Crowdsourcing: Why the Popular Method is Having Its Heyday, Why Its Here to Stay and What Your Dental Business Needs to Do about It

You’ve probably heard the term crowdsourcing (outsourcing tasks to a distributed group of people) or crowdfunding (funding projects from multiple outside sources) a lot lately, maybe too much. And for the most part, crowdsourcing has lent its hand to many successful business stories.

For example, businesses like BetaBrand, a company that uses both crowdsourcing and crowdfunding for its products, has seen success in a popular product called Cordarounds, a corduroy pant with cords that are sewn horizontally rather than vertically. This product came from users who wanted a corduroy pant that did not make a sound when walking.

Crowdsourcing has been popularized thanks in part to the social media boom of the past five years, and the use of the Internet in general. Facebook, Twitter, Reddit and other sites have opened a platform for two-way dialogue that was previously not accessible between businesses and clientele. More and more stories similar to this are being picked up by the media because of how successful these companies become.

Sourcing and learning from user feedback can only help improve your healthcare business and its services or products. This method is particularly useful when trying to grow a small business.

Does your company have a product that isn’t selling well that you thought would? Asking your client base what they don’t like about it and how it can be improved is the best solution possible. User-based responses are one of the few concrete ways to decipher what is working for your business and what isn’t.

How Can Your Business Effectively Crowdsource?

There are several ways to gain insight from your patients:

  • Investigate: E-mail surveys to your patients that are specific to each visit. Send one after a consultation, appointment and after patients receive products.
  • Get out the Vote: Send a poll either in an e-mail or on your social media accounts asking users for feedback. Ask questions like, “What new skin shade should we add to our line of non-custom breast prostheses?”
  • Be old-fashioned: Ask your patients what they are happy with and where your business can improve. Also, have a comment card box; you never know when someone will want to use it!

Crowdsourcing in Marketing/Advertising

Instagram has become a popular crowdsourcing tool for businesses’ marketing and advertising departments. Ben & Jerry’s recently launched an ad campaign using photos that its followers had posted to Instagram. The photo ads will be used in local media in that particular fan’s neighborhood. Ben & Jerry’s Instagram account had almost 124,000 followers on Nov. 16th. Just four days later they 3,000 more followers.

Crowdsourcing has also proven effective for CSR (Corporate Social Responsibility) efforts, an essential part of every healthcare business’ values and mission statement. A recent study of executives from Fortune 200 companies involved with philanthropic or community initiatives concluded that many used crowdsourcing for effectively gaining new ideas. “Crowdsourcing helped create new perspectives, new energy, build audience relationships and find new clients,” the article reports.

When Not to Use Crowdsourcing

Gaining new information from users always has the potential risk of ineffective or incorrect information. This is particularly troublesome during crises, such as natural disasters. During the Waldo Canyon fire in Colorado Springs over the summer, many people posted incorrect information on social media sites, leading to certain news sites picking up this incorrect information as well.

In certain instances it can also lead to a “Pandora’s Box” scenario for people who have contributed to crowdsourcing. Do these crowdsourcers all require an answer to their comments? The Public Information Officer for the Forest Service’s National Incident Management Organization recently said in a conference,“If we create a forum for people to tell us they feel threatened or endangered then do we have an obligation to respond?”

Social Media

We all crowdsource on our personal social media pages (“Where’s the best place to get Chinese in Denver?) so why not do it for your business page? Even if you don’t have a crowdsourcing question pertaining to your business, it can lead to effective social media engagement from your followers. Also, crowdsourcing news from other websites and posting it to your social media pages is smart use of your social media time.

Facebook has also recently debuted a recommendations add-on box for business pages so fans can post their comments and suggestions in a forum that will not be overlooked in the general comments.

Crowdsourcing is different for every healthcare business and its personal needs. What questions do you have for your patients? What information could help it grow? Brainstorm and list of pertinent questions and create a schedule of when and where to ask them.

Prosthetic Illusions is a Denver-based prosthetics company that relies on its patients for success. 

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