24 August 2017
Hints & Tips for Successful Online Communities
In my August 2015 Blog I shared some tips on achieving successful online community participation which we still find extremely relevant today. Fast forward 2 years and the popularity of MROC amongst our clients shows no sign of slowing down as this methodology continues to provide richer in-depth and more reflective insights compared to shorter term qualitative research techniques.
Our recruitment aim is always to involve committed, engaged participants and achieve high levels of quality project completion for our client.
With extensive experience gained from partnering and managing dozens of successful online communities, our THN Project Managers all agree that there are 2 KEY elements to achieving the most successful results for any community.
1. The All Important Preparation:
At the beginning of recruitment and in addition to the initial client briefing and “kick off” call prior to screener launch, a Discussion Guide is required to provide absolute clarity to all involved regarding the commitment required. This should include:
- A realistic description of the scope and time commitment per session, not assuming that every participant will have the same level of technical and online competence
- An up-front schedule of task completion dates/times so that respondents can better plan their commitment to the project
- A clear outline of the specific tasks - especially when there are multiple stages or sections within a single task set
- Full details regarding the subject matter of any photos or videos required
- Information about the incentive to be paid recognising the time commitment expected and any ‘spot’ payments/prizes which may be additionally awarded
- What tools and devices respondents will need in order to successfully participate and access the panel
- Provision of information regarding support available for any technical difficulties
2. The Technology:
While avoiding technical difficulties 100% of the time is more or less unachievable, the critical thing is to minimize the opportunity for these to occur at the communication stage. Anticipating any potential technical issues or problems caused by the interaction between the respondents using the platform can achive this.
Simple issues can easily be avoided by ensuring the correct time zones are recognised. On many occasions respondents have been unable to login to do their tasks because the platform has had an auto lockout on task completion that is set to American time!
Respondents who become frustrated by technical difficulties will often not give objective unbiased feedback and will ultimately drop out. So it is important that the respondents receive practical and clear instructions at the beginning covering:
- How to access the platform including any special requirements
- Any requirement to access or download any additional software; if so, information on file size and compatability with different devices e.g. PCs, Macs, mobiles and tablets)
- Clear simple instructions on how to upload file, photos and the videos to the platform
- Any Internet/WiFi connections required for platform access and/or file upload and download
- Details of the IT support which will be available during the community
Having this information at the ready has had proven results with great completion rates and happy, engaged respondents. Our THN team look forward to discussing your online community requirements with you and sharing our expertise to ensure the success of your next community!
For further information please contact:
Shelley Russell – Operations Manager – firstname.lastname@example.org