06/24/2014 02:16 pm ET Updated Aug 24, 2014

Crowdsourcing Is Killing Your Copy

Social media has become a staple in the businessing of modern society. I don't need to tell you that. But it's also become a big ass thorn in my side when it comes to practicing the art of mission-driven messaging. There's at least half a dozen reasons why but there's one BIG thorn poking me as of late and I need to take a minute to address it.

One epic trend that's been brought about by the normalization of social media in our business practices is this whole crowdsourcing thing. It's freakin' EVERYWHERE.

On any given day, there are at least three people in my Facebook feed asking their gobs of "friends" for suggestions on, quite possibly, the stupidest things ever.

Who's your dentist?
What should I make for dinner?
What's an iPhone app that creates a collage?

It's as if people have forgotten that Google exists. But that's an entirely different rant for an entirely different place and time.

My point is this crowdsourcing trend has gotten out of hand.

I serve the do-gooders, change-makers, and ruckus-starters of the world by way of the written word. As a copywriter who works exclusively with solopreneurs, social innovators, and change-makers, I see far too many of my clients attempting to crowdsource their copy when they get stuck. And what happens when they do that?

Their missions fueled by noble causes get eaten alive by shoddy copy dreamed up by some passerby with an uninformed opinion.

This. Has. Got. To. STOP.

Crowdsourcing for sales copy has its appeal. Copywriting is a challenge for many and asking a big ole group of people for their ideas on what you should be writing seems smart! It's easy. It requires less brain cells on your part. You don't have to tear your hair out looking for the right words when someone on the other side other side of your LCD screen can find them for you.

Be it a headline or a name for your new offering or even just a fun new way to rephrase an all-too-common idiom, having people that are NOT intimately familiar with your unique voice and your unique message write your copy is just bad news.

Unless you're looking for murky, milky copy that doesn't sound like you and doesn't speak to your very personal, passion-slathered mission, stop asking any ole random bunch of humans to brainstorm your shit for you.

Your mission, your big why, your world-changing ideas, life-altering philosophies, and paradigm-crushing visions... are just that: YOURS.

What on Earth makes you think that a gaggle of randos is going to be able to explain or describe those things better than YOU?

Instead, try one or more of these:

  1. If you want new ideas because your brain cells are tapped: Ask one or two trusted advisors, peers, or close friends that really understand your mission and your brand for their ideas on the words you should use in whatever piece of copy you're crafting. [NOTE: One or two. And ONLY if they *really* get your brand, objectives, and mission.]
  2. If you want to know what appeals most to your target market: Sometimes we need some common consensus in order to know what works best. I get that. If that's what you need, craft a ton of ideas yourself. Go wild with the ideas. Make a list as long as your arm if necessary. But then narrow it down to your top 3-5 based on what makes the most sense to YOU (since it's your copy, your voice, your messaging). Then share those top 3-5 with a small group of people that are in your target market and ask them which they think is best and why. [NOTE: Make sure you're not just asking your sister on this one. Your sister might like "Pixie Pink Poodle Parade" for your next big thing while your target market thinks Poodles are so last year.]
  3. If you really need "the right words" and the stakes are high: Snag a sample session or free consultation with a bona fide copywriter. While I don't generally advocate to take advantage of free sessions with service professionals if you don't intend on considering to hire them (if you do this, that shit's gotta stop too), if the stakes are high and you've gotta 1) name your business, 2) name a pivotal product or service, or 3) write a bio that's going to be seen on a huge platform by loads of prospects... then do it. But make sure to be prepared to compensate the copywriter for their time in some fashion. Maybe that's lining up a couple referrals for them or featuring them in your next newsletter... but you'll need to give them something special to make up for the fact you used their lead-generating free session for your not-gonna-hire-you-but-still-want-your-expertise needs.
  4. Whatever you decide to do to get some new eyes, new perspectives, and new ideas around the language you're using to communicate what your business is or does, don't crowdsource it.

The words you use to inspire the masses, influence change, and shake the world by its shoulders need to be YOUR words spoken in YOUR voice reinforcing YOUR message.

Your potential for impact deserves more than the two cents of a barely-acquaintance who doesn't know your brand.