Online Communities offer a simple, cost effective way of communicating with a target audience for the purpose of market research projects. Participant will build relationships with the brand and their peers by readily sharing their views and opinions. As a result, thoughts and habits of a targeted group of participants will be capture. First, decide what type of community is needed, set clear objectives/goals and the duration of the community.
Researchers can set up an online community as source of data for a short or long time period. In both cases engaged respondents are key to conduct qualitative market research studies. Hence, the community needs vocal, passionate, motivated participants that help each other, share ideas and answer questions. With that on mind, long-term communities can be more difficult to keep that interest. Because the participants needs to be motivated and engaged enough to continue participating actively. What to do?
Make it fun! Put yourself in the participants shoes. Certainly, people need to feel it’s worth their time to participate. Thus, after you recruited them explain what you expect from them and what they will get. For this you can include graphic material: videos, photos, diagrams. For instance, make use of creative videos to guide them thru the activities. In other words, ensure participants that they will enjoy the experience.
For ethnography research, encourage them to do a vlog (no, it is not misspelling). It is a diary in video that can provide you with unspoken cues and depth of insights that may otherwise be missed. You will be able to study consumers’ daily shopping/usage routines. Respondents will express freely about their routines, thoughts, feelings, and experiences while using or purchasing a product. Another idea is to ask them to create a story with a collage of photos. It could be story explaining their usage and purchasing decisions. This will generates a level of depth and detail of their consumer habits in everyday life without an observer influence. This means, insights into what respondents actually do and how that behavior drives their decisions.
When looking for Customer Feedback, solicit input on key topics to gather insights, plans, and problem-solve comments. Reward participation with points and achievement badges. Invite customers to contribute new ideas on how to solve a problem in a photo competition. Or ask how they would caption a photo with a specific product. Listen in and observe how consumers are honestly reacting to product or service.
For Brand research, track consumers’ awareness, perceptions, and experience thru mini surveys or polls. Ask open-ended questions to gain deeper perceptions, opinions and emotional responses to your brand, product or service. Frame your question in a positive way to lead participants to constructive opinions. Challenge them by asking for memes that express their sentiment and satisfaction.
Friendly competition and rewards are always good stimulus to participate. Create champion status and recognize them by give shout outs to people doing great stuff on your weekly messages. Promote members of your community to special positions, name them “moderator for a day” giving the opportunities to lead discussions on important issues. On that same line of rewarding, imagine having one of the protagonist of a novela for an interview with questions from the participants. reward then with a visit to the studios.
There is a series of activities that can be created inside the community to generate insights. Insights to be use for co-creation, concept testing, service designs, etc. But above all else, avoid falling into a routine. Find out what other communities are doing and get inspiration for new activities. Do a well-made video to update a community about a consultation’s progress and finally, to inform participants the results of their comments and ideas.
HBO online community has benefited from fun activities to generate insights. Its case will be presented at the ESOMAR conference on Wednesday the 13th at 9:20. Follow us on Twitter (@ecmetrics) to get our live tweets with the highlights of the conference.