When Crowdsourcing Works and When It Doesn't
BY LIZ TREADWELL | 2 min read

HeroX knows crowdsourcing. We’ve hosted over 100 challenges on our platform since we were founded in 2013. Some of the challenges were run completely by the sponsor, while others were primarily managed by the HeroX team. With that experience and observation, we have seen what makes these campaigns successful as well as what can make them fail. Want to learn what tips to follow and what pitfalls to avoid? You've come to the right place!

Trying out crowdsourcing for the first time can be overwhelming. We completely understand, we’ve heard it all at HeroX: there are so many unknowns! How many responses will I receive? Will any of them be good? I don’t want myself or my organization to look bad!

The biggest thing you’ll want to look at before starting crowdsourcing is the problem you’re looking to solve. This can be a bit tricky since you don’t want too broad of a scope that makes it difficult for the crowd to focus on the important areas of your problem. On the other hand, a narrow scope can limit who will actually participate. You want to “Goldilocks” your challenge to make it “just right”. You want it so the solution is not obvious, but the desired outcome is clear and measurable.

Feeling overwhelmed? Don’t get discouraged, HeroX has a team of challenge designers who are familiar with thinking this way and can help you figure out how to frame your competition to ensure its success.

The other key component is how you will promote your challenge. While you will get people who sign up and submit because they are active in crowdsourcing communities, you want to let as many participants as possible know about your competition. At HeroX, we believe solutions can come from anyone, even the most unlikely sources, so you want to cast a wide net. We recommend sharing your challenge with your network organically (e.g. posting on your LinkedIn account) as well as using social media advertising. Facebook and Twitter have great advertising platforms where you can target your challenge to audiences with certain interests or by location.

Once you’ve started building your crowd through your promotional efforts, you’ll want to keep them engaged throughout the challenge. This simply means replying to questions in a timely manner, posting Updates to offer help, or even hosting a webinar so they can ask questions and get feedback in real time. We’ve seen plenty of challenges that had an interesting problem to solve but ultimately failed because they didn’t properly build or keep in contact with their crowd. Don’t let this happen to you!

We hope that makes you feel more confident about trying crowdsourcing for your next project. To wrap up, here’s an easy to reference summary of what we’ve learned from running challenges:

What works 

  • A solution is not obvious but the outcome is measurable 
  • A clear goal is outlined 
  • A promotional plan that is implemented 
  • Engaging your crowdsourcing community throughout the challenge 
  • An interesting or sympathetic subject area (not always required though if all other requirements are met)

What doesn't work

  • Unclear rules or finish line 
  • Trying to solve an unsolvable problem 
  • Solution is too easy or already available 
  • A challenge that someone can cheat or game the system to win
  • No promotional plan or engagement with your crowdsourcing community


Interested in using HeroX to crowdsource your next idea or solution? Get started right away here or contact our team here.

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