Nov 6, 2006

On Blogfest reflections and Qual Research

So the party's over and what a riot it has been! Over 40 posts put up by 9 Bloggers who took time out to write about bathrooms for just about a week. It has been exhausting as all of us admit, but it has also been interesting to read so many diverse perspectives in such a short span of time. And it has proved to be an excellent forum for ideation - thoughts developed as we went along the way and one thing led to another to build the momentum. Thanks to Susan and Stephanie who sparked this all off and all the rest who joined in.

As i recover from all the weeks activity, I wonder how effective this is as a medium to get quick and focussed consumer feedback. I had written sometime back about reasons that make blogs a serious market research tool. If we look at 'consumer-speak' as companies would find it on blogs, though information of this kind is spontaneous, unsolicited and less likely to be fraught with postured responses and that is what makes it valuable. the content may / may not be the blogger's most recent thoughts about a subject, the blogger may not have spoken about what exactly the marketer is looking for and more than anything such information is dispersed. Though it is possible to search and find people who have blogged about a subject the exercise may be too tedious and time consuming. Reasons like these and many more may discourage marketers from looking at blogs for consumer research.

The solution at hand: A blogfest.

Essentially recruit a panel of bloggers (and like traditional research, you need not keep market research professionals out of it in the fear that it may skew responses since researchers are consumers too and sometimes the more picky ones thanks to all the research they do). The more diverse the panel, the better. Rope in people from the field of communications, product design, advertising, research, marketing or just a bunch of creative college kids. They do not have to be all consumers of your product as long as they are aware of what is being spoken about and have a perspective to offer.

Agree on a time frame that suits most people.

Give them time to plan their posts, gather material. If it helps give them homework activity - having to visit the supermarket to familiarise themselves with your brands, category or go observe people at the local McDonalds or Starbucks. Whatever it is - make it fun!

Orient them to the topic. Give them some sort of a background, share with them the questions that your product team has been grappling with, your marketing objectives etc.

....And have them start blogging posting each day / several times a day and cross linking to each other to show development of thoughts. Encourage people to post pictures, quote real life experiences, upload audio-video clips...what ever they need to do to get their point across.

It would help to have a quick online meeting in the chat room some days before the fest, to exchange thoughts and just to avoid repetitive posts. You could also stop mid - week to review what's been happening and ideas / topics that need more fleshing out / have not been taken up by anyone.

If you see the excitement fizzling out, you could throw in activities around the theme to energize the crowd !

And at the end of it - I'm sure you'd have a ton of rich information you'd have gathered that you can work with - and a bunch of exhausted yet happy bloggers!

research method,qualitative research,blogs and market research,blogfest,


Lorna said...

really interesting article. How would you reward these bloggers for taking part - would you expect them to blog for free as they would on a site that they had chosen for themselves?

Silke said...

Good ponit Lorna.