By Joe Pulizzi published November 30, 2009

Crowdsourcing Content Marketing – Oxymoron or Killer App?

Thanks to Rick Liebling, a long-time Junta42 supporter, for this provocative guest post.  Connect with Rick @eyecube.

While those of us who are believers in Content Marketing have been diligently spreading the word, proponents of crowdsourcing have been screaming from the rooftops with all the subtlety of a tent show revival about the buzzword of 2010. But is crowdsourcing really all its cracked up to be? Can brands really harness it to their benefit? As a marketer your resources, both human and financial, are limited, so where should you be looking to shift your time and money?

It’s important to understand what Content Marketing and Crowdsourcing are, what they can (and can’t do) and how they can be used (and misused). I think the biggest area of, if not confusion then perhaps misunderstanding, is with crowdsourcing.  Right now a lot of brands are using crowdsourcing like a cudgel instead of a scalpel. They are trying to grab as many consumers as possible, throw a challenge, any challenge, at them and see if they can catch lightning in a bottle.

Is that how you would crowdsource open-heart surgery? What about automotive engine repair? Of course not. You’d try to gather a large selection of pre-qualified people for the specific task at hand. So, if you are a brand marketer and you want to produce effective, relevant content marketing, and you want to do so via crowdsourcing, you have to look at this from a different perspective.

You need to be more strategic and a little more thoughtful. Whether your product is a mass product or has a very specific target, you can identify a niche consumer. Sure, everybody loves your fizzy beverage, but maybe you want to target college students. Why open your crowdsourcing contest to everyone then? Why not target college kids and more importantly, make the content relevant to college kids. How about crowdsourcing live music reviews from college campuses all around the country. This would engage your target consumer with relevant content and eliminate submissions from sources you don’t want and aren’t targeted.

The real power of crowdsourcing is in focusing on a group of experts, not a group of generalists. If you’re a brand marketer who is a believer in content marketing but hears the siren call of crowdsourcing, go for it, but be smart.

Author: Joe Pulizzi

Joe Pulizzi considers himself the poster boy for content marketing. Founder of the Content Marketing Institute , Joe evangelizes content marketing around the world through keynotes, articles, tweets and his books, including best-selling Epic Content Marketing (McGraw-Hill) and the new book, Content Inc. Check out Joe's two podcasts. If you want to get on his good side, send him something orange. For more on Joe, check out his personal site or follow him on Twitter @JoePulizzi.

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