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I recently came across this Business Week article aptly called Crowdsourcing.

The article is focused on guidelines for managing consumer generated media.
The 4 guidelines are :-

1. Be Focused

Frontiering agrees that any campaign where brands are asking for consumer participation should have clear participation guidelines. Consider a consumer friendly creative brief to point them in the right direction.

2. Get your filters right

It’s easy to get ideas, and it can take lots of time to read through each of them manually to pick the gems. We think it’s best to get the consumers to help you pick the best ideas, and this helps to pre-select the best creatives.

3. Tap the right crowds
This quote from the article is relevant …

At YouTube and probably within any new social network, only 1% of the users are active content creators. Another 10% interact with the content and change it. The remaining 89% passively observe. Smart companies want to assemble the crowds with the most sophisticated knowledge about their business problems to maximize the impact of the small percentage of idea generators within them.

4. Build community into Social Networks

Having the right incentives to help motivate and manage a community ensures that the right social network outcomes are achieved.

Perspective: Crowdsourcing or Open Source Marketing is an important marketing medium, and yet it is one where many of the rules are still to be learned. These basic guidelines are a start, and companies would be wise to find a product or service and start to experiment in this area.