November 24th, 2010
CSIRO is currently creating technology that could one day assist market researchers in dealing with self-report bias. In a nutshell, CSIRO is designing software that allows computers to accurately identify human emotions in facial expressions, even micro-expressions (which may only be present for 1/15 of a second on the participant’s face). Already the software shows potential with its accuracy, and as technology advances, it can only become more precise.
Humans are very skilled at recognising facial expressions; we do it subconsciously in every interaction we have. At the same time, we send out our own signals to others – whether intentional or involuntary. It is the involuntary expressions that may be of most interest to the market research industry.
Machines detecting even the slightest expression may help relieve doubts of self-report bias (social desirability, a tendency to agree, leniency or harshness etc.). Another approach to add to the industry toolbox, keep an eye on this!
November 19th, 2010
Generally at some point during an online community we ask the members to complete a ‘mission’ of some sort. Now these are usually fairly mundane to the casual observer, and members only get reimbursed for their outlay.
So I was thinking, hmmmm, can’t really imagine how many are actually going to bother. In today’s world isn’t it all about how much you can get for the least amount of effort? Well, at least it feels that way sometimes.
But not only did they ‘choose to accept’ their mission, but they did it with a gusto and a sense of fun and adventure that both surprised and delighted me. In fact I found myself laughing out loud repeatedly reading their ‘post mission reports’.
Their mission? Very benign. To buy a drink from a convenience store and take a photo of the display if they can. Look at ‘em go!
I have never had people in a focus group get so clearly involved and have so much fun participating in research. I can only think then that it’s the online space that has enabled members to free their inner secret agents! I can’t wait until the next one.
November 12th, 2010
It has been a pretty hectic first month for me at Latitude Insights but what a blast it’s been. Already immersed in two very different communities it’s been great to learn and understand the various methods that make managing a community such a rewarding and valuable experience, not just for me but for our clients and members as well.
I have an online research background, so the idea of communicating with people via the Internet wasn’t new to me and is something I find very interesting. There is definitely a certain skill required to get the most out of people with whom you have no actual direct contact with but as people become more and more online savvy, the less noticeable the gap between online and offline communications continues to become. You may miss out on seeing how people express themselves physically but online I find that people are much more inclined to open up to you with information they may not usually share in a face to face environment.
Online communities evolve and run like any other community. There are leaders, there are followers and a mesh of relationships will build with time. What surprises me is just how quickly this happens. After the initial login, members introduce themselves and find common ground, as you would when you meet someone for the first time in real life. As a moderator, it’s a matter of using and nurturing these relationships in order to get participants talking with each other and also with me. Before long members are discussing and posting topics of their own such is the comfort that they have sharing information in the community. Communicating online is now no longer seen as scary or the domain of the IT geeks and as a result people are so much more comfortable engaging with others and meeting new friends. They help each other, they celebrate each other’s achievements and support each other through troubled times, just like a real community.
As a moderator I’ve learned that in the end I have to keep order but still don’t want to be the ‘tough guy’ who isn’t seen to have fun or have a personality and can be someone who members will want to chat and share their experiences with. How can I expect everyone in the community to share themselves if I’m not doing it myself?
I was used conducting focus groups with up to 8 participants at a time so have had to adjust to communities of over 100 running over a much longer time period. Sure, not everyone is talking at the same time but it really is great to see a larger group dynamic evolve to include me but also the experience of friendships grow and build.
Like the communities, I’m looking forward to growing and building upon my experience as time goes on.
November 4th, 2010
The notion of the ‘virtual self’ is gaining momentum as more people take to creating an online personality. Whether people join social networks, game in virtual worlds or post on YouTube, the projection of ‘self’ into the digital space is a first for the human condition – hence the fascination of psychologists, sociologists and marketers alike.
But what compels us to form, build and maintain relationships with people we may not even know in the offline world? I believe it is largely the same reason we choose SMS over a phone call, an ATM over a teller and a community over a focus group. Control. Online we can minimalise the ‘not so nice’ side of interaction – embarrassment, judgment, confusion, and miscommunication. People have a certain degree of anonymity and influence over their engagement with others.
For researchers, Insights Communities provide the platform to allow people to express freely, minus the friction that can occur in real world interaction. However, as Community Mangers, we are often asked whether our samples are skewed towards those more technologically inclined. The answer is no. For most members, this is the first time that they have participated in an online network. It is not the technology that drives participants to online communities (or any social network), rather, it is the fundamental human instinct to express, create, and identify with each other. The ‘virtual self’ is another means in which to fulfill this need.