Recollective presents participants with numerous opportunities to collaborate and connect as a community. Primarily, this collaboration takes place within either Discussion Topics or Activity Response Streams.
An online research community is inherently ethnographic. A group of related individuals are engaged and observed with the aim of better understanding what defines them as a group. At least the opportunity to approach the data from this perspective always exists, even if that isn’t the explicit aim of the researcher.
One key component of traditional ethnographic research is field-based data collection that prioritizes observation over direct questioning. Observation allows the researcher to contextualize the gaps between what people say versus what they actually do. A research community however, removes the researcher from the field and relies on the community interface to collect data for them.
And that can be a positive!
Following the Recollective release in August 2017, you now have a choice of engaging your participants using not just the standard asynchronous Activities over the course of days, weeks, month or years but also in Realtime via text-based focus groups.
Both methodologies present their own distinct advantages and when deployed together, achieve a unique synergy.
A couple of weeks ago we were basking in the sunshine and heat of Atlanta, attending the Insight Innovation Exchange (IIeX) conference. Each year provides a fantastic opportunity to not only meet new and existing customers, but to also soak up some great presentations by speakers from North America.
This year three themes struck me as particularly prominent:
- Visceral visualization - Virtual environments and more robust media in general
- Interrogating respondent’s implicit motivations and feelings
- Automation of analysis
For interesting results, mix teenagers with a dash of alcohol in an online research community, garnish with lime (or the branding of your choice).
Recently, the team here at Recollective supported that kind of cocktail community and it highlighted several key advantages of communities and online qual in general. Namely:
- The Safety of a Virtual Environment
- The Value of Familiar Surroundings
- Respondent Attention Retention
The community ran over 2 weeks with 20 participants. It aimed to establish a comprehensive understanding of recently of-age participants’ relationships with various liquors and how these associations influence their in-store decision making.
Though these advantages were particularly evident given the unique variables at play in this study, these benefits can be found and exploited in a wide variety of industries and with a broad set of research objectives, regardless of the community’s size and scope.
Not long ago I found myself in the midst of what was disguised as a quick online survey but proved to be a significant investment of my time. I opted in because I wanted to contribute; I opted out because I didn’t want to contribute that much.
Striking the right balance between workload and incentive is difficult. When I’m working with a team that’s new to research communities I can, understandably, expect to hear at least one question dealing with this dilemma:
“How many questions should/can I ask in a day?”
“How much time can I expect participants to spend contributing to the community on a given day?”
“Is X enough incentive for Y time spent?”
I can provide some broad guidelines based on my exposure to other communities but I always conclude with a confident, “it depends.” The answers to these questions depend on a number of variables: demographics, subject matter, incentive offered etc.
One of the first projects I worked on as a marketing researcher was an ad testing study with an automotive company. As the study progressed, I found myself invested in a brand I previously had no stake or interest in. I quickly realized that the brand’s success became, even if in a very minor way, my own success.
I’ve never been a participant in a study similar to the one I mention above, but I would imagine that under the right circumstances, a participant might experience a similar affective response, namely, the emergence or cultivation of brand loyalty. Opening a conversation with participants generates goodwill and emotional generosity. This is not a new idea, but it does leave us with the question, under what circumstances can these feelings and responses be optimized?
Under what circumstances can we cultivate brand loyalty, a sense of ownership, and personal identification during the research process?
Online communities change the way we think about ourselves and those around us.
I was recently discussing this with a friend of mine, through Facebook chat, of course. She is a researcher in a psychology study (currently under review) that found Facebook users often experience jealousy and a certain degree of dissatisfaction with the current state of their lives as a result of exposure to other users’ posts.
People in our online social networks typically only post (i.e. promote) positive aspects of their lives that effectively creates the illusion of a failure-free population. When we occupy these networks our perceived flaws or failures are magnified in the absence of other similar lived and shared experiences.
This study is an intriguing example of a community's collective bias on a massive scale. The social climate, not necessarily the forum or network itself, encourages positive contributions while discouraging negatives ones (arguably to our own personal and social detriment).