Angie's List is great, but not free. Yelp and Google reviews are free, but not great. Kickstarter has its problems, and GoFundMe is just a mess. But while all these platforms are imperfect, crowdsourcing as a whole--in its many formats--continues to have a growing impact on how we start companies, run them, and do business with them as individuals.

With that said, the most interesting part of crowdsourcing and community curation is, without a doubt, what we haven't seen yet. Newer and better versions of the phenomenon are being developed and implemented all the time, and it's well worth it to keep an eye on the sector, which includes: 

Freelancer Contests

With Fiverr and other platforms, you do your best to choose a contractor who you think has the best potential to get you what you need, and then basically cross your fingers that there won't be any hitches in the deal. Freelancer.com offers a similar setup with its "projects" postings. With the site's contest format, though, you offer a fixed "prize" (basically a contract) and people will compete for the job, leaving you to choose what works best for you, and minimizing your risk in the process. True story, my friend just posted a contest for a logo design and received 263 entries for just $15.

Ideacoil

The concept behind this startup is unique--businesses who sign up can offer incentives to customers for providing personalized feedback. Maybe you've wanted to tell a company what you liked or disliked about them, but then thought, "It's not worth my time." You were probably right. But with Ideacoil, that changes, and your reviews will earn you rewards. It could be huge for startups who want to continue improving their product or service, but lack the cash to spend on difficult market research.

99 Designs

99designs is basically Freelancer.com with arguably nicer front-end development. The process is virtually identical, and both sites have 100% customer satisfaction ratings. The biggest difference is in how you pay, with 99designs requiring a one-time fee of $299 in order to post, but a major benefit is more definitive community feedback on the design. That feedback is invaluable when trying to make a crucial branding decision.

Facebook's "Looking For" Feature

If you still don't know where to turn in a moment of need, look no further than a Facebook feature that is hiding right under your nose. What makes Facebook's version of crowdsourcing so effective is that it's not just strangers offering recommendations, but trusted friends and acquaintances. The best part is that any recommendations you get can be mapped (if it's a physical location) and saved in one spot, allowing you to say goodbye to forgotten folders of bookmarks.

Depending on your needs, product, or service offering, consider the power of community to help you make your next decision (small or large).

Published on: Oct 18, 2018
The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.