The web has made possible a whole slew of new business practices that were previously too expensive. Where information distribution was a barrier to getting things done, the costs have come right down to almost zero.
One of the best known Internet business models is called ‘Freemium’. In the old economy, marketing a product goes a little like this: First, you manufacture your product. Then you give away a few samples to people like journalists so they can tell everyone how great it is. Then, on the back of those recommendations, you sell it to everyone else.
In the Freemium economy, you produce a product that you give away free to anyone who wants it, and then just a few will like it so much that they will think its worth paying for a ‘premium’ version.
You could say that WebEden.co.uk runs on the ‘freemium’ model. We have a free website builder package that anyone can use; those people who like it and who want a better version will buy a subscription.
The other new business practice that uses the free distribution made possible by the Internet is called ‘crowdsourcing’. This is when you throw a question or task open to an anonymous ‘crowd’ and wait for the answer to come in. This can often be in the form of a quiz.
Here are a few companies trying it out:
Google Image labeler: A game where users are invited to name a picture so that Google can label and place it in the Google image search index.
Recaptcha.net: Asks users to work out what unrecognised words are in scanned pages from books.
Zeros2heroes.com: invites users to submit ideas that it can develop into comic strips.
mturk.com: Pays users to complete repetitive tasks, such as searching for products on a shopping site.
Namethis.com: Invites users to enter competitions to name products.
Innocentive.com: Pays users (up to $1m!) to find answers or solutions to difficult business problems that are sent in by the businesses themselves.
There are a few ways that you can use the ‘wisdom of crowds’ on your WebEden site. The most obvious is to add a poll to your website, and use it to collect meaningful information that might help you improve what you do. Another might be add a forum to your website, and take on board any issues raised by your users,
Have you tried crowdsourcing yet? Leave us a comment below.