Tapping the crowd for creative input can provide a double-sided benefit for businesses: first, it unleashes a huge resource of ideas, often at little or no cost. Second, it's a powerful marketing tool, providing information about who potential customers are, and about what they like. Here are five recently spotted enterprises that make use of content from the crowd:
1. NAMING FORCE — Naming Force crowdsources name ideas for businesses, websites, and products. Clients sign up for a package of suggestions and provide a brief description of what they want named. The incentive for the community of namers is a cash prize of USD 100-500, paid by the client to the person whose idea is chosen. If the client doesn't like any of the suggestions, they're refunded the prize money. (Related: Name This.)
2. OPENFILE — Plenty of news sites carry content penned by readers, but the subjects themselves tend to be chosen by the editors. Toronto's OpenFile turns this model on its head: content is written by the site's staff, but the story suggestions come from readers. The idea is that this collaborative approach to newsgathering will uncover stories that traditional journalists might overlook, and generate content that better suits the local audience. (Related: Spot.us.)
3. HELP ME DECIDE — The makers of the Help Me Decide Facebook app argue that people trust recommendations from friends more than other advice found online. Accordingly, the app allows users to get decision-making advice from their social network. Users post a question—about anything from relationships to purchasing decisions—and then invite suggestions from people on their network. (Related: Hunch.)
4. LISTENER DRIVEN RADIO — Ohio's Listener Driven Radio makes a set of tools to help broadcasters become crowdcasters. Using LDR, a radio station's listeners can provide real-time feedback about what they're hearing—dynamically influencing the station's playlists. They can use the station's website, Twitter or mobile phones to rate songs and make requests, and this information is fed into a weighting system for the station's music library. (Related: Songza.)
5. DAN 3.0 — Taking the idea of consumers influencing what's being broadcast even further, online show Dan 3.0 launched this month. It's about a young man called Dan Brown, who for one year has allowed his audience to control his life. Viewers can submit suggestions and vote online on what they want Dan to do. Suggestions so far include writing a letter to the US president, and visiting a viewer on her birthday.
Spotters: Stefan M Grimm, Jim Stewart