Traditional research panels that reward members with prizes and points for taking surveys have experienced higher panelist attrition rates and growing costs per interview. They are faced with a general deterioration in data quality and it’s time for researchers to explore a more effective panel solution – the social online research panel.
A social online panel is based on panelists interacting with one another. Instead of a panel manager or moderator feeding surveys to panelists in a one-way communication format, the panelist becomes more highly engaged by being invited to participate in interactive studies that also might cater to their interests, lifestyles, habits, hobbies, and other characteristics they have revealed about themselves.
Members of social panels often feel more empowered and involved in the research and therefore become more loyal panel members. Socialized panels involve an increased sense of belonging and contribution among the panelists made possible through the creation of online specialized communities that are assembled with panel members. Inviting panel members into a private online community is a highly effective way to get them to engage in interactive research tools, such as forums, discussion groups, focus groups, and two-way surveys.
Social panel development is orchestrated through a robust survey, panel, and community management and feedback technology platform. The tool makes it easy to recruit panelists through e-mail and build detailed profiles of each of them through online survey development and deployment. Managing the social panel is also less of a challenge through the software’s unique capability to pull together panelists with similar profiles and to target them with a research study that will interest them.
The panel manager creates a mini-community of like-minded panelists where they can provide feedback about a given research subject. Software makes it easy to update the profiles of the panelists through consistent surveying of changing panel behavior towards your brands and new panelist life events.
Researchers that embrace social panels as an integral part of the research paradigm will take a giant step forward in enhancing their customer insights. They must first understand the needs and desires of their socially connected customers to sustain long-term profitability or risk losing market share to competitors who are more adept at a socialized research strategy.
Companies that have panels or are thinking about building a customer panel would benefit from the deployment of an enterprise feedback management suite — software that in one platform manages survey writing and fielding, panel profile databases, panel recruitment, online community portal development, and integration with other customer databases.
Darren Bosik is Chief Research Methodoligist at QuestBack. He will lead a webinar about “Developing a Social Online Panel” on April 1, 2014 at 1p.m. EDT. Watch the Webinar On-Demand.