Driving for insights within Online Research Communities is only possible through the ongoing participation of our respondents. As part of our continuous improvement here at MarketVision Research, we conducted research with our community members to learn what drives their participation in Online Communities. Through this research, we discovered some key themes about the “why” behind research participation and how to make the experience more enjoyable for members.
Make it Easy
The foundation of online research is a user-friendly website. Community members describe MarketVision’s platform as “intuitive” and “organized,” with 94% of members stating it is easy to navigate. Members can effortlessly find what they need to do, how to participate, and update their personal information and preferences. Making the technology portion of Online Communities intuitive means members and Community Managers can focus on the research itself.
Online community sites also need to be mobile-friendly. Giving members the ability to participate in research anywhere at any time allows us to be more ‘in the moment’ with them.
Make it Fun
Community Managers continually engage members, keeping them participating for days, weeks, months, and occasionally years. Most members report wanting variety in the types of research activities offered, which requires Community Managers to get creative. For example, while nearly all community members enjoy taking surveys, about 9 in 10 also want to participate in discussions to engage with other members. Photo uploads, collages, and live chats are also appealing for similar reasons – a break from the ‘norm’ can feel more exciting and gratifying than standard research prompts.
For researchers and end users, this is a win-win: community members are engaged and the insights are richer with the combination of qualitative and quantitative methodologies.
Make it Meaningful
While 40% of members report they are primarily motivated to participate in Online Community research for the financial compensation, many are also looking to be a part of something greater - for themselves and for others. They enjoy sharing their opinions, learning about new topics, and want to feel like they are making a difference.
Members are more satisfied and more likely to recommend Online Research Communities to their peers when they have a genuine interest in the topic. While topics such as ‘pet care’ are more relatable and interesting for the general consumer (who doesn’t like talking about their fur babies?), Online Communities make it easy for a variety of industries to provide engaging content for their participants. Business and/or medical professionals who share similar skill sets find purpose in sharing their experiences, expertise, reading other members’ responses, and using what they’ve learned to make better business or medical decisions.
Engaging online community members is especially important (and insightful) for healthcare and pharmaceutical clients. Patients and caregivers, particularly those who have been diagnosed with a disease or illness, find support and comfort through other community members who face similar struggles. In some cases, just having a Community Manager who listens and acknowledges their stories is reassuring. Anonymous discussion boards allow patients and caregivers to be vulnerable in ways they can’t always be in their everyday lives.
At MarketVision, we are constantly improving our community platform and our methods for engaging members. We will continue to conduct more research with our community members to ensure we are meeting our members’ and clients’ needs. While our clients are always looking to learn something new from research, sometimes our community members are too. 1
1 Results based on MarketVIsion internal research conducted within 17 online communities and n=4651 members. Research activities were quantitative and qualitative.
About the Authors:
Kyra Hayes is a Research Manager with MarketVision Research
Abigail Miller is a Research Director with MarketVision Research