People generate massive volumes of data on the Internet about cities. Researchers may engage these crowds to fill data gaps and better understand and inform planning decisions. Crowdsourced tools for data collection must be supported by outreach; however, researchers typically have limited experience with marketing and promotion. Our goal is to provide guidance on effective promotion strategies. We evaluated promotion efforts for BikeMaps.org, a crowdsourced tool for cycling collisions, near misses, hazards, and thefts. We analyzed website use (sessions) and incidents reported, and how they related to promotion medium (social, traditional news, or in-person), intended audience (cyclists or general), and community context (cycling mode share, cycling facilities, and a survey in the broader community). We compared four Canadian cities, three with active promotion, and one without, over eight months. High-use events were identified in time periods with above average web sessions. We found that promotion was essential for use of the project. Targeting cycling specific audiences resulted in more data submitted, while targeting general audiences resulted in greater age and gender diversity. We encourage researchers to use tools to monitor and adapt to promotion medium, audience, and community context. Strategic promotion may help achieve more diverse representation in crowdsourced data.
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