Is Co-Creation Digital’s Next Big Thing?

Triana Jarman

What is ‘Co-Creation’?

Taken from the word ‘collaboration’, co-creation means working together in a creative manner, also known as ‘collaborative creation’. As a process, brands partner with key influencers, whether that be bloggers, academics or designers to create content. Key to co-creation is innovation through the sharing of resources and skills to create valuable content.

Isn’t this just another form of content marketing?

Yes, in a way it is. Co-creation is a part of content marketing, but one which enables old content to be rejuvenated and new innovative content to be produced through collaboration. Think content, collaboration and creativity, not simply content.

So it’s an aspect of content marketing, rather than one and the same.

Well then, how is co-collaboration being used on a practical level?

The way we purchase today has changed drastically. Through sites like TripAdvisor and Amazon, consumers are now able to communicate their thoughts on products to a wider audience and we’re outspoken about what we want. In order to create the best products today, more and more organisations are co-creating with their users.

At Sift Media, we’ve just launched the new UKBusinessForums which has had a huge technical, design and UX overhall. Throughout the creative process we spoke to and collated thoughts from our key users to see what they thought the site was lacking previously, aiming to create the best product possible for them; co-creation. From this, we’ve built an innovative site which has had user input at every turn.

What else has led to the increased use of co-collaboration?

Content marketing itself has meant that articles and whitepapers need to be based on increasingly deep thought which is why academics and key thinkers are being used more and more.

The rise of Celebrity culture in the last decade has also led to the increased use of their power over audiences to enhance brands. Combine that with the deterioration in brand trust, using celebrities to endorse or help create a product means that brands are empowered with some of the audiences trust in particular celebrities themselves.

The over-arching power of bloggers and social media has also enhanced the need for brands to utilise key influences from this sphere to increase their reach and brand power. Tie this in with the power of the consumer and it becomes vital for brands to match their own marketing plans with external kudos.

I haven’t noticed co-creation being used, so who’s been involved?

The like of Nike, Hallmark, P&G, Mozilla and your very own Sift Media have all adopted co-creation techniques in recent years. IBM also hosted an ‘Innovation Jam’ which produced over 46,000 new ideas in a single year!

The international FMCG giant Coca Cola also used co-creation when it asked their online community to come up with new adverts for them. Not only did Coca Cola gain thousands of new ideas for future marketing content, but trust and brand enhancement came from engaging with their audience on a personal level.

I want in! How can I make co-collaboration work for me in B2B?

  • Don’t recruit. Look for the outspoken, wider audience view. By being honest and accepting feedback, you’ll build brand trust and come up with innovative new ideas. Using a targeted group or trying to prove your own ideas through key influencers is more likely to be detrimental to your brand image.
  • Co-creation works best when you have a strong community who want to give you their ideas and be involved. UKBF for example has a loyal user base who really appreciated us wanting their insight. Utilise your community and go from there, it’ll likely only expand with open co-creation.
  • Don’t expect to have a light-bulb moment. Co-creation is about working together, bouncing ideas off one another, critiquing and praising to access real innovation.
  • Get out of your bubble and into theirs. If you want to access key influencers and audiences, approach them in their own environment. Whether that’s emailing bloggers or tweeting; an advert on your site isn’t going to get nearly as much engagement as going direct to your audience networks.
  • Be authentic and respect that everyone is a key influencer. In order for co-collaboration to work you have to really want to hear audience input and understand their points are valued, even if they don’t fit your current mould. Once you realise this and embrace it, you’ll have one of the most powerful forms of viral marketing possible.

Additional resources:

Why co-creation is the next big digital PR trend

Collaboration and Co-Creation for Brand Innovation

How Coca-Cola uses co-creation to crowdsource new marketing ideas