Crowdsourcing: the meaning, definition and some examples

Crowdsourcing - toolshero

Crowdsourcing: in this article you will find a practical explanation of the Crowdsourcing business model. Next to what it is (Meaning and definition), this article also highlights the importance, the advantages, jobs and good crowdsourcing examples. After reading, you will understand the basics of this strategic management approach. Enjoy reading!

What is Crowdsourcing? The meaning and definition

This concept was first mentioned in 2006 by journalist Jeff Howe in Wired Magazine in the article “The Rise of Crowdsourcing”. Before delving into the meaning of this method, it is necessary to identify what is meant by the word Crowdsourcing.

The word is a combination of the words crowd and sourcing. Crowdsourcing means that companies outsource to external communities to work on some specific tasks or projects that are not performed by internal employees and that need global help or an external community in order to meet the objectives that the organisation wants to achieve.

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This method makes the company go global and deepen in the talent of the external communities that want to participate in projects and fulfilment of goals in common collaboration.

Crowdsourcing is more developed in digital platforms than in traditional working environments due to the large number of users who are connected to the network and coworking every day. It is fair to say that the internet has played an important role in this method of external work popularised in recent years for remote work.

These external collaborations can be contributed with financial payments or social recognition and work experience.

The importance of Crowdsourcing in Web 2.0

The importance of this tool for business collaboration of projects has been gradually developed further over the years and the age of technology and its IT changes have advanced so that Crowdsourcing has become popular in the digital world.

Companies today see this working tool as an opportunity to find new talent, find creativity and solve problems in less time and in a less traditional way. Messaging, content exchange and information sharing at the click of a button is something that is a global trend when it comes to obtaining resources such as information and research for an organisation that takes advantage of this for its own benefit with the use of marketing, digital strategies and communication.

This is how Crowdsourcing becomes a trend used by many companies around the world, considering that it can have lower costs as it is an outsourcing that can be remunerated by providing services or simply giving their collaborators experience and social recognition for working with the company.

Advantages of Crowdsourcing


Sometimes companies choose to look outside the company for ideas, connecting projects with the community of people willing to collaborate and develop new initiatives or ideas with what the company is looking for. Having an outside view can be a great help as it can offer a cleaner view of the company. People outside the company with an outside view can help with ideas that benefit the company.

Many of these people who help with their collaborations can be even the customers or consumers themselves, as they know the product. External solicitation of consumers can also be a marketing strategy that helps the company’s visibility and connection with its customers.

Lower costs

As they are not employees of the company, you can lower costs with external collaborators because in open calls you can offer money or other types of remuneration such as experience and recognition among others. This makes companies today opt for this type of tool such as Crowdsourcing to avoid paying all the benefits that a normal employee has and reach an agreement for services or by the hour.

New talents

In different communities and companies, new talents that benefit your company for the development of innovation can be identified. These talents can continue to work with your organisation in the future for different projects that you consider important.


People can work collaboratively with anonymity. This generates more confidence to work virtually and to be able to make their true opinions known regarding the project they are working on.

Speed in time

Due to the collaborative work of outsiders, companies can have the tasks they give completed in less time, since by dividing the work the given task can be finished in a matter of hours instead of a normal worker who can take a week to deliver the task because he/she must have certain processes and protocols that external communities do not have to comply with.

Crowdsourcing as a global gateway from the comfort of home

Companies are using crowdsourcing more and more by putting it into practice in some projects that need external collaboration. Being able to distribute work to people anywhere in the country or the world, allows companies to discover new skills and experiences without having high economic costs as it would entail having an internal employee.

It is important to keep in mind that not only companies benefit from this type of work collaboration. Also people outside the company who work in Crowdsourcing get benefits that a conventional job does not offer, such as: digital working hours from anywhere in the world. This makes the new era rethink wanting to go to an office or have a virtual job that can be paid from anywhere in the world.

Being freelance fits perfectly in what the collaborative network requires. Crowdsourcing allows one to work for multiple companies collaborating with them and participating in the projects they need for hours or for a certain time depending on what the company needs.

Most commonly used jobs in Crowdsourcing

There are many types of work that can make collective collaboration as the creation of websites, product designs, artificial intelligence to improve products, positioning brands from the external perspective as a consumer or user, marketing and more.

The idea of Crowdsourcing is to look to the external community for new innovation alternatives for the company, in order to have more variety of opinions that can enrich and lead to the business success that the organisation desires.

Examples of companies that use Crowdsourcing


This digital company is one of the first to implement this collaborative tool. Wikipedia’s method using Crowdsourcing is text editing. Anyone who wants to add, complement, correct or help with the information in an article can do so, as this virtual company gives users the option of collaborating with them in the writing of information.


This company uses the collaboration of external people who are the same users who help in the construction of calculated maps. By providing information, users help Waze to improve routes, map cities and improve the information it provides on traffic and even accidents that occur on a specific route. All this with the help of the same users who use the app.


This company offers crowdsourcing possibilities in its digital media such as Instagram or Facebook. Its consumers can give opinions on products and services. This type of Crowdsourcing is minimal, however, with the collaboration of the brand’s followers, this company takes into account the opinions they have about a certain product.

Companies by using Crowdsourcing tool can improve external relations with the same customers and users who use their services and products as they can make them feel as participants and active members of the business community.

Companies then see this tool as an opportunity to improve branding and product offerings, improving relationships with external communities that provide new creative alternatives and solve problems that a project may have.

In a participatory way, Crowdsourcing involves and experiments with new alternatives in different communities that bring together different points of view, cultures and even professions in order to help solve a business or project conflict or to create new innovative alternatives that companies need and that they cannot get with their internal staff.

Crowdsourcing and its interaction with marketing

The interaction of Crowdsourcing with marketing helps external communities are not isolated to the company, this means that the open calls for collaborations in certain projects are within the same digital platforms that the company manages such as the website, social networks among others.

This allows users or consumers to apply and participate, this promotes social interaction as a marketing strategy to address, understand and listen to customers and thus be able to improve a better experience when consuming the products / services that the company gives.

Crowdsourcing vs Crowdfunding

You may see these terms as similar, but they have big differences.

Crowdsourcing seeks information from external communities to carry out projects or solve something specific that the organisation needs, whereas Crowdfunding seeks funding to support individuals or organisations. Individuals can contribute to crowdfunding requests with no expectation of repayment.


  • Crowdsourcing is the collection of information, opinions or work from a group of people outside the company, most often obtained online
  • Crowdsourcing helps companies save time and money while receiving collaboration from different people with different skills around the world
  • Crowdsourcing even gives money or rewards to people who collaborate on projects whereas Crowdfunding seeks crowdfunding

Critics on Crowdsourcing

Crowdsourcing, being a method that has become popular over the years in companies, has also been criticised for the conditions and terms that companies use when outsourcing, such as: low salaries without any type of contract for external collaborators, no confidentiality agreements in most cases, payment is obtained by the fulfilment of results, lack of motivation due to lack of economic value, among others.

It should be noted that the conditions of outsourcing are the responsibility of the company that needs the external collaborators, many of them do not comply with satisfactory agreements.

Although many critics believe that Crowdsourcing exploits its collaborators, many think that it is a way to make themselves known, to acquire experience and to create coworking groups in a digital and advanced way for this new era.

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Now It’s Your Turn

What do you think? Have you implemented Crowdsourcing in your company? If so, how have you done with this tool? Do you think that the open calls in the same digital media of the company can be a successful digital marketing strategy for products or services that the company has? Do you have any suggestions or something to add about Crowdsourcing?

Share your experience and knowledge in the comments box below.

More information

  1. Brabham, D. C. (2013). Crowdsourcing. Mit Press.
  2. Estellés-Arolas, E., & González-Ladrón-de-Guevara, F. (2012). Towards an integrated crowdsourcing definition. Journal of Information science, 38(2), 189-200.
  3. Howe, J. (2006). The rise of crowdsourcing. Wired magazine, 14(6), 1-4.
  4. Vukovic, M. (2009, July). Crowdsourcing for enterprises. In 2009 congress on services-I (pp. 686-692). IEEE.

How to cite this article:
Ospina Avendano, D. (2021). Crowdsourcing. Retrieved [insert date] from Toolshero:

Original publication date: 02/25/2021 | Last update: 08/31/2023

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Daniela Avendaño
Article by:

Daniela Avendaño

Daniela Avendaño is a content producer and translator at toolshero. She obtained a Bachelor in Communications & Journalism, and with her theoretical and practical knowledge she supports the toolshero production team with interesting articles on management, personal & professional development, marketing and more. She is driven by sharing knowledge and stimulating others to develop.


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