Start Up Blog

UGC & Crowd Sourcing – Beware the Homer mobile

There is plenty of buzz around UGC (User Generated Content), Crowd Sourcing and Mass Customization at the moment. And the truth is I am a sucker for it. I embrace it, love it and really believe it is an economic revolution. In fact many of the new features we’ve implemented on rentoid have been at the suggestions of our members…. but there is a downside.

We need to be aware that not every consumer knows what they are talking about, and not every idea we get from the crowd happens to be a good one. The crowd can get it wrong occasionally. Yep – there are people out there with ideas that just might send you broke if implemented.

If we are building a forum for people to create & share their own stuff on like Youtube or Etsy – that’s when it’s a cool idea to let the crowd take over. That’s when it’s cool to build the forum and get the hell out of the way. But when it comes to them designing and creating products for others – we need to keep our heads. In fact if there is one piece of advice startup blog can give is know which business you are in:

A) Are you building a forum for them to connect on?

or

B) Are you building a product for them – with their input?

If you are doing the latter – that’s when you need to be wary of the Homer mobile.

Instead, what we need to do when we want the crowds input is look to our “lead user group”. The lead user group is our base of fans who are knowledgeable, expert, style leaders or simply influential. These are the people we need to listen to when UGC is part of the mix, but not the whole story.

2 Responses

Subscribe to comments with RSS.

  1. Brent said, on October 1, 2008 at 12:52 pm

    I think you’ve confused the concept of ‘crowd-sourcing’.

    The framework for crowd-sourcing, based on the infamous “The Wisdom of Crowds” book, does actually advise against the issues you’ve outlined. It also suggests not listening to a “lead user group”, for well evidenced reasons. I’d encourage you to read this book to learn about the ‘correct way’ to crowd source.

    I feel like an academic wanker telling you to read the book before criticising the concept. However, I was once very sceptical and found that many of my issues with the concept, which are similar to yours, were actually addressed very intelligently in James Surowiecki’s book.

  2. Steve said, on October 1, 2008 at 2:07 pm

    hey brent,

    I understand the concepts very clearly and have no confusion.

    From the post above…“I embrace it, love it and really believe it is an economic revolution. In fact many of the new features we’ve implemented on rentoid have been at the suggestions of our members…. but there is a downside.”

    – The point of this blog post is that certain businesses are geared for pure crowd sourcing – As discussed business type (A). But others requiring crowd input – Business type (B) need to be careful about ‘who’ they listen to. The real question – is which type of business are we in? And who are the real “thought leaders” from our tribe?

    Steve.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 1,204 other followers