Crowdsourcing is one of the buzziest buzzwords words of recent years. Sites like Kickstarter have seen more than $1 billion donated since its 2009 launch, and organizations small and large have found it to be a useful way to connect with champions and supporters of all stripes. Beyond funding, the value of crowdsourcing for marketers is found in leveraging your audience’s interests for your company’s benefit.
Here are three different tactics derived from this crowdsourcing model that are now being deployed by big time marketers across traditional and social media channels.
- Solicit interaction with your product or participation in your marketing campaign in return for some kind of reward.
- Use your knowledge of your audience to give people what they want.Ok, if this sounds too obvious, bear with me. Does your audience like cartoons? Action movies? “Mad Men”? Imbue your content with that aesthetic.
- A third tactic is to present content that appears to be pulled from a wide variety of public, everyday, nonprofessional sources, giving it the appearance of the “reality”we all deeply hunger for.
These tactics aren’t necessarily brand new. A 2011 Mashable article indicates that marketing has already become a two-way conversation where customers can both potentially create and/or participate in a given company’s marketing efforts. These big changes boil down to an increase in choice brought on by a more intelligent audience. As marketing has grown and its tactics evolved, so has its audience.
One way to look at this evolution is what Bryan Kramer, CEO of PureMatter, calls H2H marketing. He asserts that B2B and B2C are distinctions that took the language of marketing too far from its simple goal of bringing people together through communication. With these three tactics, we see big companies embracing this philosophy of H2H and embracing more of a two-way conversation.
The first crowdsourcing tactic is soliciting interaction with a specific campaign for a potential reward. It’s shocking to see how differently brands and customers look at this relationship. While 73 percent of customers think brand loyalty programs are there to give them rewards, 66 percent of brands feel that the opposite is true.
So while marketers and audiences need to come closer together on this one, it can still be effective, like when Mountain Dew encouraged people to help choose their new flavor on social media through the “Dewmocracy” campaign in 2007. Dew-heads coast to coast were lining up to fight for their favorite flavor, so much so that the campaign was used again in 2009. Though you may traditionally think of a reward as something material like a free T-shirt or gift card, merely being electronically recognized by said brand is often more than enough to get people in the door.
Give the People What They Want
Bud Light is another mega-brand that has slightly altered their model using the second tactic: give the people what they want. They’ve recently been marketing their beer to people who are “up for whatever.” Their ads typically feature a bunch of good-looking people having a great time. Their new TV ad takes this targeting even further by highlighting a slew of unique messages on each bottle that begin “the perfect beer for…” and end in some zany or fun situation. Similar to Coca-Cola’s assortment of first names adorning their cans, it’s an attempt to make a simple product personal.
Bud Light targets their customers by matching their audience with situations they are likely to find attractive. The more the individual agrees with or is amused by the statement on the bottle, the better. So in this situation, the ideal bottle might feature a phrase like, “The perfect beer for sitting in front of your computer, reading a blog on content marketing” or “The perfect beer for marketers who are up for whatever their customers want.”
The Hunger for Reality
McDonald’s is a prime example of the third tactic, the phenomenon David Shields calls “reality hunger.” As one of the most visible, storied brands worldwide, their marketing is instantly recognizable. They’ve recently made a significant shift in tactics. Instead of going after our appetites like they have in the past, they’re going after our heartstrings with a heavy dose of sentimentality.
Their new TV ad shows a montage of McDonald’s signs, the ubiquitous and iconic golden arches hovering above the black and white changeable message board. As it cycles through sign after sign we are treated to a barrage of messages of hope and positivity. Though this ad has caught some initial criticism for being too precious, these messages tap into our shared American consciousness by referencing national tragedies (Boston Strong) and personal struggles and triumphs alike (Happy 95 Birthday Woody We Love You).
McDonalds also created a Tumblr especially for the occasion of the signs ad. Tumblr is one of the most popular social networking sites among millennials and is typically used to create a personal page. Branded, “Every sign tells a story,” you’ll notice as you scroll through the webpage that none of those stories are about the brand’s food. They’re all about reminding us the viewers about their integral place in the fabric of American communities.
Take note of these three tactics and see what you notice the next time you turn on your TV or scroll through social media. Brands are turning over the reigns to their audiences in increasingly visible ways. By paying attention to what trends hold sway in popular culture, companies can come to know their audiences better, and be more equipped to meet them where they want to be met.