Social media has provided the avenue for people to gather and create a so-called “online crowd”. In plain sight, this crowd could just be seen as noise. However, they possess immense power. From fundraising, social movement, and driving innovation, the crowd provides various opportunities for the future. The question is, then, how to maximize their power?[ja1]
To begin with, the power of the crowd could be seen at least in two aspects: the business and the society, especially on the internet. One of the most evident examples is people empowering others to join their campaign. All of this has created various success stories that could easily be accessed on multiple platforms like kitabisa.com. One of the latest highlights in fundraising is the Note-Dame fire which raised millions from across the globe in one day.
Moreover, the internet crowd does not only gather online but also turning online to offline like in the case of Paris yellow-vest movement, which takes momentum into the streets, the Arab Spring, and so forth. These new social movements have unique characteristics in which a change happen due to the power of the many, not one person leading the change. Therefore, the scope and impact of these movements could be unpredictable and create massive transformation in society and making it difficult for the authorities to track the movement.
After understanding the robustness of the online crowd, just like any other aspect, the online crowd could generate both positive and negative effects. To maximize the power of the online crowd, it must start with ensuring that the online crowd creates positive outcomes. Currently, there is an increasing number of internet crowd for negative issues such as the expansion of hoax, fake news, and harmful contents. These issues should be controlled by the authorities and the social media platform to create better governance of the internet exists to create a safe space for everyone without violating anyone’s rights.
As a result, the power of the crowd will be optimized to create positive change in society. Besides the relevant authorities, the users or the internet crowd themselves are responsible for creating a safe internet space. This means that factual content must be generated, and the ‘silent majority’ should not exist. On the other side, noble causes such as the movement towards climate change and other empowering messages must be maximized. In this case, the media also plays a role to highlight the factual content rather than highlighting the harmful content.
Besides creating a safe online environment, maximizing the power of the internet crowd could be done for greater innovation in various sectors. To start with, companies and organizations could gather insights from the already existing online crowd. Currently, the field of social media analysis is on the rise. Regardless, not every organization has utilized them properly. As an example, in the business sector of cosmetics, companies could easily collect the publicly available social media conversations with the related keywords and generate a word cloud from it. This word cloud could then be analyzed to identify current customer insights. As a result, this approach will significantly reduce the time and resources cost to hand out traditional surveys to customer.
Another way to maximize the online crowd is to outsourced innovation. Before the era of social media, it is unthinkable even to do such things or trusting external parties to drive innovation. This was done by Netflix through their contest in which they gave out $1million dollar for anyone who could improve their algorithm accuracy by 10%. Finally, after three years, a team eventually succeed in the 10% challenge.
Although it might seem a long time, every time a new team submitted their entry although it not yet reached 10% improvements, it becomes the property of Netflix and Netflix could directly implement it in their platforms. As a result, Netflix gains continuous improvements towards their service without having to push their developers, in turn they have the world to help them in their innovation.
To conclude, the advancement of technology has created a new type of crowd, which is referred to as the ‘online crowd.’ Although they are not really physically visible, they possess various powers, and all sorts of organizations should maximize their influence by supporting in creating a safe internet space, gathering insights from their conversation, and driving innovation through them.
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Editor: Janitra Haryanto
 Brice-Saddler, M., 2019. Notre Dame aftermath: Donors pledge hundreds of millions to restoration effort - The Washington Post. [online] Available at: <https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/2019/04/16/yesterday-notre-dame-burned-today-people-around-world-raised-millions-rebuild/?noredirect=on&utm_term=.0ff6c3ce8e6b> [Accessed 15 Jul. 2019].