Quick Tips Crowdsourcing 101

Videos October 07, 2020

Creating content can be difficult and time consuming, that’s why our number one trick to coming up with content is through crowdsourcing. In this Quick Tips! video, Interact Copywriter Michael Mahin explains how to ask your audience what kind of content they want through the use of hashtags, filters, and curation.


Hi, my name is Michael Mahin at Interact Communications. Welcome back for another episode of Quick Tips. Today we’re gonna talk about crowdsourcing content. Content marketing is where it’s at. We all know that. But who has time to create all this content? No one. Right? So one of our hacks for creating content is crowdsourcing. And the basic premise is that you invite your audience to tell their story so that you can tell yours. We all crowdsource already. Anytime you post to social media and you include a question that invites responses, you’re inviting participation from your audience, for the purpose of creating content that engages more of that audience. That’s all crowdsourcing is. So we’re gonna talk about a couple different ways to do this. We’re gonna talk about hashtags. We’re gonna talk about filters and we’re gonna talk about curation. 

So first, hashtags. We all know what a hashtag is. The basic premise is that you’re building buzz and content and interest around a specific idea. Those ideas oftentimes are timely. They’re buzzy, they’re trending. When you think of kind of global social media hashtags, but when they come to colleges, they tend to be more event based and they tend to be more specific to type of curation and the type of moment that you’re trying to capture. So, Allan Hancock college, for instance, created a fantastic hashtag campaign around the hashtag #yougotthisahc. And came out during the time of COVID in March and April. And the basic premise was to have staff and faculty post encouraging videos to students basically saying we got your backs. And so what I love about this idea is that they’re using staff and faculty to crowd source content, not necessarily students, but the overall effect is one of promoting student support and just saying, “Hey, we’re here for you.” It’s a great message to be putting out there, right? Especially during the first moments of COVID. 

Another great hashtag campaign that we ran recently was something for Compton College. And this was built around kind of a buzzy moment where Michelle Obama wore a Compton sweatshirt and called out Compton College in a speech that she’d given where she says you can’t count Compton grads out, or something like that. So we built a little campaign around this idea. We used the hashtag #comptoncounts and students were basically invited to tell their own story. And this was a low cost way to create some organic social media attention. Excuse me, this was actually an alumni campaign. So in addition to inviting alumni to tell their own stories about how Compton College helped them, we also ran a paid ad campaign that drove alumni to a landing page where materials, their info and data was collected and it ended up being a fantastic campaign. I think they got 129 new alumni foundation members. Overall 140,000 impressions. Over 3000 engagements. 2000 plus visits to the website. And that’s just fantastic for a campaign that only lasted about 23 days. So that’s the basic premise behind hashtags. Of course, hashtag is all about the idea. You got to find something that’s timely and that fits with what you’re trying to accomplish. I’ve got some other ideas for you. I’ll tell you in a second. 

Another thing that you can use to crowdsource content are camera filters. Now, we all know what filters are because of Snapchat, and Facebook and Instagram, being the savvy social media platforms they are, quickly stole this idea. And so now you have the opportunity to create your own camera filters and to disseminate them and then allow students or alumni or staff or whoever to use those filters to place over their own images and to tag you and to create content. Again, we’re creating, they’re doing the content for you. You’ve given them the tool. Now they’re going to give back to you in the way of images, in the way of authentic narration, in the way of testimonials. Some fantastic marketing copy that will engage your audience and also show that you’re credible and you’re authentic because they’re using their own voices and their own images to communicate. This is so effective because you’re getting customers involved and you’re getting students engaged in the school and the messaging that you’re trying to promote, right? And that’s the key to crowdsourcing content. When it comes to crowdsourcing longer content the question to ask is who is your audience? And how can you get them engaged to tell their own stories again? So that you can tell your stories through them. 

So, Santa Ana college foundation had a fantastic idea. They, again, this was in response to COVID. They ran, they were giving out, emergency grants to students. And they simply ask that any student who received an emergency grant send back a picture of what they bought and a brief explanation for how it helped them. Crowdsourcing content. We’re going to an audience that we have and we’re using them to help generate content that we can then use to promote our mission and our goals. They took those messages and they forwarded them to donors and to the alumni who were contributing to those funds so that they could see what their money was doing. A fantastic way to engage alumni. You can do this with current students, too. You could go to current students and run a campaign based on why I chose Saddleback College or whatever college you’re associated with. Why why did I choose this college? Create a clever hashtag. Ask people to tell you their stories. Hey, another great way to crowd source content. 

The final thing that I want to talk about is curation. And curation is basically the premise that not all the content you share has to be your own. And this is what we do when one college’s department shares news and posts from another college department. And this is what the museum, what the curator of a museum does right? He or she picks what to share and what to display. And that’s our idea here too. You as a curator can go out into the world and share content that is aligned with your brand and relevant to your audience but that you didn’t have to necessarily create yourself. Of course, you need to get permission. If you’re taking from new sources, in many cases for social media, you can just repost repost content. Some questions, why does your college social media have to only talk about what’s going on on campus? Your campus doesn’t exist in a void and neither do students. 

So think about what your audience wants. That is what your students want to hear about and give it to them. Are these announcements about concert dates, about regional events, about cultural opportunities? Any number of these types of content exists out there. You can repost from museums. You can repost from concert venues. The key is to be creative and to experiment and to pay attention to what gets buzz and what builds buzz and what doesn’t. And then to do more of what’s being successful. There is nothing wrong with trial and error. In fact, failure is necessary if you want to grow and learn

and get better at social media and get better at crowdsourcing and get better at marketing. So there you go. Good luck with your crowdsourcing and your marketing. We’ll see you next time. Take care. Bye.


A man looking through binoculars with the Facebook logo over both eyes, just showing that everywhere you look, social media marketing is there! Photo by Glen Carrie on Unsplash
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