Is it an MROC or isn’t it? If it isn’t, then what is it? I recently came across a blog by Robert Bain ‘Between an MROC and a hard place’, quoting comments made by Mike Hall (Verve) who said the term MROC was ‘rubbish’. Mike Hall espouses that MROCs are not research communities. He says that by having a community and only using it for research doesn’t make it a ‘research community’. Hmm, I wonder, what does that make it then?
Here at Latitude Insights we specialize in online research communities (in fact we wholeheartedly embrace them). These communities are online communities (private and usually branded) and they are used for research purposes. So, for us, that makes them online research communities.
But really, what I find most interesting is how much time and effort is spent debating the semantics of a name rather than meaningful discussion such as the merits of these online research communities (gosh, does that make them an ORC, I thought that was a fantasy warrior type thing?), and in fact social media as a whole.
Talking to consumers using a platform they are now increasingly using and comfortable with not only makes sense, it’s a must. As the latest Nielsen Online data indicates, time spent on social networking sites (such as Facebook and Twitter) is increasing at a huge rate. And that’s not going to stop any time soon. Interestingly, Australia is leading the way in terms of average time spent on these sites. On average, we Australians spent almost 7 hours on social networking sites in December 2009.
So any discussion needs to create an understanding of online research communities – the way they work and how effective they are. Recruitment, size, management and, importantly, gathering insights and communicating them would perhaps be more pertinent than whether these communities are called MROCs or trying to prove they are ‘not research communities’.