Lee Odden

5 Tips on Crowdsourcing Content for Marketing

crowdsourcing contentContent is an essential vehicle for corporate storytelling, attracting and engaging customers to buy. Organizations are beginning to get that, but struggle with content sourcing and how to scale. Besides hiring an editorial staff complete with corporate journalists, one of the most valuable sources of content for online marketing comes from your brand’s community.

Tapping in to what customers care about related to your products /services and what your brand stands for can be a gold mine of meaningful content.

I wrote about this recently on ClickZ, “Crowdsourcing and User Generated Content“, offering pros and cons plus a few tips. Here are 5 of those tips with some additional commentary based on discussions with audience members at the recent SES San Francisco conference:

Interviews. Raising questions is one of the most basic ways to crowdsource content. The method to employ depends on the desired outcome. Asking the community for suggestions of whom to interview and what questions to ask is a great way to get people involved. Interviewing industry thought leaders provides the brand’s audience with unique content and creates a positive association between the “brandividual” and the company.

Example: Tapping multiple industry thought leaders for their definition of “content curation” for a blog post that received substantial distribution and return visits.

Social Q&A. Yahoo Answers, LinkedIn, and sites like Quora can provide very useful platforms to present questions and attract answers from a variety of people. Of course, your intent needs to be clear and permission for reuse should be obtained before republishing. Those familiar with the Q&A communities can word questions to attract replies from specific influentials who might not otherwise respond to a content participation pitch via email.

Example: Posting a question to LinkedIn related to the “shift in direct marketing budgets to digital“, that received great quality responses and over 30 comments on the post.

Contests Resulting in Content. Examples of contests in which consumers produce their own videos and share images abound on the social web. Search engines love any kind of content, especially text.

Example: In the past, Marketing Pilgrim ran a great contest for a search marketing scholarship. The articles written by contestants drive traffic to Andy’s website and also become content on it. To top if off, the articles were compiled into an e-book.

Comment Feedback Loop. One of the most meaningful ways for a community to engage with a brand is through comments on a company blog. Asking readers to participate in a dialogue by commenting can result in content that is better than the original blog post. Brands can then recognize blog commenters by drawing attention to the “best of” comments through a separate blog post or in a newsletter.

Example: See TopRank’s Online Marketing Newsletter for an example of this in action, where comments are curated into a section called, “What the Online Marketing Blog Community Has to Say”.

Book Authoring by Community. Reaching out to industry experts to share their insights as part of a larger project, such as a book in print or an ebook can be very effective.

Example: Author Michael Miller did this with Online Marketing Heroes, of which I was a part. He interviewed 25 successful marketers; the results of those interviews became the book published by Wiley.

Numerous companies have connected with industry thought leaders for content and compiled the responses into an eBook. A good example is Jay Baer’s – Staggering Social Media Insights: The Best of the Twitter 20 eBook.

This is really just the tip of the iceberg for creative content crowdsourcing ideas. Each industry and community is different and with quality analysis and creative ideas, organizations can accomplish content creation objectives as well as better engaging and growing their social networks.

Have you overcome content creation and scaling issues by crowdsourcing? What creative content sourcing ideas have you implemented?


PoorSo SoOKGoodAwesome (1 votes, average: 5.00 out of 5)

Lee Odden About Lee Odden

@LeeOdden is the CEO of TopRank Marketing and editor of Online Marketing Blog. Cited for his expertise by The Economist, Forbes and the Wall Street Journal, he's the author of the book Optimize and presents internationally on B2B marketing topics including content, search, social media and influencer marketing. When not at conferences, consulting, or working with his talented team, he's likely running, traveling or cooking up something new.


  1. Hi Lee,

    Solid pointers here.

    I see where the comment feedback loop would be powerful. Engaging is an excellent way to build community, for a community whose voice is heard usually grows quite quickly. Keep the street a 2 way street as much as possible by listening and responding.

    Thanks for sharing your insight!


  2. Good content is very important in any businesses to give more emphasis or information to the consumers. Also google loves content. Content is king.

    Judith @ social media for schools

  3. I love this! Your tip “Contests resulting in Content” gave my a great idea for the company I work for, B Culture Media in Atlanta. We do give aways for our Facebook and Twitter followers and this would be a great way to include a contest in order to generate content. Great tips! Thanks so much for sharing. 🙂 

  4. Avatar Jason @ mobile website design says

    I think the phrase is “Content is King” but beware of over-contenting and beware of content not being engaging.
    Crowdsearching is useless unless you listen and learn from it.

  5. very interesting to learn this facts. This only means that website owners really need to concentrate on great content and linking

  6. Crowdsourcing is a really great way to get an enormous amount of content. My favourit is the contest thing. That also works great with Linkbuilding I can say.

  7. Great article.  I’d also add guest blogs and on the lines of social Q&A if I find myself engaged in an email conversation with a client that includes a lot of FAQs I pop these into a post.  I highly recommend the interviews… I adore doing these and there are huge benefits past the content, such as networking and increased social shareability.

  8. More and more contests are appearing in the blogging community with the goal of creating a bunch of content for the contest host, which has it ups and downs, but in the end if the content is properly reviewed than I think it’s a great idea. All the tips are great, but I think contest are great for everyone, except the losers I guess 😉

    • I agree – there’s a lot to be said in terms of quality and intent for the contest. If it’s blatantly an attempt to crowdsource content without reciprocal value to participants, it can fall flat.