The Power of Crowdsourcing: Tapping into Fan Insights to Launch Top Selling Merch

In Creator success, Holiday Season by Danielle Pederson October 3, 2023

In the world of creator success, tapping into your fans’ desires is the ultimate game-changer. When you crowdsource design ideas, you’re not just making merch; you’re crafting a direct connection with your audience. 

By giving your fans a voice in the creative process, you’re not only launching products they genuinely desire but also increasing the odds of success.

It’s a win-win strategy that transforms your passion into profits while making your fans feel like cherished collaborators in your creative journey.

But first, what exactly IS crowdsourcing? 

Simply put, it’s the process of collecting ideas, and/or content with the assistance of input from a large number of people (your fans) on a topic of your choice. Once you’ve collected those ideas, you can use that info to develop products, and refine your marketing strategy. Methods of crowdsourcing are always evolving, so let’s cover some ground, starting now! 

Use social media to understand your fans’ needs & wants

Crowdsourcing is a chance to learn your fans’ buying behaviors, expectations, interests, pain points, content preferences and so much more.

The best way to quickly gather all of this information is to go to where your fans connect with you the most: social media.

It’s not only instant communication, it’s an informal arena where fans are more likely to be candid and real in their comments versus filling out an official feedback form. But, you need to have a plan for how you will source this information. No worries, we’ve got 5 great ideas to get you started. 

How to conduct social media crowdsourcing

Now that you know the importance of social media crowdsourcing, it’s time to learn the best way of going about it. Here are a few tips:

1. Define your expectations & goals

When you ask for feedback, you might get back more than you can easily process. Unless you have a clear understanding of what you’re looking for, it can be overwhelming.

Ask yourself what you hope to gain from what you hear? Maybe you want to improve your designs, or the rapport you have with your social media followers. Or maybe you want to learn their interests so you can use them in your promos. 

Whatever it is you’re going for, clearly define it from the beginning. In this case it’s Holiday-themed products. Start there.

You can run several separate efforts simultaneously, but the goals should always be defined in each. 

2. Choose the right channels and tactics

There are a number of ways to collect feedback from followers on your socials:

  • Conduct polls 
  • Browse comments
  • Monitor DMs
  • Send out survey links
  • Ask your community or individuals to mention you in posts
  • Monitor mentions that are un-tagged

Observe which channels your followers most commonly use so you have the best chance of collecting the most sufficient information. 

3. Craft a Compelling Post 

Write a detailed and engaging post explaining your crowdsourcing initiative.

Mention your objectives, that you are looking for holiday-themed suggestions, and clearly state any specific guidelines or restrictions for these product ideas. Encourage creativity and excitement.

4. Have a unified monitoring platform

If you’re using one platform (like Instagram) to collect insights for a specific purpose, it may not be an overload of information.

But if you’re running polls on five different platforms, it can quickly get overwhelming to make sense of the data. You may even miss crucial information or comments if you are having to manually monitor them all. Selecting one platform to begin might be the best idea. 

5.  Run Social Media Contests

People love to win stuff. Plus this is a fantastic way to gain insight. Here are 4 key ways to crowdsource product ideas using social media contests:

1. Ask your followers/fans/customers what their needs/wants are. 

The more you listen to someone’s needs and wants, the more loyal they become.

EX: Use your X (former Twitter) feed to give your followers an option on which product they would be more likely to buy.

This method kills two birds with one stone: It crowdsources your own decisions on which product to push, and it shows your followers that you listen to them.

Quick tips:

  1. Post updates about your contest at various times throughout the day; Use related hashtags to reach a larger audience.
  2. Offer a prize. Increase motivation by using the winning product idea as the prize.

2. Conduct Research on product preferences.

A simple way to obtain customer insights about new products is to create a vote contest (like on Facebook). Ask your followers to vote on their: 

  1. Favorite product type
  2. Preferred color 
  3. Best use of the product

Use the results to design products to launch, and watch how many respondents easily turn into customers!

3. Run a “Name a Product” contest

The name of a product can make or break it. Why not let your community weigh in on the name of your next product? There are ingenious suggestions everywhere. When you hear the perfect name, you’ll know it. It also makes followers feel they’re involved with your brand because, well…they are! Announce the winners of the prize and happily divvy it out. Tips for hosting a “Name Your Product” contest:

  1. Use a “namesourcing” site like NamingForce, NameStation, Hatchwise or Name Contests, or set up your own contest on your site or socials.
  2. Promote contests through your socials, paid ads, & earned media (if you have the budget) to generate more entries. 
  3. Do not mislead. Be crystal clear that you, no one else, has the final say in what name wins (just in case names submitted don’t work for your brand).
  4. Follow through. Naming the product is only the first step. Announce the winners on social media. You can even tag and tweet the winners, if possible. 

4. Ask your followers to submit new ideas. 

Engage your followers by requesting them to submit ideas for new products. Better yet, make it ONE idea for a new product. Specificity is always better.

What this does is empower your community. It gives them a sense of passion and commitment to what you do. It also results in them thinking about what other types of products you carry because they might have to check out your store to come up with a new product.

Loyalty AND sales have now increased!

Tips for crowdsourcing new products:

  1. Host a contest on your social platform or you can ask participants to give you a new product idea in your comments.
  2. Ask for new ideas about a product related to the products you already offer to incentivize store traffic and increase sales. 
  3. Give incentives that appeal to your target audience (discounts are always popular).

Asking for input before a product launches gives fans an “own-it” mentality, turning products they like into products they love.

Holiday Resource Hub and Countdown Calendar

You need to (right now) get to the Holiday Resource Hub, which also has our Countdown Calendar with key benchmark dates to help creators negotiate the hectic holiday season. These invaluable tools will help you maximize your sales this season. 

Finally, Run a Post-Holiday Evaluation 

After the holiday season, you can evaluate the success of your crowdsourcing campaign, engagement, sales, and feedback. This will be exponentially beneficial during future campaigns. 

Crowdsourcing holiday product ideas through social media not only helps you tap into the creativity of your audience but also fosters a sense of community and engagement around your brand. It’s a win-win strategy when executed as we outlined above.

Happy Holidays and Happy Selling!