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?
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.