The use of smartphones in crowdsourcing initiatives

Percentage of time for each of the "reasons" for using mobile phones

In October 2012, AOL and BBDO published a study (conducted by Insights Now) called “Seven Shades of Mobile”. This study analyzed the use of smartphones, throwing different and really interesting results that are actually useful when planning crowdsourcing initiatives.

For those with not too much time, Harvard Business Review has made an excellent (and brief) graphic summary of the study.

Within this study the 7 reasons that lead people to use smartphone (other than talking on the phone) were identified:

  1. Accomplish
  2. Socialize
  3. Prepare (of future activities like travels, etc.)
  4. Me Time (relaxing and entertaining time)
  5. Discover (seeking news and information that open the mind to new things)
  6. Shop (buying producs or services)
  7. Express Myself

The primary motivator

Although the 7 “reasons” are motivators of mobile usage, Me Time is by far the most important and most lengthy one (just look the above chart).

Firstly, because the time for yourself (Me Time) ranges from actions such as watching TV to buy things (although it has an explicit motivator). In fact, study participants identified some Apps that used in the Me Time. Among them were some games like Angry Birds, social networks like Facebook and commercial Apps like the Amazon one.

Secondly, it is remarkable that 64% of the time a user spends using the smartphone, is dedicated to Me Time activities.

Implications in crowdsourcing activities

Regarding crowdsourcing, these results show a clear conclusion. If you want the participation of the people in your crowdsourcing initiative (whether of the kind), taking into account smartphones is highly recommended.

If for example we are undertaking a crowdopinion initiative, moments dedicated to personal expression, socialization and Me Time, would be the right time for us.

If we talk about a crowdfunding project, in addition to the 3 moments pointed before, you should add the “Shop” one. You have to think that in many cases, the participation in a crowdfunding project looks like a normal purchase (although the product is received later). This is what happens in a pre-sale crowdfunding project.

If we talk about a crowdcasting initiative, where a solution to a problem is being seek, the moments of sense of accomplishment also come into play.

Does this mean I should make a App for my initiative?

Not necessarily. If you can use platforms with a mobile version, you have the problem solved. There are platforms like Kickstarter, InnoCentive (with Innocentive Anywhere) or UserVoice (in this case the App is customizable) with both web and mobile. Others, like Choozum only have a mobile version. A case study of the possible uses of smartphones in crowdsourcing is Ushaidi. It’s an application designed to collect information from sources such as mobile phones, SMS, its own website, emails or tweets. Then the platform uses all that info into a map.

In case you want to launch a crowdsourcing initiative on your own, without relying on other platforms, it would be advisable to at least create a website through which you could easily navigate from a smartphone: simple design, normal fonts, proper color contrast, no Flash (to avoid problems with Apple), etc.

Regardless, you have to take advantage of Twitter, Facebook, etc.. through smartphones.

About Spain…

The potential impact of mobile crowdsourcing initiatives can also be seen in some data that sheds the report “The Information Society in Spain 2013” (which also speaks briefly and superficially about crowdfunding.)

According to the report 18.6 million Spaniards daily connect to internet and check their mobile phone up to 150 times a day. The mobile phone is the most widely device used to access the Internet (considering the issue of mobility) with 63.2 %. The report also noted that 64.1% of internet users in the last three months has engaged in general social networks (Facebook, Twitter or Myspace) creating a user profile or sending messages. This percentage increases to 94.5% among 16 to 24 years.

These data, what indicate? That when interacting with the crowd in a crowdsourcing initiative, the smartphone is one more extension, a perfect complement to your work or home computer, it is another way to publicize your project, to achieve the participation of the people, to communicate with your crowd… Have it in mind.

One comment

  1. En España existe una iniciativa del Centro de Visión por Computador (UAB) la cual explota la potencialidad del móvil para tareas de crowdsourcing. La iniciativa (Knowxel) obtuvo el segundo premio en el concurso " Generación de Ideas 2012" (UAB) y fue reconocida por el MIT Technology Review (2013). Knowxel no solo aprovecha la potencialidad de los dispositivos móviles para el crowdsourcing sino que también ofrece un canal para conectarlo con el crowdfunding. En breve la aplicación saldrá al mercado comercializada por Crowdmobile S.L. (

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