It really won’t hurt as much as you think! Nor will it be as bad as you think!
As qual researchers we generally like to keep control. Heaven forbid that our ‘respondents’ would have any control. Oh no!
It’s up to us to ask the questions, not them! And then we tell our clients the answers. Simple.
But what about if we tried a different way? A way where ‘participants’ can ask questions, talk about things that matter to them, as well as discussing things we’d like to talk about. In this scenario we get to hear how they really communicate, what’s important to them and in their lives. We get the context behind the things we want to know on behalf of our clients.
This is where online research communities (MROCs), or insight communities as we like to call them, are so exciting. These communities are less structured than traditional qual methods. In an online community members can upload photos, videos, discussions. They can customize their page to make it look the way they want. They can choose what to be involved in within the community. In effect, the participants, or members as we call them, are in control.
And it is through giving over control that creates a process of discovery, allowing the unexpected insights to ‘pop up’ like young shoots growing in springtime. These are the real ‘gems’ we are after. Not the ‘ho hum’ bits that we already mostly know because we’ve asked the question before (albeit in slightly different ways).
So, here’s the challenge. Can you take the leap and let go? You never know what you might find on the ‘other side’.
Certainly you will get deeper, richer insights.