From brands to bands
For many small to medium businesses, CrowdTogether is used as a social strategy that is centered around engagement and activation. The Austin-based company provides a free social media marketing platform built around crowdsourcing wherein companies simply creates an online contest (from apparel to video creation), opens it up for submissions, names a prize based on other members’ voting in the winner, and for free, the platform gives fans and consumers a greater sense of ownership over the brand as they engage. CrowdTogether is used by marketing managers, event promoters, entertainers and brands to activate, engage and connect with community members.
Richard Spiegel, CEO of CrowdTogether, tells AGBeat, “The music industry has been our most successful vertical market thus far.” CrowdTogether allows brands, or in this case bands, to activate and engage their fans specifically through design, photo or audio/video contests. The key here is that the tool uses a voting model to drive participation. Spiegel adds, “as a tool for bands and promoters, it’s a great way to build your community.”
An interesting concept Spiegel highlights is that organizers aren’t necessarily running the contest as a means to cut their design/production costs, rather they’re using it to activate and engage the community by giving them an opportunity to participate in the creation of a product that is meaningful to them. This is a powerful key performance indicator because as an organization/company, it costs almost nothing to get fans to become promoters.
Speigel gave an example of how organizers benefited from a previous contest, “Because it’s important to get votes if you want your design to win, the artists are motivated to promote their submission in turn driving traffic to the contest and ultimately the company’s brand. Just like the company that thinks having a social media strategy means creating a Facebook page and setting up a Twitter account, you can’t just create a contest and expect huge participation numbers; contests need to be treated like any advertising campaign.”
Because not all site participants have the experience or bandwidth to create or manage campaigns, CrowdTogether now offers professional/consulting services where they build and execute an entire campaign.
CrowdTogether fans and a new platform
It is not uncommon for existing clients to evangelize about CrowdTogether; Spiegel tells us that top evangelizers are “Those who have used the tool successfully where their expectations are met or exceeded have taken to Facebook and Twitter to give us their endorsement. Of course repeat users are most valuable because within their community of participants, there are likely users who themselves will see the value in the tool and decided to create a contest or contract with our professional services group. So obviously the mere use of the platform drives viral growth.”
Speigel is optimistic about CrowdTogether’s growth as the company will continue to offer a version of the platform as it exists today either for free or for a small usage fee. The larger revenue opportunities will come from the enterprise software suite CrowdTogether is currently building which will be utilized by agencies and brand marketing managers to deploy co-creation campaigns/communities within their web environment and will be used for product development, engagement marketing or public/private focus groups.
The idea is to lower the barrier to entry for both the brad and their community so the benefits of co-creation and crowdsourcing can be easily taken advantage of.