated to lunch. Make it worth their while!
4. Turn to the Comments Section
Your blog viewers are crowdsourcing ideas for you and they don’t even know it. What additional points did your audience bring up that you missed? What questions did they ask? There could be entire blog posts found just by looking there.
5. Listen to the Haters
Everyone always tells you to ignore the haters, but what if you were to turn their negativity into something positive? When people are trolling you or tearing apart your work, answer their criticisms or questions in an article.
6. Listen to Your Competitor’s Haters
By listening to the complaints and problems that your competition is having, you can create content to impress and intrigue their detractors. They’re already unhappy with your competition and might turn to your blog and products. Is the enemy of my enemy my friend? Listen to what’s being said and find out.
7. Hat Tip Your Competition
Sometimes it’s hard to admit when your competition is doing good, but curating content about the awesome stuff people in your industry are doing is a great way for you to get content and for other to get a pat on the back.
8. Search Hashtags
Almost every social network has hashtags these days, but their hub is still Twitter. Search through common hashtags in your industry and also some lesser used ones. Someone looking for ideas or tips in the travel industry could follow tags like #TravelHelp, #Packing, and #RoadTrip.
9. Ask the Social Scene
Don’t just listen and search, ask! Ask you followers what they want to learn more about or ask a direct question and use their answers. You could create an entire post based on the answers from your fans. Twitter is crowdsourcing at its finest.
Speaking of asking, Quora is a question and answer hotbed, pose a question and sit back while the community provides the answers. Are you looking to write an article about Tumblr? Ask what their favorite features or problems are and create X Top Features of Tumblr or X Problems on Tumblr and How to Solve Them.
11. Yahoo Answers
Yahoo Answers has spawned many blogs that set out to find the weirdest answers and report on them. You can follow these whimsical footsteps for a comical post, or you can take a hard look at what people are asking and answer them in a proper fashion.
Reddit has a multitude of subreddits to inspire you to write or learn more about your industry. Like Twitter, you can either be a lurker or dive in and ask questions. It all depends on which neck of the woods you’re in and how comfortable you are with this semi- intimidating platform.
Crowdsourcing with Pinterest can give you more than ideas for crafts, it gives you ideas for articles and blog content. You may feel like you’ve written about everything there is to write, but searching your topic on Pinterest will bring quotes, lifehacks, and crafts that you can spin into blog ideas. It’s great to add a twist to content or curate the content of others — you don’t even have to organize it as the boards have been organized for you.
For example: Top Pinterest Back to School Boards
14. Facebook Polls
It’s a testament to how fast social media moves that Facebook Polls seem like an old school way to crowdsource fans. Would you be interested in learning more about X? What are you most interested in: A, B, or C? This is simply another way for your fans to tell you what they want.
Plus, this gives you social media posts when you do have the content: You told us, we listened, here’s concept B.
15. Website Polls
These are quick, minimally invasive ways get readers to tell you what they want. Some widgets just pop-up in the bottom of the screen and only ask one question. Do you have a couple video ideas but aren’t sure which one to pursue? Ask your readers what they want. Or have them pick a topic that they want to know more about from a short list. Let them tell you what to do.
Are you looking for something a little meatier than one or two quick questions? Send out a survey to readers, coworkers, clients, friends, whoever you want ideas from. Ask them to rank priorities or rate how much they agree or disagree with various statements. They’ll tell you what matters to them and give you ideas for topics that you should cover more.
17. Social Media Contests
Ask your followers to submit ideas, photos, memes, video, etc and offer a prize to be featured in the social channels or on the blog. Just like your coworkers, your followers might be willing to respond organically, but they’ll be eager and excited to respond if there’s something in it for them. Soon you’ll have more content than you know what to do with.
18. Google Autocomplete
Bear with me here. According to Google, autocomplete, “helps you find information quickly by displaying searches that might be similar to the one you’re typing.” Start typing keywords and see what similar searches people are doing. The entire Google user-base is your crowd to source.
You really haven’t covered any topic until you’ve written it from the perspective of Angelina Jolie. This tool generates hundreds of titles per concept, soon you’ll be writing everything from Filing your Taxes like Genghis Khan to Warning: Angry IT Pros Ahead.
20. Word Cloud Generators
A word cloud can show which topics are getting overused and which ones can use some more love. Someone who runs a pet store might realize that they’ve barely covered on bird care or dog health. Let the clouds show you which topics need more love and inspire you to create accordingly.
21. Ask Outside Your Industry
You are deeply immersed in the jargon and lifestyle of your industry. A blog that is glorified in your field could be unheard of outside of it. Try talking to people outside the industry about what you do, they might have a new metaphor or a fresh perspective on something you thought was normal and boring.
22. Ask the Kids
Michael Purdy recommends ideating over dinner and getting the family involved. If you run a finance blog this is easier said than done. In this case, turn to the interns who work for you and ask what they want to learn more about or what they wish there was more of on the blog. Then, if you really want to crowdsource, have them write it.
23. Ask the Clients
This is one of our favorite tactics at CopyPress. We’ve covered everything from what we do to client feedback. Use your clients’ and customers’ questions to create posts and guides to solve all of their problems before they even realize they have them.
24. Look at Your Analytics
Think of your analytics as a silent crowd. They’re not as interactive as those who share your posts, and definitely not as loud as people who comment, but they have a say in what they want to see on your pages all the same. How did they get there? What pages did they like and which ones did they bounce off of? Is there something you could elaborate on in another post? The questions and answers are endless.
25. Google Trends
Google will tell you plain and simple what everyone else is talking about. If you need ideas in a hurry, take what everyone else is talking about and turn it into a topical article, video, etc.
Besides, every single blog and website in the world needs content related to Talk Like A Pirate Day
What does Topsy have over Google Trends? Tweets indexed since 2006. This site makes it easy to understand why something is popular and get context about the popularity.
Some of these tactics are closer to the traditional crowdsourcing definition than others. In reality, you crowdsource throughout the day. Most of the Internet is based on the popularity and opinions of the masses, it’s up to you to take full advantage of it.