Mobile is an inherent part of our lives today and it’s important for researchers to grasp how this medium can help us improve our research outcomes. That’s why, last month I attended the Merlien Institute conference MobileMR 2010: Market Research in the Mobile World conference in Berlin.
Some interesting examples of how it can enhance our research were presented including:
- Steve August and Ian Ralph showed how using mobiles for diary studies results in far more frequently and timely responses
- Siamick Salari, founder of Everyday Lives, spoke about using mobiles to collect and tag on the go multi-media ethnographic information
- Julie Gade gave a great case study using mobiles to get children/teenagers to share via photos what they eat. We know asking questions doesn’t always tell us what we need to know, and when it comes to teenagers – mobile is what they know. Furthermore, letting them have a role in storytelling can be a powerful tool. As Julie said, mobile reduces the gap between what people say and do.
But as Steve August from Revelation kindly reminded us mobile is a technology not a methodology; it’s just a medium for gathering information in a different way, which has its strengths and weaknesses, like all others.
During the conference there was lots of discussion on how to get people to participate in research using mobile phones. But to me, the same rules apply no matter what medium you use:
- make it interesting
- make it relevant
- make it easy and simple
And when it comes to motivating them we need to:
- Make it about them and their lives
- Share the results and let them see the results of others
- Not underestimate the importance of the social aspect
Ultimately, if you are considering including mobile as a medium for data collection you need to ensure there is a benefit for the participant (be it easier, interesting, social or just fun).