Activities in online user communities: advantages of scheduling forum or debate-type activities.

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We have already discussed in previous «Research Tips» the benefits of online consumer communities compared to other qualitative research techniques. 

One of those advantages is the flexibility that comes with the ability to schedule activities with different functionalities, allowing us to target various information objectives.

This time, we will focus on forum or debate-type activities. We will discuss the possibilities they offer and the types of objectives we can address with them.

WAT-Comunidades online actividades

Advantages of forum or debate-type activities

Easy communication with participants

First and foremost, it’s important to note that this type of activity (Forum or Debate) involves a very comfortable form of communication for the participants, as it operates similarly to direct messaging applications like WhatsApp or Telegram, which are already deeply integrated into current communication methods.

How do these types of activities work?

The moderator poses a question to the forum, and participants respond in writing with open-ended answers. Depth of discourse is sought. That’s why the question posed by the moderator should not be answerable with a simple «yes» or «no.»
The person serving as the moderator emphasizes and reminds participants to think deeply and provide detailed reasoning in their responses.

Resources for sharing content bidirectionally

In addition, this type of activity allows for the upload of photos, videos, or files bidirectionally. In other words, both the moderator and the informants can share multimedia files to illustrate a situation, show a point of contact they’ve had with a brand, or demonstrate how they actually use a particular product.

This means that consumers provide their impressions within the context of their real-life situations, rather than in a «laboratory» environment, such as a physical focus group, enabling researchers to access insights based on actual behaviors rather than the recollection of those behaviors.

Ability to adjust the level of interaction among participants

An important feature of this type of forum or debate activity is that the level of interaction among participants can be adjusted based on the information objectives pursued in each activity. 

Thus, different scenarios can occur:

  • Sometimes, it is of interest that informants and all participants see what they write and share with each other, so they can respond to each other, make comments, and thus enrich the debate.
  • Other times, it may be desired that the initial opinion or comment of each participant is not influenced by the contributions of others.
    In such cases, the activity can be scheduled so that informants do not see the contributions of other members until they have written at least one comment. This way, the initial opinion will not be «contaminated» by the opinions of others.
  • Even in some cases, it may be necessary for participants in a Forum or Debate activity not to have access to the contributions of the rest of the community (for example, in the case of sensitive topics that are unlikely to be freely discussed in front of third parties or when requesting the uploading of images with confidential information, such as a purchase receipt, an invoice, etc.)

 

In summary, forum or debate-type activities allow us to access consumer opinions quickly in an online environment where participants feel very comfortable, can participate through various means, and also allow us, as researchers, to impact them and obtain insights in moments of their daily lives.

Would you like to know what other types of activities you can schedule in your online consumer communities? Stay tuned for our Research Tips.

Update date 21 November, 2023

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