Online Communities: The participants' experience


By Jim Bryson via QualBlog


ESOMAR Online Conference

The paper presented at the Conference titled, "It Works for Us but Does It Work for Them," focused on community participants.  The findings were taken from the 17% of these panel members surveyed who had taken part in a community.  Of these, 71% said they "always" or "usually" enjoy participating, so the communities have more positives than negatives.

Generally, participants said they enjoyed participating because communities are a convenient way to provide input on a product or brand and participants felt marketers were truly listening.  Communities are convenient because participants can generally enter and leave when they want and participate as much as they want.

They also liked the fact that they developed familiarity with other community members who they saw there on a regular basis.  Participants also appreciated the optional ability to be anonymous and, presumably, be more honest.

Some of the "dislikes" participants mentioned were the low and uneven distribution of incentives or participation rewards.  Because prize drawings are public, they are open to criticism about fairness. Participants also questioned the sincerity of some participants, believing that they tended to posture for the marketers than providing true opinions.

Communities appear to provide strong benefits for participants as well as researchers.  Therefore, they are likely here to stay but will "morph" over time into many different variations. We will continue to watch the community phenomenon unfold along with other techniques to better understand the mind and behavior of the consumer.

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