Market researchers work with certain online communities either to conduct studies on a wide range of issues, or as a sample for research on a particular topic. Such groups are usually categorized according to specific parameters or topics, or they may consist of customers who volunteer to work with a company. Working with these communities allows customers to directly provide constructive feedback to companies, helps organizations improve on their services or products according to customers’ comments, ensures savings both on time and costs, and essentially allows efficient, qualitative research
We, at SurveyTabs, enable our clients to access such groups in order to gain extensive insight on the required issues, but it is essential to understand some relevant aspects as follows:
Online research communities may be differentiated on the basis of their
Short term communities are usually used for a specific project whereas long term communities are accessed for a range of different topics.
Closed communities consist of only those customers that have been directly sent invitations, whereas open communities may recruit by invitations through other members, websites, and so on.
Number of members
Smaller a community, more will be the sense of belonging and greater the level of interaction; while larger the community is, the more expensive and more time consuming all processes are.
Ideally, instead of using incentives to draw in respondents, the community must be made more engaging. This is because using incentives, be it money or gifts, may change the dynamics of the relationship between the customers and the company, and subsequently impact the research itself.
For best results, companies should allow an agency, such as SurveyTabs, to manage their online communities for as opposed to clients, an agency will have access to more tools, more R&D professionals, a large variety of analysing and reporting techniques, time at hand, and so on.
One of the key issues researchers should consider while designing a community is deciding on the kind of community it will be. The design can vary on factors such as the time period or validity, invitation criteria, and number of members. The other aspect is that of the overall appearance of the community, which can vary from being extremely company centric to having only certain elements relating to the company such as the branding. Further, researchers have the option of adopting a number of methods to invite participants. They may use customer databases, or place advertisements on different social networking sites, websites or traditional mediums such as newspapers or television channels.
Setting the terms
SurveyTabs helps its client in determining the kind of terms and conditions that must ideally be part of the community rules. Some of the points to consider include:
SurveyTabs provides its clients with suitable experts that can supervise research communities, provide topics of and lead discussions, and analyse conversations. Moreover, even issues like that of negative feedback by participants are handled by the administrator, who may either remove certain threads, or contact the concerned participants directly. Researchers should allow experts to move in to manage the community so that it be made more interactive and engaging for the participants. In order to achieve the same, it is generally ensured that:
It is imperative that an ethical code of conduct and specific quality control guidelines are adhered to when creating or managing an online research community. One of the most essential issues to deal with is that of privacy and security of the community members, as there is a possibility of compromising on both within this method of research. A way of avoiding the same would be to disable any form of communication between the members, as well as the option of assigning profile pictures.