Barriers to Involvement in Crowd Sourcing and how to overcome them.

Last week Red Bull X Fighters launched a crowd sorcing marketing campaign to promote the upcoming events around Europe.  "All" you had to do was download loads of video clips and sound files, review them, edit them together into a 30 TV spot, upload the video to Youtube and fill out an application form.  Why would any one go to all that time and effort to make something that Dave (the TV Station) already pays professional editors to do?  I'll answer below but first you can take a look at my entry:

(In this video I was experimenting with the Data Mosh Technique with mixed results.  The "clean" version is at the end of this post.)

The barriers to involvement in contests like these are not trivial but can be over come them by offering one or more of the following three motivations:

1.  Cash or Big Prizes.

This one needs little explanation and is how most traditional lotteries, competitions and contests work.  It is also how a number of new crowd sourcing businesses such as 99 Designs are run.  Simply put, the higher the value of the prize, the more entries you can expect.


2.  Respect, Bragging Rights or Peer Recognition.

More subtle than the first but more significant when it comes to crowd sourcing creative projects.  Take a look at the b3ta website which is based entirely on member created content created mainly for sharing with like minded people (though there are some prize based contests available).  Many podcasts and internet shows ask their listeners to contribute music, software, artwork or even money to improve the show for everyone.  A shout out on the show and thanks on the forums is enough of a reward for loyal fans to get involved.
The problem which arises with contests like the Red Bull X Fighters campaign is the lack of a pre existing peer group.  This greatly reduces the number of people willing to get involved in the first place.


3.  An experience which develops them as a person.

This experience can either be the process of creating the contest content it's self.  Or it couldbe part of the prize.  Or both. 

These experiences are something money can't buy and, if the participant wants to develop professionally, will be more rewarding than hard cash or even peer recognition.  I made the two X Fighters videos above because I had been looking for footage to experiment with the Data Mosh technique, not because I'm particularly interested in the prizes.  I've entered contests in the past for similar reasons, usually to test out a new idea or just to motivate me to get creative again.
Mofilm, a company which helps filmmakers create videos for big brands and social causes, often includes a meeting with Oscar winning filmmakers as part of their prize package.  Being able to talk through future project ideas and scripts with experienced filmmakers like these is often more productive than adding a few grand to a film budget.

So in conclusion, if you want to run a crowd sourcing marketing campaign don't just rely on big prizes.  Think about what else you can offer the participants which will over come the barriers to participation.  Could you find a filmmaker/editor to offer feedback on each film submitted?  What about a trial of one of your products witch is currently in development?  Can you tap into an existing community like Ecotricity has done with b3ta?

To punch above your financial weight, get creative with the contest process and offer something unique to your business or organisation.


Thanks to the Digital Buzz Blog for bringing this to my attention.

Here's the clean version of my Red Bull X Fighters contest entry: