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Crowdsourcing Content Creation: Best Practices

Crowdsourced content creation is a tactic that you must apply in your blogging strategy. Getting people to create content for you lets you focus on promoting it instead. Also, doing this connects you to influential people in your niche. You can use the content as starting point to building relationships with each of them.

But before you jump the crowdsourcing gun, you need to learn what works and what doesn’t. Learning its best practices lets you assimilate this tactic into your content strategy without a hitch.

I have enlisted the help of MyBlogU to come up with the best practices for crowdsourcing content.

MyBlogU is a site known for its vibrant community of users helping each other out with their content. It is also the living testament of crowdsourced content. Users can brainstorm for topics together and share answers for the questions. Users will include the answers of others on their respective posts with a link back to their sites.

Below are the replies I got about the best practices of crowdsourcing content creation.

Target specific bloggers

David_Leonhardt_mediumWhen I want input on a collaborative post, I find it very helpful to target specific people.  I often have in mind a number of people I think would be ideal for a post, so I will send them a note asking them to participate.  This does not guarantee that they’ll contribute, but it does help ensure a better response from people I think would fit the topic well. – David Leonhardt, THGM Writers 

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To target the right people, you can do a quick bio search using Followerwonk. Refer to their Social Authority to determine their influence. The higher the SA, the better. Conpile the list of Twitter users who you will contact for your outreach. 2015-08-18 13-24-15

Another tool to use is BuzzSumo Influencer. Search using your keyword to receive relevant results. Refer to Retweet Ratio and Reply Ratio to see how active the user is to engaging with others. Compile users with the highest Retweet and Reply Ratios. 2015-08-18 13-23-15

You can cross-reference your list using both tools to come up a comprehensive data.

You can visit their websites to contact them. If they do not have a contact page, get their e-mail and ask help for crowdsourcing your content.

Come up with different formats

UjjNE-EWI’ve seen lots of collaborated articles coming up through MyBlogU and some of them have alternative formats included which I think is awesome!!! Here are two examples:

Re-package your collaborated piece into an eBook:
Create an infographic with best quotes:

Anna Fox, Hire Bloggers

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Anna referred to a resource page created by Christy Kunjumon for Techwyse. The “13 Industry Experts Reveal Their SEO Secrets” compiles answers from SEO experts. 2015-08-18 12-52-43

The cool thing about this is how the crowdsourced content serves as a lead generation tool. Users can download a copy of the e-book once they entered the e-mail in the sign-up form.

If you are building an e-mail list, this is a tactic that can hike up your subscriber.

Another page mentioned by Anna is the “The Best WordPress Plugins of 2015 – 30 Pros Reveal Theirs.”


Ashley Faulkes of Mad Lemmings reached out to influential bloggers.  He asked them to their most favorite WordPress plugins. Ashley compiled the answers into a beautiful infographic that he posted in his blog.

To get a better idea on how Ashley pulled off this tactic, he narrates his step-by-step process below.

pBHruwvfCreating roundup or expert style crowdsourced posts is a very popular activity in the online marketing world, but few people do it really well.

One of the keys to a successful roundup post is making it simple for the experts to participate. Remember, you are approaching very popular and busy people. So the simpler and quicker it is for them to take part, the better.

Therefore, my first recommendation is to set up a Google Form (that feeds that data into a spreadsheet) that contains all the information you need (name, twitter handle, website, answers).

Not only is this simple to fill in, it will make collating the post a breeze!

I found the participants in my recent roundup loved this idea, and many asked me how I did it.

The other key to getting people to participate is in making the email simple, short, and clear. Again, most of these people are busy so the less ‘blah blah” you have in your email the better.

You just need to include the important details:

  • What the topic of the post is
  • Why you are writing to them specifically (stroke the ego a little)
  • What they need to do (link to the Google Form)
  • When they need it by (a deadline gives them something to aim for)

I would also follow up with a reminder close to the deadline, as people forget, get busy/distracted, did not see the first email etc.

As the receiver of many of these emails, I can tell you that such reminders are crucial!

Of course it is also important to find relevant people in your niche who are active and influential bloggers, as they are more likely to participate. I like to use a mix of both small and big bloggers, as it helps the response rate and gives some variety in the perspectives and answers. Which is in the end is awesome for both you and your readers!

So get out there and organise your next expert roundup! – Ashley Faulkes, Mad Lemmings

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Credit where Credit is Due

When compiling crowdsourcing content, you need to learn how to pay it forward. This means giving proper attribution to influential bloggers for their answers.

Below is a story by Deborah Anderson of Social Media Cafe who became a victim of crowdsouced content. Below is the blow-by-blow account.

DSC_1712_avatarI think that is the single most important element:  Giving credit where credit is due.  Granted, I may feel that way because of something that happened to me recently.  I will try to be careful as I relay what happened, because I am not here to “bad mouth” anyone.  That is not who I am.  However, it was hurtful enough that it had ramifications.  Also, the story helps to illustrate what NOT to do.

I am known for my interviews and web shows.  Recently, I sort of “joined forces,” like a partnership with another company.  In hindsight it was obvious, but at the time I did not see that my content (my shows) were considered crowd-sourced.  While I understand crowd-sourcing, I am not so deep in it that I live and breathe it.  I have spent too much time in corporate America and so it is not the first thought that I have.  And, as an example, I funded my own Jazz album rather than using Kickstarter, etc. to crowdfund it, so using crowd-_____ tools is not the first thought.

I thought I was participating in a joint venture.  He (owner of the other company) took ownership of my shows.  Now, keep in mind that not only is the labor on my part (doing the show itself), but there is a lot prep work (meeting with the interviewees) and post-production work that goes into each show.  That also involved volunteer staff (who thought they were working for my brand) and family who also worked on each week’s show.

So, let’s jump to the end of the story.  This other person actually took one of my shows off of my youtube channel and put it up on his channel.  It isn’t that bad, since my face was on it (free advertising, eh)? However, he took another show and stripped out all of my branding and my face.  As if that was not bad enough, he chopped it up and posted it as a Twitter video and called it something “he created.”  Not only had he not created the original (my team had), but someone else did the chopping.

Sometimes we just have to learn from experiences and move on and that is what I tell myself.  After all, I had a responsibility in seeing that it was headed that way.  Also, hindsight is 20/20.

Fortunately, Ann Smarty has built MyBlogU in a way that easily allows people to “give credit where credit is due,” so someone would have to work hard to not give credit.  And, in all fairness, the individual in my story above did give credit (lots of it) at the very beginning.  However, those moves at the end where he not only 1) didn’t give credit, but 2) stole content and 3) removed me and my branding and 4) claimed that it was his.. well, that was beyond “uncool.”

So, kudos to MyBlogU and Ann Smarty.  People should use her model as a model of “best practices.” – Deborah Anderson, Social Web Cafe

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Key takeaways

Taking all the answers together, here are the best practices for crowdsourcing content creation.

  • Learn how to target and reach out to bloggers within your niche. This lets you compile more relevant data for your crowdsourced content.
  • After compiling the crowdsourced content, turn them into anything but an article or post. Creating an infographic or e-book out of the content using the examples above. Y ou can also convert them into video, audio, and slideshow. Doing this allows you to create a more dynamic and compelling content for your visitors.
  • For e-books, use crowdsourced content from influential bloggers as a lead generation tactic. Set up a landing page and place your sign-up form there. Before they receive the e-book, they must enter their e-mail first. This approach to your crowdsourced content increases chances of people signing up. They are much more willing to hear what influencers have to say about the topic.
  • Set up a Google Form to make it easier to compile and organize your crowdsourced content.
  • Before publishing the post, attribute the crowdsourced content to the right sources. Link back to the site pages where you got the content or the home page if you interviewed the blogger. Once published, inform them through e-mail or social media. They might share your content on their social channels too!

More on crowdsourcing content creation:

30-Point Checklist to Optimize Your Blog Content Creation

Compelling Approaches to Writing Your Blog Content