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6 Steps to building a successful research community

In previous blog posts we’ve taken a look at tactical aspects of running a community such as Moderation and Community Management, and how to garner structured collaboration. With a well designed and run research community you can do more research, get more depth of understanding from your customers or target consumers, and gain insights quicker.
Successful Research Community - Online communities
Here are six key elements of any research community strategy that you should compile before embarking on your journey. Sure, we know there are many more steps, but these are perhaps the six most critical ones to do before you get started in earnest:
1. Define the community’s goals
This is what the organisation or brand that have commissioned the research community want to achieve from it. Example goals might include behavioural insight, concept co-creation, crowdsourcing new ideas or simply gathering feedback on existing products and services.
The goal of your online qualitative research community will propel you in a clear direction and enable you to start thinking about the strategy and tactics you employ to achieve the engagement you need.
2. Identify the behaviour you want from your participants
These are the research community’s objectives and are what you need participants to do in order to achieve its goals. For example, if your goal is to identify an opportunity space for a new product, then the objective might be to have your participants share their latent needs or frustrations with current products they use. This can be done by creating daily diaries and show-arounds.
3. Design motivations
By this point you’ve identified the behaviours you want from participants. Now you need to think carefully about how you will motivate these behaviours. Always balance intrinsic and extrinsic motivations, the former being things like cash and prize drawers, whilst the latter could include the ability to hangout with like-minded people, learning from others, learning about yourself etc.
A previous article we released also talks more about the balance of intrinsic and extrinsic motivational factors. 
The motivational factors employed will create the emotional bond within the community, which is essential in driving ongoing participation and good engagement.
4. Think tactics
Your tactics are the steps you’ll take to heighten the emotions that are driving engagement. As the moderator or community manager, this requires you to define how your time will be used, the communication style you employ and the psychological hacks you’ll use to deepen the connection with your participants.
We ran a webinar previously on psychological hacks, the deck for which you can see here.
5. Determine your recruitment channel
Depending on which audience you want to research, you have a number of optional recruitment resources for a research community. Typically these include:
  • Qualitative recruitment (sometimes called free-finding)
  • Panels (Access & Custom Panels)
  • Email lists
  • Social Media
  • Web and in-store intercepts
You'll need to decide on which is relevant to finding the right people for your research. For example, you might need to source mainstream consumers or early adopters. As you can imagine, they won't both be found in the same place, so make sure your approach is relevant and delivers the right people. Don't just attempt to make up the numbers and achieve budget, you risk recruiting the wrong people which in turn will lead to you collecting the wrong data and making the wrong decisions.
6. Plan your time (for success)
The time, effort and skill you put into building a successful community, whether it’s short or long-term, is tantamount to its success. If you don’t dedicate the time and do the planning, you’re setting yourself up for a fall. Communities need life breathing into them in order for you to capture the data and insight you need to make those big decisions.
Research community success is measurable, quantifiable, so when defining the above always think about how you are going to measure it. This in turn help you know that you’re getting better at it each and every time. 

Download our popular 'Research Community Engagement Guide' below.

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