CrowdSPRING (the company uses all those CAPS), is an online, Chicago-based global marketplace for creative content buyers and sellers. It's founders use Twitter extensively to find participants. Crowdspring (I hate all those caps) will be included in either my Business-to-Business chapter or my Small Business chapter. It is one of several companies that fits snugly into either.
The following are my notes from conversations with Ross Kimbarovsky, company co-founder"
Founded in May 2008, it works quite simply. A potential buyer signs up and announces it is looking for a logo, website, marketing materials or some other creative content on the CrowdSpring website. The buyer can stipulate deadlines and what they are willing to pay for it. Then a global talent pool of more than 12,000 people in over 140 countries can choose to bid for the work--not with a written proposal but with sample artwork.
The average project gets more than 70 samples for each buyer to review. "Buyers can then review, sort, rate, provide feedback and collaborate with them until both sides are satisfied," Kimbarovsky explained. The back-and-fourth dialog can be as public or private as the buyer wishes it to be. Once the deal is set, Crowdspring handles the necessary paperwork. When it's a done deal, Crowdspring tags a 15% surcharge onto what the buyer pays.
Some of the buyers are well known in the social media community. Author, investor and entrepreneur Guy Kawasaki held a t-shirt design competition for his new Alltop company and Charlene Li, co-author of Groundswell, [and author of Twitterville's Foreword] paid a mere $400 for the design of her new Altimeter consulting firm logo.
Big brands are also coming in to Crowdspring. A few them include, Epic Records, who contracted a designer for a Judas Priest album design. Spreadshirt, the custom t-shirt company and ConAgra Foods which used Crowdspring for a private project where competitors never got to see the design.
Kimbarovsky told me that Twitter is at the very core of Crowdspring's marketing strategy, helping the company find both buyers and sellers. Kimbarovsky, co-founder Mike Samson are both active on Twitter as are other employees. Many of their very first customers came to them through Twitter. This was fortunate because the two started with a zero budget for marketing. Instead, they invested their own time on Twitter. Through Twitter, they have met and interacted with thousands of people and from those thousands have picked up several hundred customers.
Speed is also a factor. "Within minutes of a Twitter mention, we see immediate results - both in terms of followers on Twitter and, many times, users on the Crowdspring site," Kimbarovsky said. He also likes what Twitter does to brand perception.
"Twitter has helped us expand our brand and prove ourselves as a progressive company who adopts new ideas, new communication methods and is on the forefront of the online world. In other words, it would be a brand failure for us NOT to be on Twitter. How can you claim that you're blazing a trail for a new online world and then sit on the sidelines? We've also been able to appear much larger, much more organized and much more impressive than we truly are (unfortunately) by beating the big guys to the punch - being faster, more nimble and more active."
" Twitter is also the fastest, best and most accurate direct response marketing vehicle that I've ever found. You're welcome to buy a mailing list of small businesses who said they were interested in buying small business services 3 months ago, print some postcards and mail them. Or, you can put your ear to the ground and listen as hundreds of people a day tweet 'boy, I could sure use a logo for my new business'. It doesn't get any better than that, " he concluded.