Chat online focus groups involves bringing a group of people together in a web browser environment at the same time to chat about ideas and questions guided by a structured discussion plan. In a traditional focus group, people might sit around a table or in close proximity in the same room, but in an online chat focus group people are sitting in their home or in any location that has internet access. The online focus group moderator manages the group over a sixty to ninety minute time frame by activating topics in a structured discussion plan. It’s as close as you can get to focus group chat automation using a real person to control the flow of the discussion and the depth of the participant responses – in real-time.
People logged in to the online focus group express their views, thoughts and opinions in response to questions or topics through live text chat. You might ask people if they would purchase a proposed product or service, and why! What do you need to do to improve an offer so your target market would be more likely to buy or use your service? It goes without saying, these are the types of agile conversations you should be having with your target audience on a regular basis.
Seven reasons why chat online focus groups work
- It is a perfect solution to engage a group of geographically dispersed participants of between 6 and 12 to get the answers you need on any topic. No need to wait for transcripts to be scribed form audio recordings the text chat transcripts are available right away. The data you get from the online focus group is focused and detailed, with time stamps giving you a clear picture of the discussion flow. You can quickly review the discussion and make an adjustment to your discussion plan before running your next online focus group.
- Chat online focus groups provides a degree of personal anonymity not available to traditional focus groups unless the participant sits behind a screen. The anonymity promotes an environment where participants are highly engaged, and experience reduced inhibition. There is no group pressure to conform to the ‘norm’ or to fall in line with the loudest voice. People feel comfortable with the process and being themselves rather than showing their public face when surrounded by a group of strangers in a physical environment.
- Participants are highly engaged in the process, and there is a degree of gamification experience involved in the chat. It is not uncommon for members who have taken part in the chat focus groups to express how enjoyable the experience was. A happy participant makes moderating the online focus group a natural process and is particularly evident when running chat-based online focus groups where people are proactive in answering questions.
- Chat focus groups are agile and flexible by design and provide quick insights on topics for projects which need an iterative approach. It is a way for you to talk with people using a structured text chat enabled environment. They are quick to setup and organise and allow for quick changes to the chat discussion. A deep dive into the discussion can be achieved using open ended or closed ended chat prompts you may have prepared in advance.
- The participants do not need to download any plugins or install any apps to take part in an online facilitated chat discussion. They just log into a secure environment using a username and password. If you need participants to install apps, in any environment, you instantly increase the overhead of managing participants and the method becomes less cost efficient.
- Chat online focus groups can occur one after the other without having to organise and pay for room hire, refreshments and multiple resources as needed in a traditional face to face focus group. There is no need to spend time setting up the room or closing the room once the focus group has finished. Adding and removing people from the chat focus group can be done quickly and without having to wrangle people in and out of rooms. You can focus your time and resources setting up the online discussion guide and adding chat prompts to your plan so that you can moderator the group with a simple point and click.
- Moderating participant’s online from a different location does not mean that you can’t manage or keep an eye on the online focus group activity. A moderator receives feedback from the software to show who is responding to your discussion topics and the activity they are currently completing. You can start a private chat with an individual, or you can engage an observer online I real-time to receive feedback from a client or co-worker on the questions being asked. Observers, located anywhere, can also chat among themselves and discuss the comments as they watch the group unfold. All from the convenience of their home or office.
This article first appeared @ groupquality.com/blog