Getting the most out of online bulletin boards

14 Feb 2018 | Research & Business Knowledge

Following a recent Egroup request, Nanda Marchant has collated and summarised the hints and advice given by other ICG members about maximising the value of online bulletin boards.

Increasingly in the research world, online bulletin boards, diaries and the like are being used as a way to get consumer insights.  They have the advantage of enabling participants to easily capture a slice of their daily life – be it a photo, video or opinion – and upload it for researchers to pore over and analyse.  Instead of just sitting in a focus group and discussing what they do, these techniques let us into the consumer’s world in a more intimate and timely way, allowing us to see for ourselves what they are cooking, watching on TV, or whatever else we need to know more about.

Used well, as part of careful research design and questioning, they can be a valuable addition to many projects.  Equally, if deployed with minimal forethought, they can prove costly and ineffective, with participants lacking motivation and just doing the bare minimum to get paid.  It’s the old adage of ‘garbage in, garbage out’.

Here we offer tips on getting the most out of such exercises, based on past projects of this kind:

  • It starts with good recruitment – clear briefings to both recruiters and participants about exactly what is needed and how long it will take, and a fair incentive for the task
  • Make it clear whose job it will be to chase, follow up on poor participation, lack of photos, etc (if the recruiter is meant to do this, they may need to add a little extra to their fee)
  • Brief each respondent individually by phone to ensure they are absolutely clear on what’s expected/the technology is working, etc
  • If practical/budget allows, consider even a face to face briefing (a small test showed quality of response and engagement to be much higher using this approach)
  • Add a short introductory video message from the moderator at the start, and repeat clear ‘how to’ instructions on the tasks ahead.  Thank participants for their help, explain how important the project is and how valued their input is
  • Get them to also give a personal introduction up front, so an emotional connection is created
  • Send personal private messages to check everything is ok in the case of poor response
  • Have a few replacements on standby in case of early drop-out
  • Drip-feed the tasks in a staggered fashion, presented as different tasks or topics.  Do not reveal the content all at once, to avoid them rushing through – consider locking the tasks so they cannot move on until the previous one has been completed
  • Provide early and regular feedback, so respondents know they are doing a good job, their comment or photo was really liked etc, to motivate them to do more.  Don’t leave it until late in the day, make it seem like you are really listening and finding their input useful as it goes along
  • Consider a ‘per-day or per task’ incentive, to ensure there is motivation to log on each day/at the time a new task is revealed
  • Consider a bonus for ‘the most creative/insightful answer’, or best video, etc to generate some healthy competition, or a bonus at the end for a longer board
  • Where relevant, encourage respondents to comment on eachothers’ answers to build threads and gain deeper insights
  • Push back to the client if the project starts to grow/more questions are added that go beyond what was originally asked of respondents – or offer them a small bonus for any extra work

Many ICG members have managed projects involving online boards, mobile apps, diaries and the like.  Their ideas and experience have been vital in creating this list of suggestions.  Heeding some of these pointers will hopefully ensure a successful project, that uses the technology to its full potential to provide rich insights.  I

Nanda Marchant – added insight ltd