Last month, I posted about 8 Emerging Trends in Social Media as defined by digital guru, Steve Rubel. One of those trends identifies the current shift from companies and brands moving beyond open communication with customers to engaging customers and audiences in a collaborative manner.

Video stands out as one area of social media that has experienced a big shift toward collaboration. Earlier this year, PR WEEK announced Edelman’s launch of Edelman Studios. The idea being that Edelman is working to connect clients with anyone who has a creative idea to submit around a particular project assignment.

Most of the videos that we consider “viral” are typically either accidental or created by ordinary people with creative ideas. The notion being that consumers can connect with other consumers in a much more authentic manner than agencies that focus too much time on creating overproduced, message-saturated spots.

Dell and Starbucks are two additional companies that have done a great job of establishing a collaborative framework with customers. Dell’s IdeaStorm allows users to submit and vote on new ideas for Dell to implement with their various products and services. My Starbucks Idea focuses on a similar mission  of opening key doors to consumer insight and getting past the belief that only corporate employees have solutions to improving a company and its products.

In the past, companies would spend thousands upon thousands of dollars on focus groups and surveys. Both Dell and Starbucks have essentially created ongoing virtual focus groups that serve as excellent forums for generating immediate feedback while also providing a channel for direct consumer influence.

On the flip side, there are also sites such as the Behance Network that work to provide a collaborative space to showcase and connect the creative work of designers, photographers and others with project demands posed by companies and corporations.

What other companies do you see out there creating similar models to move beyond open communication to collaboration?


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Join the conversation! 2 Comments

  1. Thanks Scott – As the manager of Dell’s IdeaStorm, I couldn’t agree more that collaborating with your customers is vital, especially in these economic times. I was able to recently co-present to an audience at the Dreamforce conference with Network Solutions who have recently launched Ideas are Power at

    More and more companies are applying this methodology and allowing customers to vote helps everyone understand the priorities.

  2. Thanks for sharing the link and dropping by Vida. You all have certainly set a model for which we all can learn a great deal. I look forward to seeing where this model of input leads us all.


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