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Using Twitter to reach the crowd

Twitter has recently emerged as an efficient way to crowdsource because of its fast response time, and reach.  Crowdsourcing shares similar attributes with outsourcing in that companies seek outside help for previously internal functions.  It can also be looked at as many coming together to complete a project.

Jeff Howe of Wired Magazine was the first to coin the term in a 2006 article “The Rise of Crowdsourcing”.  He opened the article with “Remember outsourcing?  Sending jobs to India and China is so 2003.  The new pool of cheap labor: everyday people using their spare cycles to create content, solve problems, even do corporate R & D.”

It’s easy to see how Twitter can be a great platform to facilitate crowdsourcing.  Turnaround time can be very quick, participants can retweet and reach people outside of the core followers, and you can follow up with respondents quickly and easily.

But just having a twitter account isn’t enough.  You have to walk the line of incentivising responses, without being leading.  Some will create contests and give away prizes or monetary compensation for responses.  However, one of crowdsourcing’s strengths is in its ability to generate raw, and genuine feedback or ideas.

There is another way:

  • Be relevant to the crowd
  • Don’t be afraid to use humor
  • Use common ground to your advantage
  • Don’t forget to give credit where credit is due
  • And make your contributors feel valuable

How do you do this?  Know your crowd, understand your objectives, and know your audience.

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