Applying Your Skills to Online Qualitative. A First Look at Bulletin Board Focus Groups. Special Olympic Session. Purpose. Help transition face-to-face moderators to the BBFG environment
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Don't over-layer questions (“How would you describe an ‘Ideal’ relationship with a real estate broker? What would constitute going “above and beyond the call of duty”? What would added value be? What would create a “neat” factor?”)
Don't over-probe; a bulletin board allows for probing, but two factors mitigate against its extensive use:
Participants only see the probe when they log on next time, so there is a loss of immediacy and interest
Every probe interjects the moderator into the group, reducing interaction
Don’t over-indulge in questions on awareness or top-of-mind questions, or questions that only require yes/no answers
Invest in infrastructure. You need a decent computer and high-speed Internet access
Consider hooking up with a more experienced online researcher who can, for love or money, provide a safety net from beginning to end of your first online qualitative project
If the project and your client allow it, try to include both an online and a real-world component in your project. This will allow you to validate the online experience and to contrast the different lessons from each mode
Direct costs (recruiting, incentives, and facilities), which in the virtual world are roughly comparable to those in the real
Your clerical time, which will include tasks like adding participants to the facility roster, sending out invitations and reminders to them, cutting and pasting the discussion guide into the facility, uploading whiteboards, etc.
Your moderating: you will be doing little else but monitoring the bulletin board for its duration
Your analysis: you will be both overjoyed and dismayed at the depth and quantity of information that participants will share with you using that methodology
Remember: the savings to the client derive primarily from doing fewer sessions in different cities, and from traveling virtually.