Last week we talked about Merriam Webster’s word of the year for 2014, which was culture. Culture is a great word, especially when we’re talking about associations and non-profits, but another term that pervaded our thinking in 2014 and into 2015 was crowdsourcing.
If you’re not familiar with the definition of crowdsourcing, it’s the process of obtaining information or input for a particular task or project by enlisting the services of a number of people. For example, crowdsourcing can be as simple as asking a wide audience (via Twitter) what to make for dinner and receiving numerous suggested recipes for an appetizer, entrée and dessert from various people. You put these suggestions all together and get a whole meal out of it. And voilà, you have successfully crowdsourced.
Following along with the dinner analogy, your association or non-profit can make a delicious meal for its membership/community through crowdsourcing. Crowdsourcing has definite advantages, from being cheap to giving your community a voice in decisions that directly affect them. Here are just some of the ways you can get your target audience involved, engaged and part of the process by crowdsourcing content from and for social media.
Your association communicates with its members through various tools like newsletters, email blasts, blogs and, last, but certainly not least, a trade magazine. These publications need content. Sourcing or writing this content can sometimes be a pain in the unmentionables and can take up valuable time and resources. Crowdsourcing can be the answer to these problems.
Create a page on your website where members can submit ideas for blog posts or magazine articles and can volunteer to write them. Tweet or post on Facebook asking for willing authors or simply asking which issues the membership thinks are going to be important in the next few months or year. Start an Instagram, Twitter, Facebook or Pinterest hashtag where members can share photos or short insights that can be incorporated into a section of your blog, website, newsletter or magazine as a “Speaker’s Corner” type feature.
It’s someone’s job to plan your organization’s event and they probably do a very good job at it, but a little input from members is never a bad thing. Knowing which speakers, topics and social events to plan for is often done through plenty of research. Crowdsourcing, via social media, allows your organization to use the knowledge of your attendees as part of that key step.
Create a hashtag on Twitter and an event page on Facebook relatively early in order to establish an audience on each platform. Ask questions about which topics would be most interesting or advantageous to attendees. Utilize Facebook’s polling tool that allows members to vote on the best topics for the event or the entertainment for a social night/fundraiser. Urge trade show participants, volunteers from previous events or recent donors to write in with small passages on why they are part of your organization’s mission and make it into a blog post or YouTube video.
Crowdsourcing has become a popular tool for entrepreneurs and innovative minds who need some seed money for their enterprises. Non-profits and associations can take these examples and apply them to their projects and initiatives using social media as a megaphone for their efforts.
Create a crowdfunding project where members or donors can give small amounts to support a new service (such as an app for members) or a community initiative (such as building a community garden). Offer small rewards for people who give to the cause, such as 10% off registration to the next conference or a bushel of tomatoes from the garden. Unfortunately, no one can give to the crowdfunding initiative if they are unaware of it. Use social media to share the project. Make a video or an infographic about its potential impacts. Create a hashtag for it and tweet numerous times on Twitter. Use Facebook to run a contest, perhaps making entering people into a draw for an additional prize if they share a status about the crowdfunding project.