This is the usual response I get when I explain what I do for a living.
So why has online qual not taken off? Unless you’re in the industry, it seems nobody quite knows what it actually is. From initial client contact, to recruiting participants, half the battle is describing how a community works.
When I first started working at Latitude Insights (and I must admit, at the time my knowledge of online communities was very vague) I was astounded by the dedication of the members in the community. Most participate enthusiastically, going far beyond our expectations of them. I hadn’t realised how interactive a community could be.
The common misconception is that research communities are just focus groups online.
However, unlike focus groups or bulletin boards, communities open up continuous dialogue within a social context. In the online space consumers truly want to talk to your brand and invite you into their world. This is where the potential lies.
It is still early days for online research communities, and like with any new medium, we haven’t even scratched the surface of what we could do. In the meantime, it might help if we spread the word to those outside of research circles. I think online qual deserves a little more than ‘huh?’