Innovation in advertising has seen a dramatic surge in recent years, thanks to the obliteration of the “old model” of outbound marketing in favor of a web-based inbound approach. Viral campaigns and crowdsourcing models are taking over the advertising world by interacting with customers to create a mutually beneficial campaign model that both promotes the product and entertains the customer.

Most people think of crowdfunding platforms like Kickstarter and Indiegogo when they think about crowdsourcing. But rather than just small independent groups using these tools to generate support for projects, certain companies have used similar methods for conducting a new type of advertising—one that depends on customer cooperation. When people are interested in helping promote a product and have some motivation for doing so, the content produced—when paired with effective SEO strategies—can reach far more people through organic link-building and natural viral expansion than any business could ever hope for on its own.

Let’s look at the process of how crowdsourcing and SEO can combine to formulate an incredible online campaign.

Step 1. Crowdsourcing ideas

This strategy is very similar to that utilized by crowdfunding platforms, but with one important difference: instead of donating money, the “crowd” contributes ideas and content.

Let’s take one surprising example as an illustration: the McDonald’s Angus burger campaign. You wouldn’t normally associate a global business giant like this with crowdsourcing tactics. But in a recent campaign for the Angus burger, McDonald’s asked customers to submit a short description of the product, and then selected a few to put on billboards alongside that customer’s name.

By doing this, you are contributing to your product’s visibility by spreading it in a number of different directions. Not only do you create the personal appeal of associating the product with a real person who enjoys it, but you get free marketing power from the “crowd” in return for some exposure (on the billboard).

People, in the viral age especially, react positively to opportunities to engage with a product campaign. It need not be as brief or specific as a word or an image, either. You can get people to blog about your product or write a positive review, in exchange for visibility, product samples, or whatever other form of low-cost compensation you can think of.

People will likely be intrigued by gaining some a brief platform for their image, content, or idea, and when they are featured on a campaign, they will then send that information out within their own circles. All of sudden, your business has created ripples in the market without having to hire anyone or do a thing on your own. The value of customer-business interaction in the web-based world we live in is impossible to exaggerate.

Step 2. Using SEO to go viral

Once you’ve generated the crowdsourced content for your product, you then need to know what to do with it all. If you don’t have an in-house marketing team, maximize the spread of content online by outsourcing to the best internet marketing companies and the best SEO consultants. Reliable service on this side will ensure that you get the most possible organic links for your product, all the while generating favorable feedback for the “crowd” and business alike.

Crowdsourcing and SEO together can be a potent combination of fuel for your marketing campaign. The engagement of the consumer engenders a creative and mutually beneficial dynamic that can take your product greater distances than any outbound strategy. Get people excited, and exciting things will happen. The future of marketing has arrived.