Building a vibrant and growing crowd is easier and less expensive than you might think. Here are a few tips and best practices gleaned from several companies, agencies, and even community members who are directly involved in crowdsourcing every day.
We’ll take a quick look at four factors:
- The Most Productive Perspectives
- Developing Effective Communication Styles
- Collaborative Strategies
- Miscellaneous Tips
Be totally transparent with and within your community. There can be no hidden agendas. From the outset, be clear about what you expect from your community and what you expect of it. Are there terms-of-service? Will you be consistent in administering your community? What do you expect from your community? And what can they expect from you?
Along similar lines, you must be absolutely honest with your community. If you screw up, tell them. If they are mistaken, tell them. Don’t hold back. There’s no place for politics within a community. In fact, most members of a creative community will like you better and show increased loyalty if you’re regularly communicative, whether everything is going great or if there are challenges to face.
Be an advocate for and the ultimate protector of your community. Don’t let your customer or client take advantage of your community. Fight for their rights. Fight to protect them. Fight to take care of them.
Effective Communication Styles
Speak to your creative community in their language: If they are creatives, find people on your staff who know their language, whether we’re talking about writers, photographers, videographers or others. It’s more than buzzwords, it truly knowing your community’s area(s) of emphasis and being able to communicate in that ‘language.’
Be supportive and encouraging: Remember, there will likely be several circumstances in which members of your crowd will probably not be compensated for their efforts. They need to know their efforts are appreciated and that they are important members of your community. Tactics like ‘game mechanics’ detailed a bit later in this piece can be productive, but perhaps most important to maintaining goodwill is for you to support and encourage your community. Now, if you have the means to enable members of your community to support and encourage each other along the way via social media applications or similar options, even better!
Be super responsive: Funny as it may sound, work to astound your crowd’s membership with the speed of your responses, and the appropriateness of what you say and how you say it. Perhaps the most common beef in the crowdsourcing space comes from members who don’t hear from anyone on a regular basis or who feel ignored. This is easy to address.
Partner and team-up with your best community members: While you don’t want to be accused of having “favorites”, capitalize on the best-of-the-best and make them your fellow promoters with the rest of your community. No matter how great you think you might be at communicating with your members, creators will almost always listen to their peers first!
Employ “game mechanics:” Badges, awards, and recognition are often times more important than cash awards to many creative community memberships. Find unique and interesting ways to award recognitions to your community members.
Remember to reach out to community members whom you haven’t heard from in a while: It’s amazing how many of them will rejoin a community’s activities with just a little encouragement and outreach on your part.
Identify specific skills within your community along the way, and categorize them: If you find a great animator, make note of it; a great outdoor videographer or writer, consider all of these attributes for future opportunities.
In summary, building and maintaining a vibrant crowd requires a sometimes nuanced and other times obvious combination of careful listening and action. I hope this summary of best practices will be of use to you in your efforts.