It’s almost been a year since I started working with insights communities and I have learnt that they are filled with constant surprises. If you had asked me last September, what I expected from a role of an insights community moderator, I would have summed up, “To facilitate focus groups…online”. So a year later, what do I have to add?
Today I would say that a community moderator is more than just a facilitator. We spend months with participants in a community – I’ve even had a member describe the community as his “second family”. This is not unexpected; given that everyday we are invited into the lives of members. We travel their paths through pregnancies, holidays, graduations, and even funerals. The role of moderator is stretched to confidante, advisor, watchdog, IT tech, storyteller, leader, pupil, events organiser, cheerleader, and friend.
So, walking the thin line between the professional and personal, how does this tie in with our research? How do we remain objective, whilst we are subjective to the trials and tribulations of our members? I believe we don’t. Through the lens of familiarity, we grasp a deeper understanding of where members are coming from. Communities provide an environment to harness relationships, and this is a unique opportunity for qualitative research.
In the last year I have learnt how to be a better moderator by getting to know members. I have learnt how to be a better researcher by analysing data within a broader context. I look forward to the next 365 days of communities, and welcome whatever twists and turns they may bring…