Market Research Online Communities (MROCs) are growing in popularity. And why not? They are versatile and allow for longer and deeper relationships with participants, giving researchers a glimpse into their lives and homes. But not every MROC rocks. These five simple steps from our London Managing Director, Job Muscroft, will help ensure that your MROC does.
You can also view Face’s MROCs to see how we do it.
1) Have a Purpose
The best things in life and research start with a clear goal. To get your MROC off to the best possible start you need to be clear about what its role is in your organisation. Is it a rapid response test and learn environment where scale and data are key? Or a more creative place where collaboration and strategic thinking is required? Or both? A clear purpose will help you brief and select the right platform, sample and research partner to work with.
2) Give it an identity
We all need brands to help us navigate the world and the same is true within organisations and communities. Giving your MROC an identity will help to communicate its role within the company and will increase the likelihood of stakeholders engaging with it and crucially briefing the right kinds of projects. For community members it is even more important that they feel they have joined something they want to engage with for reasons beyond the transactional nature of the incentive. In short the right branding will help you gain the right buy in to the community.
3) Mix it up
When you are up and running with the community you must avoid the cardinal sin of taking the people on your community for granted. After the initial excitement of getting it launched this is easy to do – and it is also easy for people in your community to do the same and disengage if they are not stimulated. So how do you keep them engaged? Make sure you post regular missions is the first step – but don’t simply send them surveys, get them to take part in more reflective and creative tasks too. Members can bring their lives and ideas to you by uploading video diaries & images, sending SMS updates in real-time, or generating and rating ideas in forum threads. The key to keeping people engaged is to mix up the types of tasks and make it fun.
4) Bring it to life
The success of any research is judged by the value of the data and the strategic analysis that is provided to help clients make better decisions. This can sometimes be forgotten in the case of community research. Simply having access to a community is not enough for most organisations; stakeholders are busy people and need simple ways of engaging with projects and their findings. Visualising data via a dashboard is a start, then getting clients into online groups and engaged in tasks really helps too. In reality it is crucial to produce regular easy-to-digest bulletins and nothing beats a great debrief to grab attention and share the value that MROC can produce. Research findings from MROC needs to be brought to life like any other research project if it is to gain traction in an organisation.
People join MROC as they feel that companies want to listen to them and make their products and services better. It is crucial that this expectation is match by the experience members have when taking part in research. This makes the role of your MROC community manager very important indeed. The community manager should set the tone of the community by being very open and responsive. Dealing with questions and issues quickly and in a friendly style that builds trust and collaboration in the community. The Community managers’ job is made easier if clients are able to share some of the results or actions that result from MROC projects.
A commitment to giving quick, friendly and open feedback builds trust and leads to deeper relationship that will reduce churn and increase the quality and levels of engagement in MROC projects.
View our online communities here, or for more information here’s a guide to online community research that we presented at the University of Oxford Said Business School: