SXSW 10 session notes: Crowd sourcing innovative social change


Another day at SXSW, and a good seminar on crowd sourcing and not-for-profits. The ‘Crowd sourcing innovative social change’ session saw Amy Sample Ward, Beth Kanter and others talking about how to use crowd sourcing in a not-for-profit environment, not for fund raising or marketing, but for service and programme delivery. One interesting distinction was between a ‘crowd’ and a ‘community’ and how this impacts the model you use.

As with other SXSW sessions, rather than reproduce the conversations after the event, here are the hand-drawn notes taken during the session itself.


SXSW: Crowd sourcing innovative social change session notes

You can also see Amy’s presentation from the session here:

Crowdsourcing for Social Change
View more presentations from Amy Sample Ward.

Read all our posts from SXSW

Social Media Case study: Vitamin Water’s newest flavour created by Facebook fans


vitaminwater-connectVitamin Water’s latest flavour, launching in March this year, was developed and named by the brand’s Facebook fans. The black cherry and lime flavoured drink will be called ‘Connect’ and one Facebook fan, Sarah from Illinois, won $5,000 for her role in developing this new product.

The competition was interesting and unique in that it used Facebook fans to develop all aspects of the product:

  • Choosing the flavour - over the summer Facebook fans were able to monitor and add to buzz about different flavours. The more chatter about a flavour online, the higher it was rated on the Facebook page. And by mid-September the most ten talked-about flavours were put to Facebook fans for them to vote for their favourite. This is a good example of using a community to help sort and rank ideas in a co-creation process. Fans couldn’t create their own flavours from scratch, but could influence the top 10 flavours and then vote for the best.
  • Designing the packaging - when the flavour had been selected (in October last year), the Facebook fans were able to use the app to design the packaging - the look and feel, the blurb and colours used on the label. Fans could collaborate with up to two more Facebook friends to develop the packaging and the final winners were chosen by a panel of experts.
  • Naming the product - alongside the packaging and look-and-feel, Facebook Fans were asked to name the product. The team who created the winning name would be given a prize of $5,000.

This is a great example of co-creation and working with your customers and fans to help to develop your product. Using experts from the brand at critical input stages - choosing the original flavours that could be shortlisted and then selected, and reviewing and agreeing on the winning product design and name. The community was used to help shortlist and select the flavour to be produced, and to create a range of options for the design and name of the product itself. Many brands would be anxious of allowing consumers to create a product like this, but at every stage the brand and consumers were playing different roles and doing different things. It is true that some of the best and most intelligent people don’t work for your company (whoever you are) and so working with them in a controlled but creative way like this can have great results.

And for the more than one million Fans of of the Vitamin Water Facebook Page, they feel like they have had real involvement in the development of the new product. That’s one million people who feel ownership of this product. One million potential purchasers when it launches.

Read more of our Social Media Case Studies

FreshNetworks Blog: Top five posts in November


Five inches
Image by slambo_42 via Flickr

At FreshNetworks we aim to bring you the best posts in social media, online communities and customer engagement online. In case you missed them, find below our top five posts in October.

1. Google Wave vs Twitter at conferences

There has been a lot of talk and discussion of Google Wave as it has spread though invites. For many people the immediate response is: “I’m here; what now?”. In our most popular post in November, Charlie looked at one example of how Google Wave can be used to add real value: as a conference back-channel. We show how at the Ecomm conference delegates were provided with Google Wave accounts. What resulted was a fantastic showcase of collaboration and crowd-sourcing.

2. How to use Twitter Lists as a free social media monitoring tool

Twitter Lists are great. They are adding real and valuable functionality to Twitter and changing the way that people can use the service. In this post we look specifically at how Twitter Lists can be used as a free social media monitoring tool. How you can use them to track promoters and detractors of your brand and know what they are saying and feeling in real time.

3. PhotoSketch or Sketch2Photo, it rocks

A great app developed by five Chinese students at Tsinghua University and the National University of Singapore. It allows you to turn a simple drawing into a photo. There is clearly always a big jump between a video showcase and a working proposition, but it certainly looks good so far.

4. Live TV and real-time chat: X Factor and Strictly Come Dancing

Watching TV is almost always a social experience. Whether it’s people in the room, friends on the phone, Facebook, Twitter or in forums or chat. People talk to people about what they see on TV. In this post we highlight two ways in which Live TV shows in the UK (namely X Factor and Strictly Come Dancing) are using real time chat and online communities to support their live broadcasts. We look at what they are doing and why they might be doing this.

5. Russian social network plans global roll-out

Back in September, we posted about the success of Russian social network VKontakte (В контакте). The site serves 1.4 billion page views each day to its 42 million users, and attracts 14 million unique visitors each month. In one of the most engaged and fastest-growing social networking markets in the world, it is a force to be reckoned with. At the start of September, Vedomosti (Ведомости), the Russian business newspaper, had reported that VKontakte had registered the domain and plans to begin marketing the social network in twelve new markets globally before the end of 2010. One to watch next year.

Google Wave vs Twitter at conferences


Image courtesy of Shutterstock

Image courtesy of Shutterstock

Twitter has quickly become the must-have channel for conference back-chat. Reading what other people tweet during a speech provides an extra dimension as you get a sense of what the audience is thinking. And just like passing notes in class, it’s also a lot more fun than simply sitting and listening. (and empowering - remember that Facebook interview from SXSW’08?)

Twitter is also a great way to attend a conference without actually being there - just follow a conference hashtag (e.g. #smib09 or #figarodigital) and find out all the gossip and the key points from the comfort of your desk.

But watch out Twitter. Google Wave is going to take this digitally-enabled conference back-channel a step further.

At the recent Ecomm conference delegates were provided with Google Wave accounts. What resulted was a fantastic showcase of collaboration and crowd-sourcing. Sprinkeled with a good dose of integrated offline and online real-time social media.   <- way too many social media buzzwords.

Here’s what happened: an audience member would create a Google Wave and others in the audience would edit the wave during the presentation. The result would be a crowd-sourced write-up of the presentation: a transcript of key points and a record of audience comments.
Here’s an example:

1. Audience member starts a Wave

google wave edits

2. Others join and edit the wave as the speaker talks

google wave edit1

3. By the end of the talk there are lots of people using the Wave (their photos are along the top) and the Wave became a complete record of the key points plus audience commnets below.

google wave finished
For this conference the organisers created a Wave directory so that you could find what was said in each presentation.

google wave conference schedule

The organisers also added waves so that the audience could give feedabck about the conference in general and ideas for next year.

google wave conference feedback

It’s worth pointing out that Twitter is still an early-adopter phenomenon, and Google Wave even more so. As a result, whilst I am a complete junkie for following conference tweets, I suspect it’s going to take a couple of years before this goes mainstream. But it will. And the impact on conference organisers and speakers is significant.

And just in case you are new to social media, make sure you check out the other excelent social media platform for conference notes: Slideshare. This is always the best place to find presentations from conferences.

Have you tried following conference tweets? Or waves? If so, have you found them useful? and will augmented reality will be the next major influence?

Crowdsourcing - does the customer know best?


We’ve written a lot in the past about co-creation, from Mass Customisation to Community Product Design. In some of the more devloped examples of co-creating with customers crowdsourcing is common - getting feedback and ideas from customers, the people who know your product best.

The online communities that we build and manage at FreshNetworks make use of crowd-sourcing for innovation and insight. We use them to help clients create better experiences when on holiday, or to come up with ways of marketing a product better. Other brands are also making use of their crowd - from Oxfam looking for a new slogan to Starbucks wanting to improve its product - it’s a technique that is being used more and more, possibly because social media now gives us the tools and the audience to do it easily.

An article in today’s Guardian (The customer knows best) looks at how crowdsourcing is being used by brands (and has an interview with our CEO Charlie). As the article points out, getting ideas and feedback from users is not new (they cite the example of the Oxford English Dictionary in the 19th century) but social media tools and, more importantly, their growth and common acceptance, is making it easier and quicker to seek ideas and opinions from customers. It’s also making it easier for smaller businesses to capitalise upon the power the crowd can bring. As the Guardian notes:

The evidence from Starbucks and P&G shows that some of the world’s biggest companies can easily engage a crowd. Smaller businesses, naturally, find it much harder to source an army of volunteers, let alone get them to engage with their brand. Recently, however, a relaunched service from Amazon - a pioneer of customer generated reviews - is creating a market that might be able connect the two. Companies subscribed to its Mechanical Turk ( service can post simple tasks, such as image tagging, data collection, basic market research and product comparison, and offer to pay potential click-workers a few pence to complete them.

This is a real sign that crowdsourcing is becoming both more available and more widely accepted - more business (big and small) can make more use of their customers in this way.

Of course opening up your business to ideas and comments can throw up challenges - what happens if you get negativity as well as those positive useful comments we all expect. This is of course true, but as  Charlie is quoted as saying in the article:

…some companies are “definitely nervous” about this new, more open form of business, especially in terms of “opening themselves up to positive and negative criticism online and encouraging debate with their customers who aren’t happy.” He says that the evidence is to the contrary. In his experience, most people who participate online want to be positive

Crowdsourcing offers real benefits to businesses large and small and the evidence is that more and more people are experimenting with it. We expect that this kind of engagement will become even more mainstream in the coming year and even that pretty soon customers will expect to engage in this way.

  • Lessons in community from community editors #3: Andrew Rogers, RBI
  • - Crowdsourcing Video Platform
  • Solving real world problems through online social networks
  • Mechanical Turk Targets Small Business

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