‘Crowdsourcing’ vs. ‘Community Sourcing’

Crowdsourcing  gets a lot of attention these days. Based on the idea that there is wisdom in numbers, the idea is to harness that wisdom on behalf of innovation or evaluation.

Yet there is something reassuring about knowing who’s opinion you are trusting. Our Millennial Marketing community of Gen Y ‘Super Consumers’ provides an alternative to crowdsourcing.

Our over 100 members are widely scattered across 20 states in the US., and internationally –in Germany, the UK and Brazil. Four are in Boston, Seven from Chicago, and 8 from New York.  About half are women and half are employed full time although not necessarily just the women. Many PR and digital agencies are represented in the mix: Edelman, Burson, McCann, Unilever, Mullen, Strawberry Frog, BBHLabs and Intel to name just a few. The rest are students or interns, working part-time or looking for work.

The biggest commonality is a passion for social media. Half describe themselves as ‘social media enthusiasts’ and several are ‘community managers’. Nearly all use Twitter, and many maintain blogs. Most important, they love to talk about marketing. There are lively discussions of technology, social media, finding communities of interest, nostalgia and more.

The community is closed, by invitation only, so this represents a private space to have conversations that aren’t open to the world.

I recently asked the community their opinion of crowdsourcing. Here’s what I heard:

Josip Petrusa: Although crowdsourcing is powerful, the idea itself implies that you simply ask a crowd a question and members from the crowd will answer back. Whereas the idea of community and community-sourcing imply a stronger and more elaborate process. Even though in both cases I’m sure the process is quite similar, being a community and being a crowd speak two different tones.

Rebecca Denison: I agree 100%, Josip! I like that you bring up the difference between a crowd and a community. Anyone can be part of a random crowd, but community suggests something much stronger and more relevant.

Community sourcing doesn’t have the scale of crowdsourcing, but it has the advantage of asking people who actually have a stake in the answer. We think it should be a part of developing Gen Y targeted programs. After all, who better to not just respond to an idea, but provide their own ideas on how to make it better than Gen Y marketers?

Our proposals for Gen Y marketers generally suggest three phases:

Discovery: What is known about how Millennials feel about the category or subject?

Community Research: What does our community say about the topic? What ideas do they have for making the client programs stronger or more targeted?

Recommendations and Validation: Broader scale research to test ideas among a wider population of Millennials.

If you are interested in learning what this hand-selected group of savvy Gen Y marketers thinks of your program, I’d love to hear from you. And if you are an under 30 Gen Y marketer, contact me for an invitation to join us!