The clue is in the title. I’m purposely not referring to people who do Online Qual research as ‘respondents’ or ‘sample’. To do so would imply that they are somehow passive guinea pigs in an experiment. Instead, we need to respect them as individuals in order to inspire them to actively participate.
(CC Image courtesy of Matthias on Flickr)
1. Are they who we really need?
First and foremost we need people who will answer the objectives of the study. That means making sure the sample specifications are relevant to the commercial objectives behind the project. For example, if the project is about brand activation ideas we need people who have a relationship with the brand as well as those who don’t (but could). That will help us understand both hooks and barriers to engagement which is vital in any brand strategy.
2. Are they really who they say they are?
It’s essential to be confident that participants genuinely fit their claimed profile. Some say it is more difficult to judge this in online projects. My view is that if you’re using a trusted recruiter you can rely on them to get the right people. Liveminds Facebook recruitment enables them to find people based on real not reported behaviours, both from the 55 minutes a day they spend on average reading, commenting, watching and sharing on the site and also what they do on 10 million other websites.
3. Are they able to answer our questions?
It is vital that you have people who are in a position to do what’s required of them. This could mean that, for example, they are capable of taking mobile video (i.e. they have the technical ability to record and upload video as well as having the confidence and willingness to do so). These requirements must therefore be covered in the recruitment specifications. Also participants need to have the time available to complete the study (which obviously needs to be explained to them upfront so they know what they are agreeing to).
4. Are they willing to play nicely?
The last thing anyone needs in a qual research project is a rebel force who wants to derail the process or someone too lazy to complete what is asked of them. So weeding them out early can be productive. This can be done in online recruitment through an open-ended question. If someone takes the time and effort to complete it then they’re more likely to be the kind of self-motivated, constructive person you want in a study.
5. Will they have the aptitude to express themselves?
You also want to find people that are expressive by nature, both in terms of creativity and articulation. I’m not saying you need to find artists and poets but rather people who naturally want to express themselves and who have the ability to be creative. Creativity can be tested through ‘divergent thinking’ tasks. Try asking them how many functions they can think of for an arbitrary object. The more they come up with, the more creative they are likely to be.
If you make sure your approach to recruitment allows you to answer these five questions with a resounding ‘yes’ then your projects are more likely to achieve the levels of participation and strategic relevance that clients require.
If you’re interested in more tips on how to achieve online qual research excellence then please join us for the next Masterminds training session being held in Shoreditch, London. Email [email protected] for further details.
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