Organizations are taking stakeholder engagement and crowdsourcing to a new level, and it’s not just for another consumer voting campaign. It’s something a little edgier – some might even call it risky. A few intrepid organizations are doing what most would specifically try to avoid, say giving up control of their social media voice or networking with some of the world’s most serious villains.
Google Ideas, a philanthropic arm of the technology company, is uniting former radicals to source solutions to violent extremism across the world. Eighty former jihadists, neo-Nazi skinheads, Irish extremists and U.S. gang members came together with Google in Ireland for a discussion about how to end radical violence.
Water.org, on the other hand, is hosting an online contest to relinquish control of its Twitter handle to one passionate follower. The nonprofit’s supporters will vote to select the winner. Water.org is anticipating that its Twitter handle will give one advocate a broad platform to voice his or her unique opinions and make a difference. However, with @water’s 430,000 followers listening carefully, there’s no question that the organization is taking a calculated risk.
And in case you think crowdsourcing is only good to engage the public with an online action like a vote or retweet, consider this: hundreds of Londoners hit the streets to sweep, scrub and scour after recent riots thanks to #londonriotcleanup, @londonriotcleanup and a post-riot clean-up Facebook page.
The days of crowdsourcing as a popularity contest may be numbered as organizations rethink how they engage with their stakeholders en-masse. Their staunchest supporters or most extreme thinkers can now take a front-and-center role in their efforts, and although they are ceding power to some unusual suspects, the potential return seems worth the risk.