Engagement, effective activity design and software flexibility are key ingredients for longitudinal MROCs. Dub’s online qual and insight community software, IdeaStream, offers advanced features that have been helping researchers from all over the world run more than 1,000 successful communities with ease for over 6 years. In this article we will share with you 10 ways IdeaStream can help you run your longitudinal online insight community and keep your participants engaged.


1. Give Participants A Sense Of Ownership

Unlike short-term communities, longitudinal MROCs are more challenging when it comes to keeping respondents active. It is important to create a timeline with different research activities but you will also need ways to achieve higher engagement and keep respondents logging in, even after they have completed all activities for the specified time. A great way of motivating community members is to create additional discussions that don’t necessarily relate to the main research topic. Let participants start their own discussions and you will soon be able to identify the key members who will help your community thrive. IdeaStream’s Forums page is specially designed for communities that run over a longer period of time. This feature allows you and your participants to add discussions that members are passionate about which will keep them engaged and motivated throughout the duration of your project. Conversations can be about sport, music, food, hobbies or anything that respondents connect with.


2. Making Connections

Monetary incentives aren’t the only motivation for participants, especially when it comes to longitudinal communities. You will fuel respondents’ intrinsic motivation to be a part of your community if you let them build their own relationships and interact freely with each other.

This way respondents will give you deeper insights and your end clients will also see how customers are talking about their brand in a natural way. Having access to IdeaStream’s Members area makes it a lot easier for participants to interact and connect with each other. IdeaStream puts participants in a familiar social environment, allowing individual members to have their own profile pages and ‘follow’ each other. IdeaStream’s Members’space can help you build stronger inter-community relationships and engage participants in the long run.


3. Enable Content Feeds

Similar to Facebook’s status updates, IdeaStream’s Community Feed will significantly increase the levels of interaction and engagement within your long-term community, as it maintains the flow of discussion and socialises conversations for all to participate in. The Community Feed is an optional feature located on the community homepage. Respondents can post and reply to discussions and attach various media such as pictures, videos, MP3s and document files. This feature puts participants in a familiar social environment, where participants feel comfortable.


4. Offer Multi-Channel Engagement

With IdeaStream Mobile you can capture experiences ‘in the moment’ and follow your participants wherever they go, via a stream of photos, videos and comments. Connecting through a mobile device has become a natural behaviour for respondents, especially for the younger generation. Moreover, smartphone usage has reached 50% in UK, USA and Australia.

But communities don’t have to be limited to a single channel (be it desktop or mobile). With IdeaStream you can choose to run your community on both desktop and mobile. Online communities that aren’t limited to a single channel can give greater convenience for you and for your respondents.


5. Integrate with External Apps and Solutions the IdeaStream API

Often, longitudinal communities combine qualitative and quantitative activities. IdeaStream allows you to integrate sophisticated quant tools from third-party quant platforms and other creative solutions so that you can screen participants, run surveys or interviews and engage using a number of different tools.


6. Humanise And Be Yourself

When running a long-term community it is important that your participants are real people and want to know the purpose of your project, how they can help, who the community managers are etc. To get this information across, talk to them like you would a friend or acquaintance. Inject energy and enthusiasm into your voice and be clear as to why they are there and what’s expected of them.


IdeaStream allows you to add widgets that are built to improve participant experience and to add the ‘human touch’ to your community. They are usually located on the homepage of your community, where you can briefly introduce the project by adding a welcome message with a picture or even record a video of yourself , share moderators’ picture, description and contact details, show recent activities and so on.


7. Prompt Activity With Notifications

Notifications appear on the top of the screen and on any page of your IdeaStream project. This feature is important because it calls for action and ensures that your respondents know what is required of them as a minimum. Notifications include invitations to take part in new activities, probes from the Moderator and comments from other members of the community.


8. Create Pages of Sticky Content

IdeaStream offers you the flexibility to create a custom pages should you want to share more information and content from other sources with your participants. Use this feature to add, for example, community FAQs or a blog, or maybe provide rich biogs of your team or relevant news related to the topic of discussion. You don’t need coding skills to add a custom static page, it’s all handled within your Admin Ctr.


9. Customise Your Community’s Look And Feel

The latest version of IdeaStream makes interface customisation easier than ever. You don’t need design skills to customise the look and feel of your community to reflect the brand or the subject matter, just access to the right assets then off you go. Simply add your own background image, a custom header or logo and change the colours of the platform to match your organisations visual brand identity or create assets that reflect the subject matter.


10. Optimise Your Activity Design

Dub’s expert team can help you optimise your activity design for long-term communities to achieve the best possible engagement and response. With our help you will create engaging activities, develop a road map of objectives, achieve highest possible levels of participation, plan incentives and competitions and share knowledge to better equip you for your next community. You can rest assured that our experts have sound qualitative research background and the right skills and knowledge to help you extract most value from your long-term community.


We have now given you ten good reasons to choose IdeaStream for you next long-term community, making community engagement a top priority.


To find out more about how IdeaStream can help you build and run a successful longitudinal community that keeps participants engaged, contact anna@dubishere.com

Quote of the Day

We’ve just received a lovely quote from a moderator that has just completed an online study using our IdeaStream platform. Here words were…

“I thoroughly enjoyed it, and the platform is so easy it saves a heck of a lot of time, encourages the participants to work much harder, and makes the moderator’s job much easier”

Not sure what we can add to that, other than if you haven’t experienced our online research platforms for yourself, your missing out!

Get in touch with stephen@dubishere.com to find out more.

The Disinhibition Effect

It’s a given that within online qualitative research (blogs, video diaries, forums, chat, etc), researchers get the opportunity to hear consumers talk about their experiences and their feelings towards products brands and services, but is the dialogue ‘real’ enough?

John Suler’s ‘The Psychology of Cyberspace’ says:

It’s well known that people say and do things in cyberspace that they wouldn’t ordinarily say or do in the face-to-face world. They loosen up, feel more uninhibited, express themselves more openly. Researchers call this the “disinhibition effect.

Perhaps the pinnacle of any online research community or ad-hoc online qual study, however, is when, as a researcher, you get to sit back and hear consumers talk among themselves about brands, products and their experiences.

Why is this so powerful? Simply, it provides some of the most candid and unadulterated insight one will ever experience since, as far as the participant is concerned, neither the researcher nor the client (brand) is in the same room and, as John Suller says:

According to traditional Internet philosophy, everyone is an equal: Peers share ideas and resources. In fact, the net itself is engineered with no centralized control. As it grows, with a seemingly endless potential for creating new environments, many people see themselves as independent-minded explorers. This atmosphere and philosophy contribute to the minimizing of authority.”

These phenomenon and the platforms set a scenario where consumers can literally spew the good, the bad and the ugly without fear of reprisal, backlash or judgment and without the peer pressure associated with real physical presence. For the researcher and the client, it provides an opportunity to hear first-hand the language and experience the passion and gusto consumers use to share their points of view. It delivers truths that are hard to come by elsewhere, in such fashion.

If you’re asking yourself what online research communities can do for you, this should be somewhere near the top of the list.

Why Localisation Matters to Online Research

flags-globeAt Dub, we provide local moderators who’s role it is to look after the health of your online research community. Part of their role is also to localise the study design for their particular market.

Localising the study design matters greatly, for the reasons that follow;

To ensure that respondents are familiar with the terms and labels used throughout the discussion guides. Often, making a direct translation from a master document (in English) can lead to the terms having little or no meaning for participants. Fro example, we recently conducted a project about data privacy, but it was deemed that this term meant little when translated for the Asian market, so the resulting term that was adopted was Protection of Personal Information.

To attain the appropriate level of formality. In some markets around the world, formality will reduce the level of creativity in response, while other markets are more comfortable with a relaxed, casual style (such as Asian and South American markets)

Tone of Voice
When conversing with certain markets, politeness is key to ensuring participation. This is different to formality, as you can be be casual and formal, and polite at the same time.

Equally, localisation can greatly help the flow of discussion and richness of response when handled correctly. Here are some handy hints and tips to follow;

  1. Ensure that questions are not ambiguous or more than two questions are combined into one, and adjust the wording of questions to ensure answers are relevant and on-topic. This helps avoid unclear or irrelevant responses.
  2. Ensure sequence of questions makes it easy for respondents to follow the progressing discussion and learn more about the topic and what is expected of them in the process. This reduces the likelihood of ‘don’t know’ answers.
  3. Adjust the style of questions to local communication preferences. For example, Japanese respondents value harmony and dislike voicing a different opinion, and are less used to analytical thinking and open debate.

An Online Research Moderator’s best friend

notesWe’re extremely proud of all of the online research technology that we’ve developed over the years. It facilitates a more creative online research experience for both respondent and researcher. One of the most effective and much heralded tools that we’ve integrated, however, is also the simplest and easiest to use (hence our pride in it!). It’s called Notes. The simplest way to describe it is like Delicious for researchers.

Notes, allows researchers and admins to annotate, share and discover respondent-generated content. As an online research project progresses, researchers and admins can add notes to the most valuable content they see, so they can return to and/or share their thoughts and ideas with others, with ease.

Researchers and admins also create meta-databases with Notes. These generate tag clouds that help uncover trending topics. Researchers can also add notes-to-self, helping to remind them about the best content they have seen.

Our clients tell us that they love Notes, not just because of its ease-of-use, but because it saves them time at the end of projects when they need to review the content for analysis. Online research (including communities, MROCs) can produce a vast amount of data, so it’s important to create mechanisms that allow researchers to organise, search and filter content. Notes fulfils this and more by removing the need for your project’s Senior Analyst having to sequentially review all the data shared.

If you’d like to know more about how Notes can improve your online research, contact Stephen Cribbett, stephen@dubishere.com

When blog comments go wrong

Comments (of sorts!)Engadget, one of the leading gadget blogs on the internet, recently decided to turn off commenting on articles. Their claim is that in in recent days commenting has got ‘out of hand’, with a few people creating an environment that they feel is ‘ugly, pointless and threatening’.

It’s a bold move, and one I suspect they did not take lightly. By their own admission, and inline with the oft cited 1% rule, only a small percentage of their readership comment. However, the feature is considered one of the basic tenants of social media – allowing motivated readers to become part of the debate. Indeed, it’s features like commenting, along with the low barriers to entry, ability to syndicate across multiple platforms/channels, etc. that have helped the format grow to the size, variety and popularity it has today.

Benefits aside monitoring comments, filtering out the spam and ensuring abuse is kept at bay can be a difficult process. Blog authors have options, which include:

  • Moderation – before a comment is displayed online, it must be ‘cleared’ by a site administer, ensuring no detrimental posts get through. However, this can take away the immediate gratification users have come to expect and cause commentors to feel they’re being censored. Such a process also becomes unfeasible for a site that is as popular (and has such a high number of generated comments) as Engadget.
  • Spam filters – Great for some removing the ‘v1Agra’ type of spam message we have all come to despise, but limited when it comes to deciding if a well composed comment is inappropriate
  • Community-managed voting – only displays comments that have been given a positive vote by readers. Very ‘hands-off’ for site owners, but requires an extra level of interaction from users
  • Register to vote - Great for blogs with a small following – e.g. personal holiday blogs, but becomes difficult to track with large and manage with large user base. Equally, as user names and passwords are required each time, barriers to entry for commenting (especially for casual commentors) become very high
  • Threading - this allows people to comment on comments. It doesn’t stop spam comments, but it does conversations to diverge. Sites like Slashdot take this approach to the extreme, allowing unlimited ‘threading’. The side effect is that this can quickly become confusing to the casual observer. Limited threading is a useful

Our advise at Dub is to try and take maximum advantage of the medium and be as open to viewer comments as possible. As you can see, there are a myriad approaches to helping mange comments. Unfortunately, for some publishers all the options in the world can’t stop the trolls and spammers of this world.

Read Engadget’s full statement here