This post is part of a 5-part series. How can we all be successful with the next wave of video on the Web whether you are a show producer or a brand? Crowdsourcing topics is one of four important priorities and is technically one of my Idea Bar posts.
This series started with this core idea. That's what makes it part of theIdea Bar series which is full of good ideas - each driven by expertise and naivete. Ultimately this simple idea led me to want to throw out my own model on how niche video programs can succeed online.
Threadless as you all likely know is the quintessential Cinderella story for crowdsourcing. T-shirt designers post designs, the crowd votes them up (or not) and the top designs are produced and sold.
Why not do this with your show? In the previous post on Focusing on Value to Niche Communities, I covered catering to the needs of a defined, lean-forward affinity group. Why not ask them for ideas and votes on what would make a compelling show for them? What would make them want to susbcribe? Just like Threadless has the "I'd Buy That" button, our show marketplace would have a "I'd Watch That" and an "I'd Watch That Every Week" voting buttons. The principle is the same - prove there is an audience before going into costly production. What a great way to get marketers on board before you have actually killed yourself bootstrapping production and building an audience.
Now lest you think I am slipping into the territory of the movie, The Player, where the studio exec decrys the need of writers by saying all we have to do is pick out a story from the paper and, "bam" there's our script, let me clarify. Let the crowd tell us what they would find compelling - what topics, what participants, what format - and then let the creative juices flow. We are not talking "exquisite corpse" here.
The biggest barrier to this model is likely to be "ego." Many show creators are trying to express an idea they are personally invested in. It's tough to become open to the audience. Beyond the poor quality of many videos, this issue - which can be called "control" - might be one of the larger barriers to success. Most filmmakers I know are passionate storytellers first. To win online, you must be passionate about your audience first. Diggnation seems to do a good job of this.
Next New Networks started with the promise of a hundred online shows for all sorts of audiences. They have quite a few today but more like 15 than a hundred. What would happen if married that ambition with a crowdsourced model?