Archive for the ‘Panel Research 08’ Category.

How the market research industry should embrace communities

I was speaking on the Future of the Industry at the ESOMAR Panel Research 08 conference in Dublin last week, an international market research conference. Over the two days of the conference, a lot was said about social media and online communities (see previous posts on lessons we can learn from the team at MomConnection). Speaking in the last session on the last day is always more difficult, and I wanted to leave the people at the conference with something to think about. So I spoke about two issues we have seen develop FreshNetworks.

Firstly I spoke about how online communities, and more importantly the ability for consumers and brands to talk directly with each other using social media, is changing the client-agency relationship in research and other marketing services. Whereas previous agencies played the role of standing between the consumer and the brand (or the client and respondent in market research terms), now their role is more to facilitate these two groups interacting directly with each other. This sounds like an easy change but really it isn’t. It shifts both the role of the agency (from intermediary and translator to facilitator and advisor) and it throws up it’s own problems. In the research industry, for example, the agency, standing between brand and consumer, has an important role to play ensuring that any research is conducted in an honest manner, designed and carried out to make sure that the results are meaningful and that business decisions can be made on them. With the role of the agency and client changing, there is a need to change processes and techniques. The first step is to recognise that the role has changed.

Secondly, and building on this I showed that whilst we’ve had online research communities for some time, to date they have typically been used as new ways of doing old things. Today, with the significant shift-change in the use of social media for customer engagement, online communities can now do completely new things. We are seeing more and more organisations building online communities as a way to engage with clients. Indeed just a few weeks ago a report from Gartner predicted such communities at more than 60% of large US firms by 2010. The challenge for the market research industry here is that, with so many communities being built and so many firms building them, they may lose the initiative. Communities are a brilliant source of insight (either planned and managed or insight through UGC). Organisations will begin to rely more and more on these tools as sources of insight and research, whether or not the community has been built or managed by a research firm.

So it was a bit of a “if we don’t do it somebody else will” speech. A sentiment that really does apply to the market research industry today.

I wrote a paper for ESOMAR on this and if you’re really keen it’s available here (or just ask me if you want to chat about it).

  • What Does The Agency Of The Future Look Like To You?
  • What CMOs Want from an Agency
  • ‘Generation V’ Defies Traditional Demographics

Subscribe to updates from this blog

Online research community lessons from MomConnection

I’m at the ESOMAR Panel Research 08 conference in Dublin for a couple of days. Tomorrow I present a paper on the future of the market research industry, talking about how online research communities are changing the agency-client relationship. Today I get to listen to the other speakers, talking on subjects from data quality to online communities. The latter sessions were obviously of most interest to me.

One of the communities discussed was MomConnection, a US site run by Parenting and babytalk. I hadn’t come across this site before, but it seems to be like Netmums here in the UK, except that rather than being an online community of mums it is a specific online research community.

The site has been running for five years now and in part of their presentation they highlighted ten insights they have learnt from running the site:

  1. Right size, don’t supersize - the team from MomConnection keep a community of 5,000 people and say that anything larger would be of less use from a research perspective
  2. Protect the sponsor and the brand - when you’re building a branded online community it is important that you recognise and act as a brand ambassador
  3. It never gets cheaper - the team claim that the need to constantly innovate and develop the site mean that there will always be a cost involved with running and improving the community
  4. It never takes less time - the MomConnection team do a series of monthly, quarterly, semi-annually and annually activities to maintain the community and membership
  5. Encourage shared ownership - the team talked about shared ownership between the client and agency
  6. Respect your panel [sic] - they engage in direct contact with members and have named individuals dealing with them
  7. A real community isn’t in it for the money - if you build a real community you won’t need to incentivise them to take part
  8. Make the most on evolving needs to innovate - listen to the ideas of community members and the client on how to evolve the community
  9. Stay focused on the client’s goals - make sure they get out what they want but also that they make the most of the community
  10. Speed breeds success - the online research community format is built for quick turnaround research and so build tools and processes to support this

What are your thoughts on these as the ten main lessons for online research communities. I’m looking forward to debating them with the rest of the team at FreshNetworks when I’m back in the office, but reflecting on them today I think there are areas I would expand on. The ‘never gets cheaper’ and ‘never takes less time’ may be true but from our experience, although there may always be a cost and time  invovled in managing the community this does not have to increase proportionately to the increased size of the community. If you get things right at the start you can scale the community with a relatively decreasing cost per member. I also agree with the need to encourage shared ownership, but we would rephrase this, saying the community owns the community and so the client needs to be part of that to make the most of it.

Anyway - more on some of these things in my presentation tomorrow. I’ll right about it afterwards.

  • Building Online Communities
  • Reaping customer insight from user-generated content
  • Adopting Web 2.0 in Organisations
  • Building Successful Online Communities

Subscribe to updates from this blog