Crowdporting is a term I coined in an article on using crowdsourcing to get ideas for content. This can be content for your websites, blogs, webinars, webcasts, print articles, opinion pieces, newsletters, press releases, marketing materials, or any other content you need to create for your business or organization.

Crowdporting is a portmanteau word because it blends together the meaning and sounds of two otherwise unrelated words. In this case: crowd + importing = crowdporting.

I define a crowdport as an online destination where people gather and exchange ideas that can be used for creating content—a place where ideas for content are loaded and unloaded, just as shipments are loaded and unloaded at traditional ports.

It works as a verb, too, where the act of crowdporting equates to soliciting feedback and ideas at one of these online destinations.

Crowdporting isn’t new; we just never had a name by which to call it. Here are a few of the best crowdports in existence today:

MyBlogU

MyBlogU requires registration and a small fee to access the collaborative community within the website. It is designed to be a very high quality crowdport where you’re almost guaranteed to get lots of cooperation and unique perspectives when you post crowdporting requests.

Here, you can set up a brainstorming request to solicit ideas from the crowd. This is all done behind the closed doors of a password-protected premium site, so Google cannot index this rich conversation taking place online. Thus, if you use the ideas shared by the crowd on your website, even parts of them verbatim, Google will still view it as original.

Another interesting feature of MyBlogU is the ability to ask for and participate in group interviews where multiple people will answer the interview questions you set forth. This is a unique way to get a wide selection of direct quotes and case studies to use in your content.

Yahoo Answers

Yahoo is one of the oldest websites on the Internet so even the biggest web behemoths like Google are still playing catch up on the volume for certain features Yahoo offers.

For example, Yahoo Mail still has many times over the number of active users than Google Mail because Yahoo Mail was launched in 1997 and Gmail wasn’t released to the general public until 2007—ten years later! Thus, Yahoo Mail has more users not because the service they offer is better than Gmail, but because they’ve been in the free email business for a much longer time.

The same is true for Yahoo Answers. This feature was launched in 2005, but it replaced similar features that existed for many years before this. Thus, they are the oldest question and answer resource on the internet that is still alive and kicking. Because of this, the volume of people who utilize this feature is staggering!

For the sheer volume of responses you’ll get if you post a question, Yahoo Answers is at least worth a try, even if you have to wade through some annoying and silly answers to get to the good stuff. Post a question and watch the answers roll in. Ask your question multiple times in slightly different ways and you may get very different answers, so be sure to experiment.

Social Media

Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn are the top three social media platforms to get involved with in the business world, but any social media platform with active participation will serve as a great crowdport. Don’t worry about which one(s) will bring the best results; just use your favorite(s).

Set up an account that is specifically for your business or organization so your personal life doesn’t get intertwined and derail your crowdporting efforts. Post your questions or ask for feedback and keep track of the people who offer the most stimulating answers.

From there, refine or broaden your questions as needed to get answers that better address your needs. Ask follow-up questions. Ask people if they can elaborate on their ideas. The more you interact with you crowdporters, the better the responses will be.

 

Niche Blogs With High Comment Activity

If you are working in a specific niche, one of the best types of crowdports you can get involved with are active blogs in your vertical. By “active” I mean two things.

First, new posts should publish frequently. It doesn’t have to be daily, but it must be regular enough to keep new material posted all the time.

Second, and most important, the niche blog should have active participants in the comments section. All the better if the blog owner and loyal readers frequently comment.

The best way to find these active niche blogs is to simply conduct Google keyword searches consisting of real questions that people in your niche would want to know. You’ll find the active blogs popping up in the top hundred or so results.

Forums Specific To Your Industry or Niche

Depending on your niche, forums have the potential to be the most productive crowdports. They don’t even necessarily have to be directly about your vertical.

For example, suppose you are a real estate agent or real estate manager (or you have a client who is a real estate agent or manager) for a specific geographic region. You’d be very familiar with a popular site called City-Data.com, which offers forums for multiple geographic regions within each state. These forums are very active and are often used by people who are moving to a new area because it gives them a chance to ask questions of those that already live there! The site is not set up to be specifically for this purpose, but it is used for this purpose by many people.

Even though it is against the rules to post anything commercial, the subforums of this site are a goldmine for real estate agents looking for good content to write about. Just as with active blogs, one of the best ways to find active forums is to search pertinent questions on Google and see which forums pop up in the top hundred or so listings.

The Importance Of Creating Good Karma

For the purpose of our discussion on crowdporting, the act of “creating good karma” is the process of building loyalty, respect and trust within the online social circles of your favorite crowdports. Simply put, the more good karma you create, the more people will be respect and trust you.

Thus, when you ask questions in the social circles of your favorite crowdports, these loyal people will be more than happy to help you. You’ll get more participation and people will be willing to spend more time to give you their very best ideas. They will also be more willing to spend extra time elaborating on their ideas and responding to others who chime in. In the end, you’ll get a far better response to your crowdporting efforts.

You may need to adjust your mindset before you start the process of creating good karma. If you are too focused on your own ultimate needs of crowdporting (i.e., gaining insightful and useful ideas from the social circles within your crowdports) this will show through loud and clear, no matter how much you try to conceal this fact. To create good karma, you must be motivated in your mind and in your heart to sincerely help others as your top priority.

Consider the timeless example of the Mom and Pop business that customers are fiercely loyal to and refer all their friends to. The owners may not have the cheapest prices in town, but they give generously of their time and knowledge and treat their customers like old friends. They get to know customers personally. They share in their hopes and dreams and commiserate with them when they are down. And their customers repay this favor with steadfast patronization.

The more you get to know the people in the social circles of your crowdports, the more they will trust you and care about helping you when you need it.

Keep It Fun

If you want people to share their best ideas, keep things lighthearted and fun—at least most of the time. You may even want to inject some humor from time to time. This will help people be comfortable enough to share any “crazy” ideas they may have, which is exactly what you want! This approach will also help them feed off the creative juices of others they are interacting with. In the end, you’ll get more of that collective synergy where the whole becomes bigger than the parts.

I created this word to draw more attention to the specific use of crowdsourcing for getting killer content ideas. You’re probably already crowdporting in some way, and it’s likely you’ve used at least one of the types of crowdports I reviewed.

Remember, though, crowdporting is more than asking questions on forums and blog posts. It’s about creating trust and goodwill in tightknit communities. It’s about forming relationships with the intent to help solve problems. And most of all, it’s about discovering unanswered questions and unsolved problems, and developing content to answer those questions and solve those problems.