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Over the years, I have had my share of interesting experiences “behind the glass” with live, in-person qualitative research. If you’ve done a lot of groups, I bet you have your own set of war stories (feel free to share them in the comments). A short list of my personal favorites includes:
• Three guys in a focus group all with the same auto repair company shirts (no, of course we don’t know each other)
• The woman who couldn’t stop coughing for 90 minutes straight (I’m glad there’s glass between us!)
• The young man who literally never said a word (do we really have to pay him?)
What I learned is that when you do groups or IDIs in person, there are lots of opportunities for things to go wrong. There are challenges with logistics, travel, weather, recruiting, distractions (dinner’s here), and simple exhaustion from the late evenings.
An alternative that has gained popularity over the past few years is the online forum (bulletin board, short-term community, etc.). What it lacks in in-person dynamics, it more than makes up in efficiency, convenience, and flexibility. Last year, BuzzBack introduced our own version of an online forum that we call Hive. Not only does it have the benefits I just mentioned, but it also allows us to integrate our projective and enabling techniques into the forum. You can check out our webinar on youtube or request a case study to see what I'm talking about.