Friday, 24 July 2015

LinkedIn & WhatThen?

For whatever, I’m sure, deeply psychological reason, I embraced the social media age a number of years ago. So I’m an active Facebooker and I tweet, therefore I am. I’m also LinkedIn and have linked with a wide range of colleagues, ex-colleagues, clients, ex-clients, suppliers, potential suppliers, friends, potential friends, you know the kind of mix.

When I think about these three ways of ‘communicating’, however, it’s LinkedIn that leaves me more confused than the other two. Facebook keeps me in touch, and has put me in touch with a wide range of current and past friends and connections. Through Twitter I’ve engaged with a few ‘famous’ people and exchanged pats on the back with clients and the like.
But how does one ‘connect’ with those one connects with on LinkedIn?
I get the general idea – make links and you’ll end up just one link away from Sir Richard Branson – a number of people seem to have that ambition.
But what about the actual connections you make – WhatThen?
I’ve connected with a few new people lately so now they’re ‘in my gang’ but what happens next? Do I give them a ring and welcome them in? Do I send them an email and say, hey, thanks for linking? Or do I just let them sit in the gang with the rest of my gang members, seeing my occasional foray into the LinkedIn world, maybe even commenting on the odd post I might offer?
As I say, I get the idea, I’ve heard LinkedIn’s great if you’re looking for a job, for example – but I’m not looking for a job. So what am I looking for?
In essence, and when I look at my current LinkedIn connections, the main thing these people have in common is that they’re not just linked with me, they’re liked by me – maybe I should patent LikedIn?
So I have liked dealing with them, I like the idea of dealing with them again. But is it enough to sit there linking and liking? Or should I be ‘working the room’ in a more active way?
I have no answers to these questions, I’ve Googled, I’ve Wikied, I’ve Siried even, no-one and nothing seems to know.
We link, our gang gets bigger, we measure out our lives in LinkedIn connections.
Does anyone out there have any answers? I’d be grateful for some feedback…maybe we could link in?!

Thursday, 12 March 2015

Well there’s your traditional qual, and then there’s your online…

I attended the BIG/ICG Northern Forum last night, an excellent evening hosted by Acumen and the Fuller Research Group. The theme was online qualitative research and I tweeted in advance that I thought it might change my life. On reflection, I think it might well have the potential to do just that.
You see online qualitative research these days is not necessarily about running group discussions online. As it happens the person presenting to us is clearly not a big fan of this particular methodology.
No, it turns out modern day online qual is more about encouraging participants to express themselves in any and every way in which the internet can facilitate.
So it’s send us a diary of your past week using your new slow-cooker. Send us a picture of your house and your partner so we can fit that into the context section of our presentation. Upload a video of you looking at irons in John Lewis. Go on our version of Facebook and join in a conversation or ‘forum’ about where you like to eat out.
Yes, it appears that actually interviewing real people in real time doesn’t have to take place at all.
Oh but you do have to be good at analysing the ‘data’ you get sent apparently. And try not to let the client get their hands on that data before you’ve had a chance to collate said data and use your well-honed qualitative skills to imagine why participants have chosen to upload that particular video of them swimming with dolphins in Miami.
Now I’m at risk here of sounding Luddite-like and this really is not the case. The truth is what got my goat last night was the early comparison made between running two group discussions and obtaining information from sixteen people online.
Surprise, surprise, some group attendees didn’t get to say much, or got away without saying much, depending on your point of view. And surprise, surprise, there were some amazing pictures sent in of people, houses, cats, budgies, cars, planes, automobiles, the lot. And imagine how they all looked collaged up for the debrief.
I’m not saying that the information generated online wasn’t impressive, and I’m not saying that they wouldn’t add a great deal to a final presentation or report. What I am saying is that at no point did we hear about how this new ‘data’ was to be interpreted. And at no point did we hear of what, if any, interventions might be made between providing instructions to participants and using what they then provided to form a debrief.
Twenty plus years of experience tells me traditional qual has been hard graft – it’s not just about travelling up and down the country, it’s about working your socks off in groups and in depth interviews, to get people to open up. Drive, agonise, analyse, interpret, report.
By comparison, at times last night it felt that online qual might offer a slightly more comfortable way to forge a career. Instruct, collect, collate, collage, present.
There is definitely room for all of the techniques shown last night, and I came away convinced that there are probably even more than five wonders of online qual research. But let’s not blur the lines between collecting diaries and pictures, and conducting excellent groups and depth interviews.
And let’s not lose sight of the fact that insight generated via groups and depths can feel just as rich, if not richer, than giving people the power of the internet and asking them to upload a video of themselves feeding their guinea pig.

Thursday, 15 January 2015

Me, Me, SurveyMe

I’ve been accused in the past of being an out and out ‘qually boy’, and that’s how a former colleague still refers to me. In fairness, I have been known to fly the qualitative flag for all its worth. For me, market research has always been about quality, not quantity; why talk to people at all, if you’re not going to talk to them in depth?!
But I’ve come to the conclusion recently that we’re all allowed to adapt and change. And I’ve decided to respond to the way in which the world of research has changed too.
There are three key strands to my thinking, all of which have combined to encourage me to invest in a new research tool, currently taking the world by storm.
The first is the current call for research which is carried out ‘in the moment’, so at the point of purchase or at the point of a consumer or business person, experiencing a particular product or service.
The second is the explosion of research which is now being carried out via a mobile device or an app, be it a smartphone or an iPad or other tablet equivalent.
And finally there’s the aspect which has always been a big part of qualitative research, rewarding participants immediately for helping you with a survey, surveys which in this case are providing real time feedback.
The answer to the three issues raised above, so real time feedback, via a mobile device, in this case through an app, for instant rewards, has been brought to my attention by a company relatively new to the world of research, namely SurveyMe.
Using their new product and encouraging people to download their app, I’m now able to create and conduct surveys quickly and efficiently. Results can be provided back in real time at the touch of a button or a click of a mouse. The product creates great looking charts too, and full data that can be downloaded via Excel or via a PDF.

So there you go, ‘qually boy’ is embracing the future. And whilst still believing in the power of qual, he’s also connecting with the power of now – instant feedback, instant rewards, on the move and via an app.
Take a look, you might be sold too