Archive for the ‘Possibility Posts’ Category

Its mid March and after a long winter, I am now trying to decide what to do next with Ideavibes. To answer this question, I thought the obvious first step was to reach out to the crowd for their input.

Three years ago, I launched Ideavibes with the input of a few friends and advisors and built a rather unique crowdsourcing platform that enables users to embed the tool using an iframe on their own website. Great for cities, governments and brands to make engagement happen on their own websites instead of sending them off to other sites.

We have enabled cities and other levels of governments as well as public organizations to utilize crowdsourcing to engage citizens to solve problems and help make change happen in communities around the world. We have also helped brands implement crowdsourcing or open innovation initiatives to build new products, improve existing ones, or develop service offerings that were market influenced from the start. You can read about some of these initiatives on blog.ideavibes.com .

Great stuff. But our inability to build a sustainable business has alluded us.

I am proud of what we have been able to do with the $50,000 I was able to pull together from friends and family, but a few factors have led us to the spot we are now in. These include:
– lack of a technical co-founder meaning a great deal of money was spent on outsourced development
– timing – we were very early into the space and this required a great deal of effort to educate prospective customers
– funding – yes we wasted money on things that, in hindsight, didn’t contribute to what we should have been focused on

In addition to our original platform, we also built the start of a public crowdsourcing space that would become an open platform for anyone to run their own crowdsourcing campaigns. Its unfinished but something that could be great public.ideavibes.com

We have built up some great thought leadership on the topics of crowdsourcing and citizen engagement and are asked to speak on the topic at events and cities, etc. in NA and Europe.

So – if you have ideas on what our next move should be – let me know. The possibilities are endless.

Please contact Paul Dombowsky at paul@ideavibes.com or by phone at 1-613-878-1681 if you would like to start a conversation or pass on your ideas.


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This week’s possibilities post focuses on crowdsourcing and the retail industry. I’ve seen far too many Christmas commercials already, so I figured that retail was a suitable topic this week as we get deeper into the largest shopping season of the year. Both the creative and social side of crowdsourcing significantly impact the retail industry. Here are a few ways that crowdsourcing helps the retailers respond to their “crowd” and how it helps get the conversation started:

Design Your Own Product

A lot of companies have put control in the hands of their customers, handing them the necessary tools to design their own products. For example, Threadless uses online contests, harnessing the creativity of its crowd to design t-shirts. Not only does this get people talking, but it also gets them buying because they can customize products to fit specific needs. Popular products receiving the most votes end up being created and sold to the public. So the next time you’re wearing a t-shirt and someone asks where you got it, wouldn’t it be awesome to tell them you designed it?

Service and Support

Once an item leaves your store, the customer’s buying experience is still far from over. Crowdsourcing makes it possible to address customer issues in real time, improve service and enhance the overall experience a shopper has with a company. Crowdsourcing provides valuable feedback for retailers, as they can detect common complaints or issues, which can be addressed within the company to make modifications to existing or new products. Crowdsourcing lets companies tap into the minds of their consumers like never before and they must wisely use the information they gather.

Crowdsource Basic, Repetitive Tasks

This suggestion is primarily for e-commerce companies or stores that have both a physical and online store. Crowdsourcing can be used to post small, easy to complete tasks that often get in the way and add up quickly when it comes to using up time. Save time and money by crowdsourcing repetitive tasks that are easy for your crowd to complete.

In the article “9 Crowdsourcing Ideas to Grow Your Online Business,” Darpan Munjal writes:

“For many simple tasks, particularly if they are small, there are highly granular on-demand work marketplaces. Amazon’s Mechanical Turk allows you to submit small tasks (called HITs) that people across the world can work on. For example, if you are an online retailer and need help with content development (e.g. adding attributes, or tagging your product images), you can post these tasks on Mechanical Turk for as low as 10 to 20 cents per HIT. Expect to spend $0.25 to $1 for simple, repetitive tasks.”

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Recruit volunteers, develop campaign ideas and work with a small budget- these are just a few of the things nonprofits can do thanks to crowdsourcing. Crowdsourcing’s social nature helps nonprofits connect with a wider audience to influence social change and tap into a whole new world of resources. Here are some other benefits that crowdsourcing offers nonprofits:

1. Getting the Job Done on a Budget

One of the largest struggles for any nonprofit is funding. While making sure the largest possible portion of donations gets to those in need, nonprofits are often strapped for cash when it comes to promoting and marketing their initiatives. Check out the section below to see some of the cost-saving benefits crowdsourcing offers nonprofits.

2. Get Your Creative Juices Flowing

For nonprofits, hiring new staff or enlisting in professional agencies is often too expensive. In the Helping Help blog post “Creative Crowdsourcing Empowers Non-Profits to Spread the Word,” the author writes:

“Creative crowdsourcing can be used to source anything from graphic design and copy, to television ads and radio spots. More than just a cost reduction for non-profits, creative crowdsourcing brings organizations the power of choice and the ability for its constituents to become involved.”

3. Increase Your Reach

There are no boundaries with crowdsourcing. People from all over the world can contribute ideas, vote and comment on campaigns and projects. Social media sites further the reach, allowing people to link to crowdsourcing sites, promoting the causes and ideas they support.

4. Retention

As I mentioned above, nonprofits rely on volunteers and donations, two things that are heavily impacted by retention. When people feel like they have a say and have played a part in a campaign, they are more likely to remain tied to that particular cause or organization. Developing a loyal following is critical for nonprofits, as their followers are some of the most involved in any industry. 

5. Make a Difference

Ideas that receive the most votes should be made a priority. Since these ideas have received the most attention, it’s likely that these campaigns will receive the most buzz and support from the general public once they are implemented.

Crowdsourcing allows volunteers and donors to get involved in other ways than just cracking open their wallets. Small actions such as a retweet  on Twitter or a Facebook status update draw great attention to the cause. When your supporters feel empowered and emotionally connected to a cause, the results are outstanding.

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Crowdsourcing has a lot to offer- regardless of industry, project type or scale. This post will focus on some ideas for crowdsourcing within the arts community, and from here, I will try to feature a different industry or niche each week. I’ve mentioned in some of our previous blog posts that authors have called on their crowds to submit artwork for book covers, and the same goes for bands/musicians with their album art. Here are some other awesome ideas to get your artistic crowd involved:

The Brooklyn Museum

The Click! exhibit (2008) at the Brooklyn Museum was completely crowdsourced. According to the museum website, they held an open call for artists to submit their work electronically. The submissions had to be based on the theme “The Changing Faces of Brooklyn.” After the submission period ended, the pieces were displayed in an online forum- creating a virtual museum where visitors could comment, vote on favourite pieces, ask questions and provide evaluations of the work displayed. One of the coolest things about this project is that, according to the museum website, the data and feedback collected from the forums was to be analyzed by art and online community experts. I really like this concept because it brings together artists and their fans. Observers gain a voice and can interact with fellow “art appreciators” and share thoughts and opinions that might have otherwise gone unheard if it weren’t for the powers of crowdsourcing.

Breaking Borders

The borders in the art community have been broken down through crowdsourcing. Crowdsourcing has lead to:

  • Group art projects- Multiple people contributing to a single work of art.
  • Individual art projects- An open call for artist submissions for a particular purpose.

Example of a group art project: The 10 000 cent project is a great example of cross-border collaboration, featuring contributions from artists in 51 countries. An American $100 bill was broken down into 10 000 pieces and reconstructed with 10 000 submissions to make the bill whole again.

Examples of individual art projects: There are a number of contest based websites where business owners and other professionals define a project, set a budget and request submissions from artists. These projects could be in the form of logo design, website, event posters- anything really. These types of websites help businesses solve their problems, choose the option they think best meets their criteria and helps add to an artist’s portfolio.

These ideas and examples are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to art and crowdsourcing. Do you have any ideas for a project you would like to have crowdsourced? Share your thoughts with us!


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Since launching My Starbucks Idea, Starbucks has implemented 100 ideas. That’s 100 new things at Starbucks that wouldn’t exist today if it weren’t for crowdsourcing. On top of that, there’s hundreds of thousands of ideas that have been posted to MyStarbucksIdea.com. It makes me wonder how many opportunities other companies are missing out on by not engaging and empowering their “crowd”.

Product (and Brand) Promotion

Crowdsourcing gives companies a chance to promote their products through the voices of their consumers. New products are easily promoted through crowdsourcing, as companies reach out to their “crowd” to hear what they have to say about what they want to see. When consumers know that a company is listening and implementing ideas that originate through crowdsourcing, their loyalty to the brand strengthens, as consumers start to feel like they are part of the development of something great.

Due to the social nature of crowdsourcing, word spreads quickly- and easily, about a new product or product idea. This spread generates hype about a product, gets people talking, ultimately impacting the power of the brand. Check out the blog post “The Top 10 Crowdsourced Ads,” on AdverClast. The post provides examples of companies, such as MasterCard and Lenovo, that have used consumer content to promote the company or its products.

Open Up To Opportunity

Crowdsourcing makes it easier to:

  • Know what your customers are thinking- face it, you’re not a mind reader! Give them a chance to tell you how they feel.
  • Collect feedback from those using your products or services- find out what they like and don’t like in order to make improvements to your offerings.
  • Address complaints and concerns- respond immediately to dissatisfied customers. Let them know when changes are made, issues are solved or any other action taken to make their problem better.
  • Get new ideas- crowdsourcing allows you to interact with your “crowd” and get their input. The more minds the merrier. Crowdsourcing also allows you to see which ideas get the most support, making it easier to decide on what ideas should become reality.

Go on, get people talking… and thinking!!

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Crowdsourcing isn’t new, neither is collaboration. Crowdsourcing applications offer endless possibilities for businesses in any industry. Crowdsourcing helps you engage your communities online and then track and analyze the crowd’s ideas, preferences and trends. However, in order to truly understand how crowdsourcing can benefit your business, you’ll want to get a better grasp on the features of a crowdsourcing app. This post will focus on helping you better understand how crowdsourcing works.

1. Power to the People

Improve decision making, overcome challenges and implement ideas your “crowd” wants to see. Crowdsourcing gives you the ability to understand what is important to your target market – bringing ideas and people together. For example, Salesforce’s IdeaExchange gives Salesforce customers the opportunity to get involved and influence the development of the next generation of their products.

2. Post, Comment and Vote

Crowdsourcing makes it easier to be heard. Posting an idea is quick and painless. Using our Salesforce example from above, Salesforce customers simply click the “Post an Idea” button, login and post their idea. From there, people can come to the site and promote, demote or comment on proposed ideas. Different applications use different terminologies to vote for an idea: like/dislike, promote/demote, thumbs up/thumbs down- either way, your votes matter. Aside from voting, you can also contribute to an idea by commenting on it. Provide additional solutions or insight, ask questions or simply communicate your love for an idea.

3. Going Social

Spread the word. Ramp up support for a cause or an idea by sharing it on social sites such as Twitter and Facebook. On IdeaExchange, you’ll notice that when you click on an idea, there’s a tweet button below each idea- just like the ones you find on blogs and other news sites.

4. Take Action

Show your crowd you’re listening. When a campaign ends, implement the ideas with the most votes or points. Salesforce does a great job communicating with their “crowd” to let them know which ideas have been implemented. Why is it important to report on ideas that have been implemented? Well, it’s simple. If you don’t communicate with your crowd and show them that you’ve been listening, they’ll likely stop contributing. The whole point of crowdsourcing is to be responsive to your customers or your crowd, and let them have a say. Bottom line: let your crowd know that they are making a difference.

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