The Changing World of Business, Culture and Society

Crowdsourcing and “The IKEA Effect”

Photo by Sarah_Ackerman under Creative Commons

Photo by Sarah_Ackerman under Creative Commons

What is it about crowdsourcing (ideas, products, etc) in social media that makes people want to get involved and offer their input?  One of the best recent examples was the Doritos “Crash the SuperBowl” Contest.  Fans were asked to submit a 30-second video, with the prize being a $1 million if their idea hit number one on the Facebook / USA Today AdMeter.

Brands that sponsor crowdsourcing contests open themselves to receiving valuable input from their fans.  ”First of all it’s a lot cheaper, and secondly you get a lot more diversity of ideas, so those are the big advantages, and the speed – you get hundreds of ideas in a matter of four or five days” says John Winsor, author of Spark: Be more Innovative through Co-Creation. ”Great ideas come from the edges.”

Why Crowdsourcing Works – The “IKEA Effect”

People increase their belief in the value of the product when they’ve had a hand in creating it. When you buy something from IKEA, you gotta put it together yourself.  Because people are actively involved in the creation, they have the tendency to value things they made themselves more than something made by another person… even an expert. This phenomenon helps explain the psychological connection that people make with crowdsourcing contests. There is an emotional value wrapped up in the building process that instills a desire to see that a positive outcome is achieved.

Creating a social media-enabled crowdsource contest should be approached with the hand of an artist. Understanding the nuances of human dynamics require that the experience should be neither too easy or too hard. It’s the classic “Goldilocks Paradigm” where the best solution must fall somewhere between being “difficult-enough-but-not-too-difficult.”

“When instant cake mixes were introduced in the 1950s as part of a broader trend to simplify the life of the American housewife by minimizing manual labor, housewives were initially resistant: the mixes made cooking too easy, making their labor and skill seem undervalued. As a result, manufacturers changed the recipe to require adding an egg; while there are likely several reasons why this change led to greater subsequent adoption, infusing the task with labor appeared to be a crucial ingredient.”

 – Norton, Mochon and Ariely, The Journal of Consumer Psychology

How to create a successful social media crowdsource program:

  1. Create the System - Set boundaries that will lead an audience down an enjoyable path towards a positive final goal. Start with what gets people interested in the output. Ask yourself, “What incentives drive behavior towards the goal?” With American Idol, you call in and vote so you have to tune in the next time to see who wins the competition with anticipation, hoping that your vote counts toward the outcome.
  2. Selection Process – Whether the winner is chosen strictly by crowd votes or in conjunction with a panel of judges, make sure the process is clear and transparent.  Shine a spotlight on each step of the process so that the audience has the opportunity to build an emotional connection in anticipation of the outcome.  Everyone wants their “team” or their idea to win which helps capture the audience’s attention and feedback along the way during each step.
  3. Reward- A successful campaign should end with an attentive audience that has been actively engaged throughout the process from start to finish. Highlight the winner among the brand community and encourage the celebration of their victory. Make sure that you prepare post-contest plans to maintain the audience’s attention and keep the momentum going for the next event.

As a wrap-up to any extensive social media program, the organizing sponsors should take ample time to review what worked and what lessons were learned so that they can make adjustments for future programs.

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