Posted By Kayte Hamilton,
Tuesday, August 25, 2020
Leveraging Social Media Intelligence with the Qualitative Research Community
This is a follow-up to the QRCA Flash Webinar designed as an introduction to social media research (what it is
and how to get started). (Presented with my industry colleague Frank Gregory from NorthStar Solutions Group.)
It probably doesn’t come as a shock to anyone reading
this that the coronavirus pandemic is now the most talked about topic in the
history of social media. A perfect storm for social media conversation volume
growth has emerged: Consumers across the globe are stuck at home (initially
under strict government orders, now in the interest of community safety),
wanting to express how they feel about the situation, how their views of
everyday topics have changed because of the situation, or simply to virtually
connect with others and laugh to take their mind off the situation. The obvious
way to do this is from the comfort of their couch—by posting on social
consumers’ behavior has been forced to change, the landscape for researchers
has changed as well, with some in-person methodologies being impossible to
execute for the near future. Therefore, researchers should consider a pivot to
new execution strategies, including social media intelligence, as a new tool in
your toolkit…myself included!
Years ago I attempted to dabble in social media
listening. Pain points included having to learn new skills like query writing,
on top of navigating multiple social listening platforms which were all different
and all limiting. Functionally, this resource hadn’t been ripened for
basic qualitative interpretation. So I admit, I checked out. I figured, “if
a client wanted social listening they either (1) are doing it internally or (2)
would have asked.” I couldn’t have been more wrong, and Frank quickly schooled
me on the renewed power of social mining.
Social media listening is an older view on this research tool. At the time, listening
made sense; for the most part, we were simply observing the incoming data and
trying to make our own interpretations and connections. Most of the time this
told you a percentage of conversation share the brand has and some light ideas
revolving sentiment analysis (is there a positive, negative, or neutral perception?).
Social intelligence, the
more modern way to describe this sector, is much more advanced. It can capture
consumer conversations across any digital entity (from actual social media to
product reviews) and add demographic and psychographic layers allowing you to
“segment” the digital population (lightly compared to formal screening, of
course). Today’s tool landscape helps us analyze in ways past platforms dreamed
of, such as audience affinity, influencer evaluation, or platform performance
benchmarking. In short, it’s adding more context to the conversations.
Regardless of the
type of social media analytics tool, to me the biggest appeal to jumping into
social media intelligence more fully is the reminder that it’s really never too
late to get started. Unlike other “in-the-moment” approaches qualitative
researches might implement, we can go backward in time and analyze
social media conversation in time chunks.
As opposed to trying
to ask a consumer how they felt about X topic 2 years ago vs. 1 year ago vs. 6
months ago vs. today; social media intelligence allows you to find the millions
of consumer comments discussing that topic over that time period. The posts
consumers made 2 years ago are still there waiting to be analyzed. So, using
the coronavirus pandemic as an example, kicking off a social media intelligence
analysis today doesn’t mean you’ve missed out on the last few months of social
conversation trends—including how the coronavirus has changed the way consumers
think about certain brands, industries, and behaviors.
Every single company
has been impacted by our current events. Consumer perceptions around the globe
have been impacted in almost every way imaginable, often related to the brand
or company you are supporting in your research project. There are many ways to
tap into these conversations and use the information to your advantage, from
proposals to report writing.
- Use the
data as part of a pre-search phase, getting up to speed on a topic.
if this tool is something you want to execute or find a partner on.
Similar to online boards, ask if you are an expert programmer or if you pay
extra for the setup service.
your clients how they currently engage with social media analytics. Can you
help layer your qualitative expertise with this “big data”? Analysts approach
the information much differently than a consumer insights professional.
the client’s internal department is sharing social media data with the
social intelligence as only the “major” social media channels. Data collected
includes public forums, news sites, blogs, product reviews, etc., in addition
to the main social media sites (Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, parts of
yourself; just because it’s not “screened” or “recruited” information,
doesn’t mean it can’t add value to your insight generation process.
Like all new skills,
integrating social intelligence into your process takes time. To me, it’s the
same type of learning curve as:
I think people shy
away from learning new skills because they are unsure of how to translate their
current qualitative skillsets. Quallies are not just moderators; we bring more
to the table than simply asking questions. Therefore, we should have a dynamic
set of resources to help us interpret and uncover insight beyond interviewing
Let’s start a
discussion. What’s holding you back from integrating social intelligence
to your qualitative practice?
About the author:
Kayte Hamilton specializes in research design at InsightsNow among a large variety of clients from pharma to
CPG. As a hybrid researcher, she’s always looking for ways to mix methods.
Currently she’s the chair for the QRCA Annual Qually Award, where she advocates
for innovative research solutions and shares these findings with the greater
social mediaCustomer Journey Maps
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Posted By Farnaz Badie,
Thursday, June 25, 2020
Annual Conference Reporter on the Scene: Beyond Storytelling: When, Why and How to Work with Stories
Presenters: Criscillia Benford and Anna Marie Trester, PIER Consulting Group
Summary of Conference Session
This session's speakers are both social scientists, focused on linguistics and humanities. Their powerful session at the QRCA Conference looked at the use of narrative inquiry and storytelling in order to facilitate workplace conversations and help organizations build better work environments and relationships with their customers.
Key Session Takeaways
There's nothing more deeply human than stories. As long as humans have been able to talk, we’ve been telling stories. We process what’s happening to us and catalogue it in the form of stories. In Silicon Valley, storytelling is now starting to replace traditional methods, such as surveys, in assessing employee satisfaction. The speakers use narrative inquiry to help organizations learn how communication is experienced within their cultures, and how these experiences shape their cultures.
There are three key steps to the process of a narrative inquiry:
Step 1 – collect stories
Step 2 – process stories
Step 3 – look for patterns among the stories
In the case of an organization looking to better understand its current culture, step one involves meetings with stakeholders in order to consider what the experience of a young employee in their organization may be like, and ultimately formulating two to four themes. The speakers then use a story circle whereby 10 employees/peers sitting in a circle share their stories about the organization. An example of a prompt for the story circle: "Think about a time when a supervisor gave you some advice—it may have been in a formal setting, like in their office, or an informal setting, like in a coffee shop. What did the supervisor say and how did you feel about it?"
In step two, a group of 10-30 stakeholders review the stories collected from the employees, and start to make sense of them by considering the emotions, feelings, actions, and dialogues expressed in those stories.
In step three, the stakeholders start to cluster the ideas emerging from the stories and look for repetition and patterns of behavior within their organization.
In summary, narrative inquiry is used to identify what’s working and what’s not working in a culture. From there, the team helps the organization create intervention initiatives. Storytelling can be used in many ways to help our clients better understand a challenge they are facing. For example, storytelling can be used in new product development projects, where moderators can ask respondents to tell us the best and the worst stories they have had with a particular category or brand.
The presenters emphasized that as facilitators during the narrative inquiry, we have to be as invisible as possible—if you intervene in the stories being told, you won’t hear the details.
Stories contain worlds... but it's just as important to hear what isn't being said (referred to as a Noisy Not), as it is to hear what is being said.
QRCA Reporter on the Scene: Farnaz Badie, The Thought Bubble
QRCA Annual Conference
QRCA Reporter on the Scene
types of research
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Posted By Ted Kendall,
Tuesday, February 11, 2020
Updated: Tuesday, February 11, 2020
Adapting Your Listening Skills to the Online World
By: Ted Kendall
As a successful qually, you intuitively know the importance of listening, how to listen well, and how to show participants that you are listening.
Listening is important because it engenders trust, creates rapport, and opens participants up.
In a physical setting, the key things we do to listen, and to show we are listening, include:
- Asking questions in response to participant’s thoughts
- Using verbal and non-verbal cues to show how you are listening
- Letting participants complete their own sentences
- Maintaining eye contact
- Acknowledging comments in specific ways like boarding or post-it notes
You will have noticed that most involve physicality—you have to be there in real life.
So, how do you listen, and just as importantly, show you are listening, in online qual?
Before we get into this, let me clarify that when I am talking about online qual in this context, I am referring to text-based online qual—primarily bulletin board style. While webcam interviews may be considered online, real life listening skills can be applied to the medium fairly easily.
Set Expectations to Counter Online Research Misperceptions
A unique challenge with online qual is that participants don’t necessarily know the difference between a survey and a qualitative discussion, so they often treat the study as if it were a survey. And they often believe that any interactions will be with a chatbot, not a real person.
It’s critical to counter these widely held beliefs and set the appropriate expectations up front. Tell participants you are listening to what they will say. And let them know it’s not a survey—it’s a conversation.
I can sometimes be pretty blunt about this—even going so far as to tell participants that if they just speed through the answers to my questions, they will not get the incentive. And then, when someone does that, I follow through on the promise and call them on it. Often it changes their interactions. Sometimes it doesn’t. But they definitely know you are listening. And, if the discussion is open to the whole group, others will see that you are listening as well.
Depending on the platform, you can use the messaging tools as well as the landing pages to accomplish this. And if the tools aren’t there, just use email or text, even phone, outside of the application.
I also make it a habit to reply to every participant post in the introductions—much like I do in a traditional focus group setting, or for that matter, in a conversation with a stranger. These replies can often reflect common ground, ” I love spending the day in the mountains with my dog too. What kind of dog do you have?” That’s not a question that will provide rich insights, but it will help open up the participant and really shows you are listening.
It’s critical to establish early in the conversation that you are a living, breathing, listening human being—not some chatbot or AI ghost in the machine. This has a huge impact on how participants approach your conversation.
Avoid AI Tools
Several online platform providers are touting AI generated responses to participants. All I can say is that this is what we get when we let the programmers drive development. Avoid this feature. Yes, it saves you time during the discussion. But it also removes you from the conversation—you are no longer actively listening. You wouldn’t let a robot take over your focus group session just to save time, would you?
Also, AI is not yet perfect. And it needs to be in this case. It’s not a life or death situation, unless you consider the life or death of the research conversation. Even if the AI gets 90% of the interactions correct, there is that 10% that will suck the air right out of your conversation with that participant. If you are using a group setting, other participants will see the mistake and the negative impact becomes exponential.
So just don’t do it. The potential losses greatly outweigh the potential time savings. Besides, actually responding manually forces you to listen and learn—which is what this is all about. Don’t let a robot take your job.
How to Digitally Use “Non-verbal” Cues and Maintain Eye Contact
In the online, text-based world, you certainly can’t maintain eye contact, nor can you provide non-verbal cues to show you are listening. So how do you employ those key principles of listening in an online, text-based world?
Probably the most obvious way is replying to participants’ posts with questions to better understand what they have said or get some clarification on their comment. Yes, I am talking about the same probing questions we lay on participants in focus groups and interviews. These probing questions work just as well online as they do in real life.
To replace those non-verbal cues, I have found it quite effective to comment or ask questions even when there is no need to do so. The idea is that by just saying something, participants recognize that you are there and you are reading what they are posting—you are listening.
Sometimes it is easy to just copy and paste the same general comment to several participants when you do this. If the participants can’t see one another, this is fine and saves you time. But if the participants can see each other, then it just makes you look like a robot.
It’s important when making comments just to show yourself to not require a reply—often this is an option. I like to just thank people for providing quality detail or thank them for an interesting take on the topic. The important thing is to personalize it a bit, to keep it from sounding generic.
Another way to show you are listening is to use the messaging app within the platform to hold meta conversations outside the actual discussion. I make it a point to send reminders at set times as well as thank-yous at the end of the day of discussion.
These messages don’t have to be just logistical in nature. You can also use them to show you are listening. Sometimes I will include a comment about some of the discussion—an insight that came through for the whole group of participants, or sometimes personalizing it to a specific participant.
In the end, listening is important to successful qual, whether you are in the same room as the participant or interacting digitally. It’s just how you listen, and how you show that you are listening, that can take a little adjustment in the digital qual world. But it’s no less important and no less doable.
Ted Kendall is the founder of TripleScoop, a boutique research agency that has a focus on online qualitative. Ted got to this place in his career by being in the right place at the right time to pioneer in early online methods. He was a co-founder of QualTalk that became 20/20 Research’s QualBoards. He learned how to moderate online qual through trial and error and has moderated hundreds of online qual discussions and interviews since that first one in 1997. And he is usually a good listener.
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Posted By Kunyi Mangalam, Mara Consulting,
Tuesday, November 26, 2019
Use a Listening Session Approach for Better Design & Innovation Research
This blog is intended to offer a high-level description of a qualitative data collection method called Listening Sessions that can yield deeper understanding of people’s reasoning, emotions, and guiding principles. This approach is particularly valuable for practitioners of design research, and for those who contribute to the innovation process.
This approach was developed by Indi Young, who invented Mental Model Diagrams (MMDs) when she was one of the founding members of Adaptive Path. Find her at IndiYoung.com. When I interned with Indi, I learned this approach as part of her methodology. Adopting this approach made me a better interviewer for the Discovery work I do in Service Design.
Research for Design – it’s Not Designing a Calorie Tracking App, it’s How to Look Good at a Reunion
Research for design and innovation is tasked with understanding how people make decisions as they progress toward achieving a purpose. The “thing” that’s being designed, like an app, is always part of a larger goal. For example, I want to keep track of my calories by using a tracker on my phone. The thing being designed is the tracking app. But my larger purpose is to look good at a reunion. The app will help me in that goal.
For innovation, it’s not just about one thing (the app), it’s also about what else the company can do to support me in trying to look good at my reunion. Needs will be surfaced that the company can decide whether they want to pursue supporting. Revealing these needs, figuring out how to support them in a competitive way, and commercializing them is fundamental to innovation.
Change Your Mindset from Interviewing to Listening
Conducting qualitative research for design and innovation requires a shift in mind-set. It requires that you “listen” rather than “interview.” You may be thinking, “I have been listening to people for my entire career — I listen for a living!” That’s how I felt, too. Then I learned that an Interview is to a Listening Session as Moderating is to Facilitating. They look similar, but the intent, the process, and the outcomes are different.
There Are Two Critical Differences between an Interview and a Listening Session
First, Listening Sessions belong to Problem Space research; Interviewing tends to belong to Solution Space research.
Problem Space research is concerned with how a person (not a user) thinks and reasons their way to achieve a goal. It is disconnected from a particular company, brand, product, or service. Problem Space research is foundational and can be used to fuel many solutions.
An easy way to think about Problem Space research is that the research focus would be just as relevant to someone your grandparent’s age as it would be to your grandchild’s. Examples include: How do you groom yourself for an important day at work? How do you decide to attend a performance? How do you prepare for a good night’s sleep? How do you make yourself look good to see people at an important get-together?
Solution Space research involves speaking to people about their relationship or an experience with a product, service, or brand — i.e., the solution. The words “users”, “members,” “customers,” and “employees” imply a relationship with a “solution.” Product development, marketing communications strategy and tactics, brand positioning, customer experience mapping, packaging, user experience, and content development are all examples of solution space research.
The table below summarizes the difference between Problem Space and Solution Space research.
The second difference is that you listen for and nudge people to reveal what is underneath a preference, opinion, explanation, or description. Compare this to a Solution Space IDI where we are often interviewing for Perceptions, Opinions, Behaviours, and Attitudes (shout out to Naomi Henderson for her acronym POBA) around a brand, a product, etc. In the Problem Space, when POBAs are articulated, we take them as our cue to nudge people further into their thinking, their feelings, or the “code” they live by to identify what is underneath.
These two differences make an enormous difference in the approach between being a Listener and being an Interviewer.
Difference 1: There is no Guide
In a Listening Session, there is no Interview Guide. The conversation begins with the study scope question, like, “Tell me about how you made sure you looked your best for your reunion…” And it continues from there. In this example, the participant may or may not have used a calorie counter app. They may have used one from a competitor. (Note, they would have been recruited such that they prepared to look their best for their reunion.)
In place of a guide, there is a disciplined ear; the Listener nudges the participant when they hear more surface descriptions. The box to the left summarizes different types of surface descriptions that need nudging to get more depth. The box to the right provides some examples of question stems that will redirect participants to reveal their thinking, reasoning, and emotions.
Difference 2: The Conversation Is Free from Externally Introduced Topics
In many guides, there are questions that we — and our clients — want answered, like reactions and opinions about things participants have not brought up. In a Listening Session, nothing is introduced or queried that hasn’t already been mentioned.
Difference 3: Outputs Are the Starting Point for Innovation and Design
In the Solution space, research outputs are usually an “answer” of sorts: which product package should be produced? Which creative delivered the message most compellingly? Which call to action content resulted in the most conversion?
In the Problem Space, Listening Sessions identify people’s needs as they progress toward a goal or purpose. These needs are the starting point in the organization’s quest to figure out solutions (services, products, experiences) that better support people. Examples include: a website that is more reflective of their needs, a calorie tracking app that corresponds more closely to their purpose of looking good for others.
In other words, while qual in the Solution Space tends to supply the “answers” to problems, qual in the Problem Space tends to supply the “questions” that spur a company to explore one or more directions.
Try a Few Question Stems and See Where it Leads
Integrate a few question stems into your conversation; when a participant say,s “Mostly we go to movies on Wednesday night…”, ask, “How did you figure out that works best for you?” When someone describes a statement of fact — like a describing a scene — ask, “what’s going through your mind in that scenario?”, to get them back to their own thinking and feelings.
For more than 30 years, Kunyi has helped organizations deeply understand the people they wish to serve and assist them in using this understanding to make decisions and move forward with more certainty and less risk.
She is a senior consultant at Mara Consulting, working to help organizations improve service delivery through technology, privacy & security, business consulting, and human centered design.
Linked In: linkedin.com/in/kunyi
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