Collaboration and Co-Creation / by Dan Weingrod

A recent survey pointed out that 60% of consumers want to have the opportunity to collaborate with brands. Most likely what they want is the chance or at least the potential to have a voice or at least feel like their voice might be heard.

It’s very easy to create opportunities for a simple kind of collaboration. One of the easiest way to do this is to create opportunity for comments, ratings and feedback. Recognition of a customer’s voice in a public space helps to define a starting point for discussion and collaboration. The next step might be to respond to comments or to reward frequent contributors with status or ranking as Amazon.com does with their Amazon Vine program and to move towards building a community involved with your brand.

A whole other approach might be to look at co-creation. The idea of co-creation is to use technology to bring together customers, groups, friends, experts or amateurs create, with a brand, unique products or experiences. Examples of these projects include GE’secomagination project where small companies and individuals have proposed breakthrough environmental projects and won funding from GE. Another is Threadless’ new project,Threadless Atrium, which uses the crowd to source new designs to support charitable organizations and communities. Co-creation can also enable some wonderful creative ideas like the inbflat project or the related markermusic project. Projects that mashup YouTube video, music and maps with some interesting levels of personal control.

The key difference that I find between co-creation and other forms of collaboration such as crowdsourcing is the level of focus involved. Crowdsourcing, especially at its basic level, often requires little involvement from the individual, it can be as simple as a text submission. This can be very effective when looking to build low levels participation and user involvement. Co-creation, on the other hand, sets up highly defined goals and demands a commitment towards an end product based on real requirements. The results, as the examples demonstrate, can often lead to the development of new collaborative products and expressions.

But I have an ulterior motive in touting co-creation. This month I’m the editor for a project called the 3six5, a running blog that takes daily entries, 365 days a year, from people around the world. Participants are asked to post a maximum of 365 words focused on events or ideas that have occurred in their lives during the day. (It’s not so simple, some very talented folks have described this as some of the toughest 24 hours they have ever faced). The result is a rich, nuanced portrait of a year’s passage viewed from multiple, individual perspectives. For me, its exciting to be part of the flow and to be seeing the days unfold from people all over the world, today its Malaysia. Hope you have a chance to follow it and would love to hear your comments.