Crowdsourcing Needs Expert Opinion

courtesy another great post on crowdsourcing

photo courtesy another great post on crowdsourcing

The headline for this article caught my eye since…it just seems to me that so much could go awry.

Crowdsourcing Gone Wrong: How Brands Can Avoid Messy Marketing Mistakes

Like focus groups…if you ask the wrong question or in the wrong way, the answers you get will be umm… at the least inaccurate, at the most disastrous.

I spent some time in my career in market research doing focus groups and original research for big brands…and some time in call centers, down in the trenches listening to how questions are asked and their responses.


If there is a recommendation for how to use crowdsourcing most effectively, it would have to be take your time. In our rush to use Big Data and quickly crowd source the marketing process, we’ve forgotten those small but important qualitative touches – what we used to call “mother-in-law” research.

It goes something like this.

Come up with an idea for your crowdsourced project

Check it against your objectives

Wander over to your colleagues and run it by them


Take it home and email it to your closest marketing buddies (all those friends from your college marketing classes can come in handy)


Test it on your target market.

This last part is something I’ve always actually enjoyed doing as it gives you a great excuse to get out of the office and into the real world.  If you’re lucky enough to be working on a brand that targets your own demographic, this is an easy one- invite some friends over for a beer and test out your questions to see if you get anything resembling relevant answers. If, as has happened to me, your target is children or teens and you don’t have any, this is your chance to see how well you’ve cultivated office friendships. Someone has a daughter or son who can gather together some friends for free pizza at mom/dad’s office and participate in a mini focus group.

At worst- this looks like the crowdsourcing process on a small scale – but it shouldn’t be. It’s just the first step. After the mini crowdsourcing comes the rigor. If you work for a large brand, you have the resources to take the data you’ve collected through your mother-in-law research and have a professional write the questions and choices for your crowdsourced project. With a smaller budget, take the time to “Google” how to do this properly….for the best chance at success.

Remember – the input from the people- whether crowdsourcing or simple research is only as good as the questions you ask…some like that old phrase – GIGO – garbage in/garbage out.


headshot newMaryanne Conlin is CEO of RedRopes Digital. She likes to get out of the office and meet consumers. Connect with her on Twitter @maryanneconlin

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s