The Emergence of Crowdsourcing — a community-driven path to success

Hayley Carter
4 min readOct 11, 2020


Social media and new technologies have given us a seemingly endless number of content creation options. So, how do we choose where to begin? A great place to start is an avenue that doesn’t require a big social media team or a massive budget, but rather enlists the help of users themselves — it’s called crowdsourcing. Crowdsourcing is the process of obtaining services, ideas, or content from the contributions of a large community of people. From this process, companies hope to deliver a better-quality product and/or service.

Prior to the emergence of social media, this was a difficult task. Companies often could not devote the time and resources to gathering information by mail or in person. But now companies have 3.6 billion social media users at their fingertips and can reach a wider audience cheaper and more efficiently than ever before.

In this article, we’ll take a closer look at the benefits of crowdsourcing and three distinct ways companies have successfully utilized community-driven campaigns.


  • Marketing Buzz: One benefit of enlisting the online community for help is the fact that it gets the online community talking. The more the community talks about your company and begins working towards your initiative, the more engagement and interest results.
  • Diverse Ideas and Solutions: What better way to get ideas and solutions for your company than from consumers themselves? Whether it’s coming up with creative content or deciding on new products, the audience is able to offer a fresh set of eyes and an outcome that can’t be argued over endlessly in the boardroom.
  • Audience Data: Crowdsourcing brings your audience to you. Who is participating? What are their demographics? What platforms are they participating on? All of these questions are important pieces of data in gaining an understanding of your target audience and the best ways of reaching them moving forward. Crowdsourcing also helps you build a relationship with your audience; users participating in your campaign feel like part of the company, and that leads to higher brand loyalty.
  • Efficiency: Arguably the most important benefit of crowdsourcing is that it provides all of the benefits mentioned above in an incredibly affordable and efficient way. Not often is it possible to gather marketing buzz, ideas and solutions, AND audience data all in one swing, let alone for little to no cost or employee manpower.


Crowdsourcing has proven to be successful in a variety of ways for many companies. Let’s take a closer look at some success stories:

The Content Creator:

Doritos set the gold standard of content crowdsourcing with their decade-long “Crash the Super Bowl” commercial contest. Each year contestants submitted their own commercials for a chance to earn a hefty cash prize and see their ad played on one of the world’s biggest stages. Over the 10-year period, Doritos received over 32,000 submissions and gained a tremendous amount of engagement, publicity, and brand loyalty along the way.

The Product Chooser:

One of the most notable product-choosing campaigns has been Lay’s “Do Us a Flavor” competition, where contestants could submit the next great Lay’s potato chip flavor. During the company’s initial ten-month campaign, it received 3.8 million submissions, over 22.5 million Facebook page visits, and experienced a sales uplift of +12% year over year. These successful results led Lay’s to launch the campaign globally, and it also led to many other companies launching their own product-choosing campaigns (M&Ms, Mountain Dew, etc).

The Service Provider:

Because of technological advances, companies are able to rely on crowdsourcing for entire business models. Airbnb and Uber are two examples of crowdsourced hospitality and transportation that are transforming the marketplace. Both companies rely on people from communities around the world to offer their homes and driving services to paying customers. Because these companies have become a massive success, more and more companies are beginning to follow the collaborative economy model.


Crowdsourcing has a number of functions and benefits. We can break down the success stories and their figures all we want, but even the ones that don’t reach the magnitude of a Lay’s 12% sales hike still serve a purpose. By engaging a community of users, you create that marketing buzz, you gain insight into ideas and solutions you may have otherwise not seen, you learn about your audience and from your audience, and you do so for an affordable cost.

So, next time you’re deciding from one of the endless content options at your disposal, maybe try asking first.