How I crowdsourced my puppy's name

Summary:If you can engage your social media audience and create interest, they will be there to help you out as well. The power of an interested, supportive, on-demand focus group is not to be underestimated. Plus, there are puppy pictures.

So you think this article is merely a thinly-veiled, gratuitous attempt to sneak puppy pictures into this blog? Au contraire, mon ami.

This article contains a deeply-valuable case study about how you can use your social network to gather sentiment intelligence, try out possible product names, and...

... okay, fine. It's also a way to show off our new puppy. Even so, there are lessons to be learned. Say hello to Pixel:

Ladies and gentlemen, we present to you Pixel, the newest member of our family. Picture is slightly blurry because puppy moves darned fast.

Last week, my wife and I adopted an adorable, highly energetic Yorkie-poo (part Yorkshire terrier, part poodle, and, yeah until he's potty trained, part poo). We came up with a bunch of names. I had my favorites. My wife had hers. And, of course, the puppy had to be comfortable with whatever we were to choose.

A couple of the names we chose were pretty good, but we didn't have an immediate winner. The little guy wasn't making it any easier. He wasn't responding to any specific name. We needed opinions -- and we needed them fast, so he could start learning and beginning to adjust to his name.

Where else to turn but our instant focus group in the cloud? We recruited our Facebook and Twitter friends and followers.

I will admit that it is undoubtedly easier to get friends and fans to vote on a puppy name than, say, the name for yet another CRM solution. Even so, the principle is the same. Share a bunch of ideas, see what your friends, followers, and fans contribute, look for innovative new ideas, and then go with what seems right.

I'm not going to fill this article with all the names we considered before we finalized on Pixel for our pup, but I will tell you that we had something like 50 responses within an hour or so of our post. Friends suggested new names (some good, some silly).

People also picked their favorites out of the names we suggested. As it turns out, Pixel was not only the crowd favorite in terms of numerical count, but the one we started to gravitate towards as well.

The business take-away for this article is pretty simple: consider crowdsourcing without fuss. You don't need to set up massive focus groups or months of meetings. Sometimes just shooting out ideas to your followers will give you the opportunity to gauge sentiment quickly and easily -- while also allowing your supporters to enjoy participating in the process.

Extra points go to the readers who can post which famous, much beloved science fiction author named a character Pixel (and no, it wasn't a dog).

Oh, and for those of you who are still convinced this was gratuitous attempt to sneak puppy pictures into this blog: click onto the next page. There are three more pictures. You know you can't resist... Puppy!

By the way, I'm doing more updates on Twitter and Facebook than ever before, especially since Pixel has become part of the family. Be sure to follow me on Twitter at @DavidGewirtz and on Facebook at

Topics: Social Enterprise, After Hours, SMBs


In addition to hosting the ZDNet Government and ZDNet DIY-IT blogs, CBS Interactive's Distinguished Lecturer David Gewirtz is an author, U.S. policy advisor and computer scientist. He is featured in The History Channel special The President's Book of Secrets, is one of America's foremost cyber-security experts, and is a top expert on savi... Full Bio

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