The term “crowdsourcing” has become a popular term used by essentially everyone in the business world. Some of the prep work that went into writing Running the Gauntlet required me to turn to some of the smartest people I know and asked them to answer broad questions about being agents of change. That’s better than crowdsourcing; that’s “friendsourcing”. If you’ve read Running the Gauntlet, then you’ll know what I mean by friendsourcing. It’s the little brother of crowdsourcing, the one that loves to run up and get in your personal bubble.
Essentially, friendsourcing is reaching out to your most valued advisors (the people you really know) and finding out what they think. If crowdsourcing is about asking the universe their opinion, then friendsourcing is about trust. With social media being one of the most personal ways to reach customers, crowdsourcing isn’t the most effective marketing approach anymore. It can’t be. Case in point: what’s the first thing you do when you try a new product or service and you love it or hate it? You tell your friends! Consumers aren’t listening to marketers or slick ads or fancy billboards… Sure, it may have given them the idea to look into it but when it comes to buying products, using services, and trying new things, friends listen to friends. It’s the best form of advertising you can get (or worst, depending on if your product or service really sucked).
I friendsourced for answers to questions for the back of my book, but think bigger. What else can friendsourcing effect? Change agents… The playing field is changing as we know it. Facebook’s new Social Graph, Facebook and Twitter teaming up with Bing, and Google’s Social Search are all prime examples of how friendsourcing is the next big thing. Heck, it’s already here! Adapt, change, or die. Brands either have to prepare ahead of time for this and make moves now, or will be forced to play catch up. They need to start less pre-packaged and paid and more personal. Think bigger than just selling to consumers, have your consumers sell for you. The more people who are talking about your brand, the more likely their friends and their friends’ friends are going to see your brand.