Creatively Crowdsourcing Through Social Media

By Amy Slife Social media and crowdsourcing are two concepts that in combination can be very powerful. Social media enables companies to connect with their consumers in a two-way communication environment that goes beyond typical advertising or straight enter-to-win contests and promotions. One of the latest trends being incorporated is crowdsourcing the ideas and mind power of brand loyalists in order to create new products.

We’ve seen the likes of both Dunkin Donuts and Mountain Dew employing the brainpower of the consumers in order to generate ideas for new menu items or special flavors. Earlier this year Dunkin Donuts ran their second Create Dunkins Next Donut contest after a very successful foray into fan created donuts last year. Last year’s donut creation contest generated more than 130,000 submissions and this year’s contest generated 90,000 donut submissions with the winning special-time-offered flavors voted upon by fans. This year’s winning flavor will be announced on June 4, National Donut Day. Similarly, Mountain Dew employed a fan flavor generated contest with their two stage DEWmocracy project. Three new flavors were created and voted upon by fans as experimental flavors added to their soda lineup. With these three flavors hitting the shelves last month, Mountain Dew fans have until mid-June to vote on the next Mountain Dew flavor. Each of the three flavors has its own Facebook page, Twitter account and “Flavor Nation” (a street team of sorts) to help spread the social word on these new flavors, and encourage social media sharing and voting.

Most recently, Papa John’s pizza has employed the mind power of their most passionate consumers via Facebook with their Papa’s Specialty Pizza Challenge. This campaign tasks fans with creating their own specialty pizza which entails selecting the crust, sauce, toppings, a name for the pie and the story behind their pie in 250 words. Their creation is posted to the Papa John’s Facebook page where other fan members can like and share the different pizzas. Pizza lovers have until June 14 to enter their submission which will then be judged on a number of categories such as taste of the final product, overall appeal and creativity of the name and story behind the creation. After a semi-final round the company will select three finalists whose pizza creations will be placed on the menu in August. The pizza with the most orders, which are being considered votes, is deemed the grand prize winner, reaping benefits like a lifetime supply of pizza in the form of a monthly gift card and a number of other items.

Social media product crowdsourcing initiatives like those of Dunkin Donuts, Mountain Dew and Papa John’s work because they go above and beyond by allowing the consumer to have a hand in the final product. For any passionate brand loyalist, who doesn’t want to be able to brag about creating a specialty pizza, donut or soda flavor to their friends and family, of course the contest prizes are great way to encourage participation too.

What do you think of brands using social media to crowdsource new product ideas or flavors? Can you think of any other brands that are employing similar initiatives? Share with us!