Choosing the right research method can be tricky as no two research methods produce exactly the same type of results. For example, focus groups can be a cost-effective way to gather data and observe unique phenomena and information (such as participant reactions) that other methods can’t replicate.
They can be time-consuming – most Focus Groups require a minimum of a month or more to recruit, plan, and execute – but they can also be very rewarding with the stories, experiences, and testimonials you can collect. However, what 6 people in a room will say when prompted can be very different from what they say to each other publicly, informing all who will listen.
It may be more important to ask: how to choose the right mix of research methods. What will give you the largest strata of data and the truest, most full picture of your audiences and their decision-making behaviors? It should likely include both prompted and unprompted research types. What’s more, the right selection can help inform one another. For example, we have found that our clients use our digital ethnography to write better, more probing questions for surveys.
Also, consider research that will give you the fullest understanding of your population – which can be hard when some types require you already know your population well to target them effectively. While you may assume that all who you target make up the population who speaks of you, that is rarely the case.
In many instances, some deliberately un-targeted audiences may be those who speak of and about you the most. It’s also important to note whether they say these things unchallenged. The loudest person in the room is very influential to those who are simply browsing and reading – formulating opinions from the content they see there and not interacting. It gives those who speak up undue influence.
Consider that 10% of the people on Twitter create 90% of the content – this means that the majority of those on Twitter are simply reading the thoughts of the 10% (that is a lot of control).
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