Crowdsourcing or advertising? Both.

The Circle, page 374: The Circle has created a tool called SoulSearch. This app is meant to find anybody on Earth with the help of other uses of The Circle. In a demonstration of SoulSearch Mae and more than a billion circlers use this tool to locate a known criminal:

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What Mae is doing in the excerpt above is a case of crowdsourcing. The crowd in the above case was The Circle’s own users but in reality, people tend to use several different social platforms to reach as many people as possible. Crowdsourcing is the practice of gathering information or using services contributed by many people that normally move in different circles (pun intended? Your guess). Crowdsourcing is a term most commonly associated with an online activity but of course it exists in an offline form as well. It has started with people helping out others or coming together for a good cause. It can also be used to raise money, in which case the term for it is crowdfunding.

Apart from its traditional role, crowdsourcing has played an integral part in advertising lately. There are different ways in which crowdsourcing is used in advertising. The very first stage of an ad campaign involves brainstorming and the gathering of ideas. Participants are asked to share their ideas on sites such as Userfarm. Sometimes all the company is looking for is ideas, other times they submit briefs (usually online), to which participants respond not only with the idea for it but the winner (and only the winner) also then gets to execute the idea. Perhaps the most common form of crowdsourcing that companies tend to use is contents. Here, participants execute the entire idea and create the ad (video, poster, photographs), submitting it to the company in hope of winning the (usually monetary) award.

Social media such as Twitter and Instagram have been used extensively by companies to promote their brand name. They ask their followers to share their images of themselves using certain products or services, usually using a common hashtag. Sometimes this is done to win awards, other times simply to get a retweet or a follow from the company’s account. In this way, every participant advertises products and helps spread the brand name.

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