What Makes an Effective Crowd?

This month we’ve been thinking a lot about the power of online communities, and how to harness that power as effectively as possible. We asked our in-house specialist, Katie Walsh, to write a few words from her perspective of managing crowds, whether they are composed of brand users, company employees, or competing start-ups.

You’ve decided who it is that you’d like to recruit to your crowd: what now? Sit down, if you’ve been standing up, and think about each and every communication with them. You know what your crowd is all about – they don’t, so explain it very carefully to them. They might not know how to use the software either, but platforms are much more user friendly these days.

What are you asking them to do? What questions are you really asking them? Broad sweeping questions that are nearly impossible to encompass? (Wrong). Incredibly detailed question about minutiae? (Also wrong). Make your question the right size as well as appealing to a range of crowd members.

Who’s running your crowd? Who’s in there, welcoming new posts, introducing people, asking challenging and awkward questions in a conscientious way, noting the people who might need excluding, or rewarding? Is that person kind, friendly, bright and has loads of time to do the job? Great, then your crowd will go with a swing!

Are you incentivising your crowd? If they all work for your company (a Colleague Crowd) then do they have time permitted to them at work to take part (good) or are they expected to do it on their own time? (baaaad).

Are you asking complete strangers to come and give you their opinions about something? Are you paying them? Because complete strangers will not participate just for fun anymore, or spurious occasional gift cards for being top of the leaderboard – that ship sailed a while ago. Pay them only at the end of the project after they have posted into all your challenges! Also pay them what they would expect from any market research exercise that would take them the same amount of time. You may not know how much that is, but find out, because they will.

Are you asking a bunch of experts who do not work for you to solve problems? Then you’d better have a great prize at the end of it to motivate them!  If you do not, then make sure you invite them flatteringly and pay them, see above, except way more: pay them for their professional time.

Would you join your crowd? Because if the answer to that is no thanks I’m busy, then why would anyone else?

Try out our free Crowd Facilitation Guide tool here, for all your effective crowd facilitation needs.

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