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We are keen to share some feedback on a MOA meeting we recently attended in Amsterdam about new practices in qualitative research using social media. For those who are not familiar with MOA, it is the Center for Information Based Decision Making & Marketing Research.
Why would qualitative researchers want to move away from ‘traditional’ research into more contextual and observational research in the first place?
According to Kees van Duyn (Firefish) and Maurice Palmen decision-making is highly influenced by psychological and behavioral variables. We humans are lazy and prefer intuitive decision-making to mental exertion. So-called system1-thinking (intuitive thinking) is mainly influenced by habits, social and cultural norms, bias, the state we are in, and so on. System2-thinking or rational thinking is a slower and more tiring process in which we reason and assess long term effects.
What is the impact of this theory on research?
Considering the effect of context and environment on decision-making, research should:
Among the techniques used for observational research are eye-tracking, questionnaires through mobile apps, community platforms, 360° cameras and more.
From theory to practice 1
Laura Jager from Ipsos gave an example of how smartphones can be used in qualitative research since many of us can’t seem to live without them. She explained the different steps in a mobile project, from entering questions in an application and recruiting respondents to viewing responses in real time and the ability to interact with respondents. Such a mobile project would typically be followed by traditional in-depth interviews.
Beware! Respondents must know exactly what is expected from them, questions should be short and straightforward, and limit the questions to the essentials (contextual info).
From theory to practice 2
Marit Klooster from Ruigrok explained how online communities allow a researcher to group people around a specific topic and to follow them over a long period of time. Setting up an online community mostly requires an online quantitative survey to determine who might be interested in joining the community, upon which participants are selected. ‘Assignments’ can be given to individuals as well as to the community as a whole. The last step would be a face-to-face interview, either one-on-one or in-group.
Beware! Topics should be determined clearly before the start, yet can grow ‘organically’ as time passes. Regular participation from the community is crucial, yet 100% involvement is impossible. Get what you can from the participants (allow them to start their own discussion topics for instance) but don’t forget to give something back (information, articles, interesting links, …).
Top tips from an expert
Ellen de Lange-Ros from Faxion shared some interesting tips on how to use social media to attract customers. It’s all about staying true to yourself and focusing on your fans, those who are highly satisfied with what you have on offer. Growing a strong fan base is not easy peasy. You need to build awareness, get followers, turn followers into fans, turn fans into customers and tap into their needs and wants for more involvement and a stronger relationship. And never forget: social media cannot compensate for a bad product and they are not stand-alone tools.