The Crowdsourcing Phenomenon (Article 1 of 3)

The Internet has become a global distribution channel and has empowered its users to collaborate and share ideas in ways we had never seen before.

Nowadays people use forums and consult social media tools before purchasing cars, renting a hotel room or even hiring a professional for a service. A European asking for personal advice on ‘Yahoo answers’ may be answered by an Australian, whilst an international supplier with bad customer service in the UK can lose sales in Austria due to bad online reviews.

If you’ve got a problem, ask the crowd!

The phenomenon known as crowdsourcing is the idea of seeking assistance beyond one’s own capabilities from the ‘crowd’. As a matter of fact, it’s not a newfangled idea, it’s even how, in 1858 a group of scholars created the first Oxford English Dictionary! Despite their hardwork, they needed help to complete 1000s of entries. Thus they appealed for volunteers to write entries according to their area of expertise, and thus the dictionary was assembled by a ‘crowd’. But where do these “crowds” come from nowadays? Indeed it wasn’t until we all had access to connect via the Internet that the power of crowdsourcing really took off. Large groups of people, who often meet on online social networks, and all share a common interest – a brand, a belief, a passion – are united as groups, communities even They thus become experts in certain areas, and their input becomes valuable.

In a series of 3 articles, I am going to provide some examples of how businesses, governments, charities and also individuals, can use crowdsourcing to address problems and develop opportunities

Businesses can use it to gain new business or marketing ideas and thus grow their organisation (Article 1/3)

The crowd’s knowledge is used to improve an existing product or suggest new products. Consumers interactions and the buzz generated by all their input and feedback also provides a valuable branding effect. Features such as ratings/reviews are an example of ways to empower your customers and turn them into advocates. Other organisations opt for a site blog to encourage their customers to communicate and suggest ways how the business could improve its services or products.

Examples of global companies developing new campaigns using crowdsourcing include Fiat or Dorritos:


In 2009, Fiat Brazil used social networking sites to come up with the world’s first ever crowdsourced concept car that enabled car enthusiasts to set the agenda for the car of the future. The company received more than 10,000 suggestions for the Fiat Mio that ranged from giving new car owners manuals on USB flash drives to other eccentric ideas such as funneling garbage through the engine in an effort to recycle.




Another well-known example of using crowdsourcing for marketing ideas is Doritos’. They crowdsourced their Super Bowl advertisements by asking their community to create original advertising spots. They received hundreds of advertisements and also benefited from an increased brand exposure to Doritos – and also the Super Bowl due to this unusual method of advert creation.


Keep a look out on the blog for the coming weeks, as I will publish two other articles discussing ways individuals, companies and not-for-profit organisations can use crowdsourcing to reach their goals!

1 reply
  1. JMI
    JMI says:

    Really interesting Therezia, thanks​!​

    I think that you would be really interested in some recent research that I have come across explaining crowds and citizen science.​ ​In particular I feel you may find these two emerging pieces of research very relevant:

    – The Theory of Crowd Capital

    – The Contours of Crowd Capability

    Powerful stuff, no?

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