Time and again I come across startups that flaunt expensive crowd-sourcing tools around their offerings. Trying to reach out as far as possible, using the most coveted of web 2.0 solutions available these days. But the effort is never quite ever up to the mark. Partly due to lack of reason, and part in rush of doing things coz everyone else is doing so.
For one reason crowd-sourcing approach for startups is incorrect, is that startups do not fit the ‘business case’ that could garner qualified social feedback for its product from the crowd. Simply because the product engagement within the market has not been long enough, and more often than not the sample size of crowd may not be representative at all.The business model isn’t well-marinated either.
A simple drop-an-email or report-a-bug feature might serve well. As long as there is someone to read it.
There are two cost-centers for a startup to consider before buying into social feedback solutions: Time & Money. While money might be scarce too, the former is a more expensive resource as compared to the latter. The amount of time the crowd-sourcing tool would require for publicity and promotion might just turn out to be more taxing on resources, as compared to losing out on money. And the more important goal of spreading your own identity might take the back-seat. With all that, in the end you might end up getting a few hundred ideas which you could anyway would have sorted and resolved through simple progressive emails!
Where as for a large client with thousands of in-flows everyday sorting or clubbing of ideas may not be possible manually at all. Time for a large client with a healthy (rather obese) balance-sheet is not as critical as it is for a startup. The product has been there for a long time and customers & non-customers both understand what they are talking about & who they are talking to. In such a situation a crowd-sourcing tool works desirably.
Even on freemium model crowdsourcing is way too expensive for a startup to look at, coz it might end up bringing totally under-qualified ideas and increase chances of hooking to an elastic customer. There is every chance for startups to lose direction, and mess up the strategy towards something that is already successful on the internet. For example, someone might just ask you keep your text-inputs within 140 character limit or integrate your API with Google Wave not knowing what that means. Sad isn’t it?
Hope my words echo with some of us. The hard realities of social web, are not far from realization as people open their eyes now. Correct me if I am wrong in anyway.