The Transformation Of Online Insight Communities

Since their inception in 2005, online communities have continually adapted against a landscape of technological, economic, and social change.

Today, political and economic uncertainties present the research industry with new challenges, but we remain confident that online communities have a bright future if they can continue to bring the consumer voice to the heart of organisational decision-making.

To achieve this, online communities need to retain two key ingredients of their success: an opted-in sample of well profiled and engaged people, and a retainer contract with the client which the agency supports with a dedicated account team. But communities also need to step up their game in terms of giving clients access to a much wider range of methodologies and tools in order to take advantage of the new waves of technology and social change. At Join the Dots | InSites Consulting, we’re achieving this in three distinct ways: by asking better questions, listening to organic online conversations, and observing people’s behaviour, often in combination on a single brief. Here are some examples:
Ask. Asking questions is the bread and butter of our industry, but we need to change how we ask questions of the digital generation, by integrating contemporary research techniques that mimic how people interact in a non-research world. While long-form question types like diaries and discussions play an important role in insight generation, new tools like chatbots deliver a fun, fast, and familiar interface, with additional AI features allowing for real-time, intelligent prompts and response. We ask people to swipe, tweet, and communicate in emoji, affording higher levels of participation and insight than ever before. These new asking techniques turn the mundane into the magical…

Listen. The tools and outputs of digital listening have now come of age. Our own social intelligence approach combines organic social data with primary research and cultural context. This enables us to capture organic conversations at scale, to explore further and validate using primary, and to understand the bigger picture using our cultural contextual techniques. ‘Qual at quant scale’ is the new mantra. When traditional ‘asking’ techniques alone don’t suffice, adding social data into the mix helps us to understand people better than they understand themselves…

Observe. Now more than ever before we have both the ability and the need to observe human behaviour to help answer those more immersive, strategic briefs. Video-based research captures insights that asking questions alone cannot. It also provides clients with impactful, undeniable evidence of authentic consumer behaviour and enables them to activate the insights…

Online communities are the ideal research vehicle to embrace the new methods, thinking, and technology that are being invested into the research industry. They provide clients with flexible, immediate access to an interested and interesting network of consumers who are eager to share their opinions.

With clients under more pressure than ever to deliver faster, high-quality insights within increasingly tight budgets and resources, communities are ideally placed to deliver this ‘holy trinity of research’. And by embracing a wider variety of methods, communities can drive even greater value in helping clients to understand people. •

By Maria Spinelli, Head of Asia, Join the Dots I InSites Consulting