Ask contacts to provide insights and string those pearls of wisdom together.
Crowdsourcing an article refers to the practice of soliciting and compiling insights from market leaders in a thoughtful discussion. The article usually includes a comprehensive overview that incorporates contrasting perspectives.
This content creation strategy is a way for you to:
- Share timely ideas;
- Promote best practices;
- Connect with industry professionals.
WII-FM (What’s in It for ME?)
As the author, you will ease your research burden, because most of the ideas are being provided by the participants. This thought-gathering expedites the writing process. In addition, you will:
- Get an introduction to a new subject and take a brief deep dive into the material;
- Build a stronger relationship with these sources;
- Promote yourself as an authority and someone who is in the know.
WII-FT (What’s in It for THEM?)
The busy professionals you contact have the opportunity to contribute with limited effort on their part. What are their goals when they reply with some thoughts?
- Their name and the name of their business are mentioned, perhaps in an industry publication read by clients, prospects and referral sources;
- They are seen in the company of other experts and peers;
- They retain control over the content, because their ideas are submitted by email, unlike an interview where their remarks are captured in notes and subject to error in transcription.
Ask People You Know Well — or Virtually
If you have a substantive question on best practices and are not sure who to ask or how to get started with crowdsourced content, you have two options. You may crowdsource from people you already know well and also from those with whom you have a passing acquaintance. Be sure your request is brief and the benefit to the respondent is clearly stated.
Recently, I proposed a series of crowdsourced articles to The New York Law Journal on business issues of interest to attorneys with a solo practice. The first topic was selecting an office; options included home-based, subtenant, co-working space and office suite. Each category was to be explored in terms of its pluses and minuses: quiet solitude, camaraderie, location, networking, perks and expense, among other aspects.
I recruited respondents among attorneys who are members of a networking group I attend. The lawyers contributed thoughtful replies to multiple facets of the subject. I carefully compared these answers as I wove them together; here is the resulting article.
Subsequently, several contributors shared the article on their social media accounts. They also promoted the fact that they were quoted in a prestigious industry publication.
You can crowdsource ideas from people you know, as well as those you know only virtually. Once, I posed a question on best practices for LinkedIn on my profile and also in a LinkedIn discussion group. I cited 10 LinkedIn coaches who I hoped would respond; each had corresponded with me in the past, but I had met only a few face to face.
LinkedIn notified these coaches that I had mentioned their names. As active users of LinkedIn, they saw the value of answering my question. Their insights would be seen by their own connections, as well as mine and those of the other contributors, plus the members of the discussion group. Most of the LinkedIn coaches replied and their ideas offered contrasting views.
Later, I individually thanked each commenter and also requested (and received) permission to cite their remarks in my monthly newsletter. I aggregated their answers and rounded out the discussion here.
This Month’s Tip
Offer value to the crowdsourced participant. When inviting the attorneys to provide ideas for the law practice article, I explicitly stated that their name, law firm name and a brief phrase about their practice would be included in the article. Similarly, I indicated my newsletter would include a link to the websites of the LinkedIn coaches who gave permission to cite their remarks. This approach underscored the benefits to the attorneys and to the coaches.
Do you have a question for your target audience that might spark a range of responses? Contact me at 212.677.5770 or email at Janet@JanetLFalk.com.
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