Crowdsourcing was first coined by Jeff Howe in Wired magazine as combo word for "crowd" and "outsourcing". Henk van Ess, a social media strategist, said "Crowdsourcing is channeling the experts’ desire to solve a problem and freely sharing the answer with everyone."
How Association Meetings can use Crowdsourcing
A typical association meeting consists of thousands of like-minded individuals who come to a 2 or 3 day conference to network and learn more about topics relevant to THEIR industry. Who usually selects the speakers and topics? A very small group of volunteers and event meeting services staff that are looking at last year’s evaluations for guidance.
How about letting the attendees shape the agenda and select the speakers? Utilizing online communities, as well as tools, such as Facebook Fan pages and LinkedIn groups, can allow the crowd to submit topics and speakers based on their interests. In addition, any tool that allows users to submit posts, including blogs, works well.
A great event organizer will start to see a trend within the community, sort through the suggestions, and put a trial agenda together for the crowd to vote on. A wonderfully dynamic process that should help build attendance as well!
While attendees are at the conference, the association can use a sundry of interactive technology tool rentals to create an environment of user input. Here are a few examples:
- Everyone can have a wireless audience response system and a series of problem questions the association is facing, can be positioned on the screen with many multiple choice answers. The attendees can vote on the best response anonymously, thus lending to greater participation by the attendee.
- Computer kiosks can be strategically located through the hallways of the convention center and foyer of the hotels where attendees are staying. These kiosk rentals can either have a keyboard or touchscreen, where various questions are asked and attendees can submit their responses. The attendee can even submit their own question.
- The association can rent iPads, Tablet PCs or Laptops for attendees to complete mindmapping, a hip way to brainstorming with a crowd. A whole session can be dedicated to this for the association’s most critical problems.
- Problems or fresh ideas can be explored quickly and with relatively little cost.
- The association can tap into a very wide range of talent and expertise
- Event organizers get first-hand insight into their members’ desires.
- The attendee has an sense of ownership with the association and its problems.