Crowdsourcing content works on the theory that work produced by interested individuals will create an involved and engaged community of users. This ready-made market will help to disseminate the content deeper than could be achieved with a traditional content approach, using a diverse audience that trusts the opinion of key influencers in their circle of friends and followers.

This technique provides powerful engagement, and positions your business as an authority at the centre of the community. The content created by this community is seen as more credible than purely business created work, as consumers are more likely to trust their peers than a company selling a product. Just as a personal recommendation is a powerful tool for people looking for a mechanic or a plumber, or buying a television, when choosing what content to read and engage with, the same principle applies.

The benefits of crowdsourcing content

While no one can possibly know your brand as well as you and your employees, every industry is the sum of its users and creators combined. Often, when it comes to the wider industry trends and details, customers will have a more objective and wider view of the complete picture.

  • Cost

Crowdsourcing your content is inexpensive as it is rarely paid work. Instead, it is given for the promise of exposure, credit and sometimes a backlink. None of this costs a cent to the company, however the expense comes in the time spent moderating and proofreading the submissions. This is still often cheaper than the cost of a full-time writing department, but it does depend on finding the right people, which can be the hardest part.

  • Speed

There are never enough hours in the day when you’re a business owner. Creating content is time consuming and small businesses don’t have the luxury of a large workforce to devote to writing and disseminating content, and even larger companies can find themselves stretched by the requirements of content creation. By removing the responsibility of creation and simply having to moderate the submissions, it frees you up to focus on the more pressing day-to-day aspects of running your business.

  • Diversity

Crowdsourcing is a valuable way to find different opinions from different backgrounds and socio-economic levels. The research required to find the depth of content that crowdsourcing can provide may be prohibitively expensive and slow for an in-house department or writer to produce. This breadth of information will further add to the perception of your business as an authority. In turn, this will also give your site more relevancy and SEO power, potentially improving your rankings, revenue and traffic.

The drawbacks of crowdsourced content

  • Poor quality entries

It is hard to predict the quality that crowdsourcing will turn up and the process of reading each submission can be time-consuming. Eventually you will develop a list of reliable, high-quality contributors, but these are often the ones that are in demand and looking for a way in to start their own freelance business or find full time work. This means you will constantly be looking for new people to ensure you have a deep pool of talent available.

The crowdsourcing approach can also lead to missing the best talent. Generally the bloggers who will give their work for exposure aren’t the cream and are looking for a way into the industry. The best creators will expect to be paid freelance rates to write and produce content.

  • Wrong direction

The voice of a brand can be a difficult thing to capture for writers that aren’t exposed to it on a daily basis. Crowdsourcing will give you many different perspectives, but it will also turn up a lot of submissions that miss the point entirely. Again, the key is to build a collection of trusted contributors who understand the tone and style you require.

  • Stolen content

Plagiarism is a hard thing to prove and while most writers and content creators won’t try to pass off the work of others as their own, a few will. Whether deliberate or not, this can lead to legal problems as well as SEO related issues with duplicate content. There are a number of tools that can help determine whether a piece of content is unique or not, however this is an extra step that further increases the investment of time and people into the moderation of the submissions.

Channels for promoting and soliciting crowdsourced content

Social media is a great tool for both promoting and soliciting content. Facebook and Twitter boast enormous networks, with a rich seam of engaged and vocal users. Once your content is in the world, these followers can be mined for feedback and fine tuning, which will eventually develop a self-regulating and self-sustaining content department without paying for one.

Guest blogging and blog hosting can create a mutually beneficial arrangement that sees your site build a strong content profile, while giving writers a platform to reach a wide audience. This mutually beneficial arrangement is the heart of platforms like Medium, LinkedIn Pulse, and Svbtle.

Find the right solution for your business

There is no single technique in marketing that will meet all the needs of your business. While crowdsourced content can help bolster your content efforts, it is still important to develop high-quality content from within your ranks. Even the best content from outside sources can’t compare in terms of insight and adherence to your brand voice and style.

Author Bio

David Pagotto is the Founder and Managing Director of SIXGUN. He has been involved in digital marketing for over 10 years, helping organisations get more customers, more reach, and more impact.

SIXGUN focuses on scaling organisational growth and building sustainable results for the long-term, with a data-driven approach to developing strategy. As a Melbourne based digital marketing agency, SIXGUN focuses on Search Engine Optimisation, Search Engine Marketing, and Social Media Marketing.

David is passionate about seeing organisations grow while working on his mission to support meaningful causes.

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