Crowdsourcing: What Is It And What Does It Mean For Radio?
April 7, 2015
What better place to look up the definition of "crowdsourcing" than Wikipedia, the crowdsourced encyclopedia. It offers this definition:
"Crowdsourcing is the process of obtaining needed services, ideas, or content by soliciting contributions from a large group of people, and especially from an online community, rather than from traditional employees or suppliers."
To a certain extent, radio stations have been crowdsourcing on-air content ever since we developed the ability to record phone calls and put them on the air. The ability to quickly splice tape and put a phone call on the air meant that the on-air content was no longer just limited to what our own employees said, but what the audience members said as well.
Of course, the rise of the internet has taken crowdsourcing to a whole new level. Many of today's biggest online companies don't create content, they provide a platform for other people to create content. For example, ABC, NBC, CBS, FOX, and HBO create content, but YouTube crowdsources it. Yelp!... Facebook… Twitter…all businesses built on content that is created by people who are not employees.
In other words, crowdsourcing has turned everybody into a content creator.
So what are media companies — who have historically specialized in creating high quality content — to do when suddenly everybody is a content creator?
Here are my suggestions for media companies — specifically radio stations — in a crowdsourced world:
- Create more content. The amount of content available to the public is increasing at an exponential rate. This is not the time to be cutting back on your content. If your focus is on shorter breaks, fewer interviews, decreased bits, etc., then you are moving in the opposite direction of the rest of the world. You need to produce more, not less.
- Make your content available in more formats. Audio content has proved a tougher nut for online companies to crack than video or text, largely because the way people consume it is different (they are usually multi-tasking while listening to audio content). This has actually given radio some breathing room, because new technologies have been slower to disrupt audio than other types of media. But this does not mean radio can rest on its laurels. To stay relevant, radio stations need to produce all types of content, including video, photo, and text content. The same content should often be available in different formats. For example, an artist interview should be available as an mp3 file, a Soundcloud link, a YouTube video, a transcript in a blogpost, and even a slideshow on SlideShare.
- Recognize that quantity matters more than quality. When people have a few choices for content, being the best matters. When people have lots of choices, being the most conveniently available matters. If you've ever wasted a Saturday morning watching a Real Housewives marathon just because it was on, you know what I'm talking about.
- But that doesn't mean the content can suck. A lot of good content is better than a little great content. But don't misinterpret that to mean that a lot of crappy content is better than a lot of good content.
- Make your content easy to share and easy to find. This is where radio stations get hung up, because audio content is much less likely to be shared over social media or discovered through search engines. So take another look at point #2 above.
- Get your listeners to create content for you. It's time to take this principle a step beyond simply allowing listeners to call in. Set up contests that encourage them to take photos or create videos which you can post on your website. Reward them for remixing songs, texting in jokes, or writing guest blogposts. Fight crowdsourcing with crowdsourcing.