What sort of question is that?

What sort of question is that?

What’s your most embarrassing moment that makes you squirm and that you’d hate to share? What, you don’t want to answer? You’re trying to evade my question? Why?

As a qual researcher we often have to find ways of going beyond direct questions. We have to find subtle ways to ‘tease’ out the information we need. This opens up the opportunity for ‘unearthing’ different responses than would be gained through simply asking a direct question.

As we all know, in ‘traditional’ qual there’s a number of strategies to do this, and some of them are about getting people to ‘do’ things rather than simply talking to them about the topic.  Projective techniques, sentence completion, brand party, product reviews, sampling, missions, are but a few.

With online research communities these same techniques and strategies apply. Sometimes we may adapt them, sometimes it’s a straight forward exchange from the ‘round table’ to the online environment.  Chatting with community members is not dissimilar to chatting with focus group attendees. Sometimes you need to go in softly, tip toe around, and see what is naturally volunteered. And in some cases you can jump straight in and get to the point.

I guess the reminder for us all is to be creative….don’t just ask.

Here are a couple of different examples to inspire you:

  • Ask members to create an ‘online dating’ profile for a brand.  What do they highlight to ‘attract’?  What do they gloss over and / or omit from the profile?
  • Imagine Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn are trapped on a leaky boat.  There is no reception where they are and only  two lifejackets can be found,  – which would you hope survives?

photo credit:susy ♥ via photopin cc

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