Growth hacking is all about finding innovative, often experimental new ways to grow your business. One noteworthy example dates back to 2011, when Spotify partnered with Facebook, making it possible for people to post whatever music they were listening to at the time to their feed. With that simple bit of added functionality, the then fledgling music streaming service suddenly gained exposure to tens of millions of potential new customers. We all know how much the company has grown since.
But growth hacking doesn’t mean that you have to partner with a big player like Facebook. Adding a really effective pop-up to get more people to sign up for your newsletter or finding a great way to optimize your landing pages to drive up conversions are also great examples. Fundamentally, it’s about working smarter and finding creative ways to drive growth.
When it comes to your content, there are a number of different growth hacks you might consider. In this post, however, we’re going to home in on just one: crowdsourcing.
Three Ideas for Crowdsourcing Your Content
Crowdsourcing isn’t exactly a new concept, but we’ll take a moment to explain it just in case you’re not already engaging with it. Merriam Webster defines it as “the practice of obtaining needed services, ideas, or content by soliciting contributions from a large group of people and especially from the online community rather than from traditional employees or suppliers.” Basically, it’s about getting a bunch of people to help you do something, whether that’s funding development of a new product (à la Kickstarter) or figuring out how to deal with climate change (as in this example from the MIT Center for Collective Intelligence).
Crowdsourcing can be a very effective way of scaling your content marketing as well. Here are three examples of how to do so:
1. Using Comments. If you want to get your audience involved in helping to create your content, try posting a provocative question on your blog and encourage people to weigh in by leaving comments. If you can get enough people to participate, the comments effectively become the meat of the post, with you or someone on your team periodically wading into the discussion to thank participants, share feedback, and extending the conversation. And you never know if some of those comments might be interesting enough to spark other pieces of content.
The trick to making this work is that you’ve got to have a topic that lots of people will feel motivated to weigh in on. It can be helpful to prime the pump by getting some people you know to post a couple of comments early on. You might also want to tie the post to a relevant event by, for example, starting a post about content quality at our upcoming Content Connections 2017. It’s a good way to share the momentum that the event has built to fuel additional participation.
2. Holding Competitions. Another tactic for crowdsourcing content is to appeal to people’s competitive nature. For example, you might announce that you’re looking for people’s best ideas around a particular topic, offering a small prize as motivation. You could then not only turn the competition itself into a piece of content (say, a blog post to advertise what you’re doing), but also turn the submissions that you receive into an eBook, report, or whatever type of content makes sense. You could even go on to use the competition as a foot in the door to interview participants so you can create even more content.
3. Surveys and Polls. One easy way to get input for your content is to ask your audience questions. You can do so formally through a survey to a dedicated list or informally through a poll that anyone who visits your website can take. Then, using the data you collect, you can create reports, infographics, data visualizations, blog posts, and lots of other types of interesting content. The trick to getting this right is making sure you’re not just reporting back the data you receive, but also providing the much needed context and analysis to make it meaningful to your audience.
If you’re looking for ways to scale your content marketing efforts, crowdsourcing can be an effective tactic. Like any growth hack, it takes a bit of experimentation; but once you do it, it can pay serious dividends.