Tweet and Sour: When Twitter Crowdsourcing Backfires

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When it comes to getting ideas from consumers and followers, nothing quite beats Twitter. Questions like, “What do you guys think of this hot new product?,” “What sort of specials would you be interested in?” and “How do like our new logo?” are the kind of crowdsourcing questions that can really inspire tons of responses from consumers.

And when you think about it, this sort of information is invaluable. Back in olden marketing days, we used focus groups and other ridiculous avenues to try to figure out what consumers were thinking. Now, we can hop on Twitter and ask a few questions to see what’s on their minds.

But when it comes to crowdsourcing on Twitter, it’s important to remember we won’t always love the answers our following will provide.

British pop star and reality TV show judge Tulisa learned a tough lesson about Twitter crowdsourcing recently when she asked fans on Twitter to help her pick a name for her new perfume. Most of the ideas from smart-alecky fans, however, stunk. Amateur Twitter comedians came up with perfume names like “Desperation,” “Unemployed,” “Chip Shop Reject,” “Capri Sun” and “Chavalicious.” While hilarious, this smartassery isn’t exactly helpful. Nevertheless, the failed crowdsourcing attempt did help me discover Tulisa and probably helped thousands of others do the same.

Sarcastic responses on Twitter won’t ever be avoided completely (and some may argue this kind of thing is the sole purpose for Twitter’s existence). Yet as Twitter marketing experts, we can minimize this sort of thing by asking more specific questions when we crowdsource. Had Tulisa given her fans a choice between names, maybe the sassy responses would have been fewer. Also, to get the most of crowdsourcing on Twitter, it is best to routinely turn to your followers for ideas and engage them regularly with fun, interesting and engaging questions. Lastly, remember that Twitter users are quick with one-liners and witty retorts, so just make sure your questions aren’t setting you and your brand up to be the butt of a joke.

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