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Crowdsourcing That's Actually Crowdsourcing

There's been a lot of stuff in the press recently about crowdsourcing. And much of it comes down to a new, cool way to position an RFP or a focus group. So imagine my surprise when I came across this little gem from BeanCast guest, Edward Boches.

The site is called The Next Great Generation and it's clearing marketed as a side venture that's not associated with Mullen, the agency where Edward is the CCO. According to Boston.com, who did an excellent write up on the project:

"...Next Generation is described as an 'online magazine' that 'is crowdsourcing content from a growing staff off writers (80 so far) willing to share its thoughts regarding life, work, brands, technology, environment, money, faith, sex, and love. The Next Great Generation will be an opportunity for Millennial writers to develop a voice and gather a following, along with a real chance for older generations to listen, learn, even ask questions.'"

Why is this effort so different and worthy of praise? Because it balances the equation.

Too many of us look at the "wisdom of the crowd" as a one-way street. It may or may not be intentional, but we marketers tend to see crowdsourcing as a great way to get the input and insight of a large, distributed audience without having to hire all these people. So we run contests or distribute measly payouts to entice individuals to give their insights essentially for free. There's nothing wrong with this model, per se. It's just not crowdsourcing.

But The Next Great Generation model is different because it offers huge benefits for participation for all involved. Obviously for the marketers behind it, it provides rich, well-considered insights into Millennial thinking, as well as the opportunity to interact with these writers in a group setting. But the writers also have incentive. The site gives them a chance to be heard by people who could influence their career, helps them develop their own brand and maybe even gather an audience of loyal followers without needing to set up yet another nameless blog in the wilderness.

This is what true crowdsourcing is all about. It's about give and take. It's about establishing venues where all can gain wisdom from the collective thinking. And it's about giving everyone a valuable reason to participate. I'm very excited to see where this project goes.

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