Move over outsourcing, make way for crowdsourcing!

By Ayesha Shuaib

Published in The Express Tribune, April 25th, 2011

The new way to get things done is to get the people involved. DESIGN: ESSA MALIK

We have all heard of outsourcing. This was the buzzword in the 90s, and was more often heard in conjunction with the IT industry, but is a factor in almost any industry around the world today. But if there is any aspect of the industry which is ever-evolving and finding new ways to get the message across and get things done, it is the aspect of maximising output and minimising input. And crowd sourcing fits right into that philosophy.

Crowd sourcing is the act of taking a task traditionally performed by an employee or contractor, and outsourcing it to an undefined, generally large group of people, in the form of an open call. Put in laymen’s terms, it’s the idea of taking a job you need done and making it available for anyone who wants to just show up and do it – preferably for free.

The most common scenario for a crowd source project starts with a company with a problem. The company posts the problem on a crowd sourcing platform and requests solutions from the widely distributed Web community. Users upload solutions and the crowd votes on the best idea or project.

Engaging your fans is the fundamental aim of crowd sourcing. There are many brands locally which adapted crowedsourcing as a marketing tool and have been immensely successful. There are numerous examples and success stories in the local market as well, proving that this is indeed a very efficient way of getting the job done.

Make an Ad
One such event that we launched for one of our clients was a “Make the Ad” competition. We asked our fans to make an electronic ad about one of our products. We announced attractive gifts for winners and runners up. That worked really well as a marketing tool for our clients and we received numerous ads. In order to indulge the fans further they were asked to vote for the top eight ads. Again, the voting lead to engaging fans who themselves were not directly related to the competition. This activity was extended for more than a month which got us an ad, which we wanted; it got us thousands of fans and also generated lively interaction.

Talent Hunt
In October 2010, a leading tea manufacturing company rolled out a ‘”Talent Hunt”, running a competition in multiple universities, with a task to build a fan page consistent with the brand’s tagline. With competing teams chosen from seven leading business universities, the registration process accepted all the business plans submitted within the allocated budget for executing a social media campaign within three weeks. It instantly became a hit due its specific target market, the educational institutes with the highest number of social media users.

Ad War
In another such exercise, a leading university in collaboration with a fast food chain, launched an interuniversity ad-making competition.

Students were invited to make an electronic ad of the brand and get a chance of winning Rs50,000 in cash. The campaign was promoted on Social Media fan pages and groups of not only the university but also the brand. Each participant further helped in promoting the campaign by posting the ads and updates on their personal social media profiles.

This proved to be a huge success as student life does comprises eating out with friends and having fun – hence the strategy of crowd sourcing hit a bulls eye by selecting the best target audience. Their idea of crowd sourcing worked really well for them.

Pre Launch Campaign
One of Pakistan’s Leading cellular company launched it self with the help of crowdsourcing. Announcements were made through electronic as well as print media asking the audience to suggest a name for the brand. It ran a campaign for almost a month and then finally came up with a name as suggested by the audience with maximum number of votes. This activity gained the brand a lot of customers even before being actually launched.

The crowdsourcing possibilities have increased over the last two decades as web applications have improved. It has become very easy to access your clients directly and get a feedback in a minimum span of time. Thanks to social media, it’s become easier to ask your customers to contribute to product development or collaborate on other creative endeavors. Not only is it doable, it’s been done, and with great success, by major brands. It not only builds a strong relationship between consumers and the products but makes the consumer feel like a part of the brand as well.

Hence, you can very easily out source your competitors by rightly crowd-sourcing.

The author is a social media officer at Prymus Technologies and regularly contributes at


One comment on “Move over outsourcing, make way for crowdsourcing!

  1. How effective do you think this strategy can be for marketers in Pakistan? Can they seek the input from their digital customers and make a product based on that and still remain relevant to the larger target audience?

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