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Paul Hudson
Paul Hudson CEO of Intersperience
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Integrating Online Communities into Facebook

Market researchers have long been on a quest to engage with younger audiences, who are notoriously elusive and difficult to engage in traditional research. With online, community-based research, we are more likely to ‘meet them half way’ by entering their space of the social web.

Our ‘Digital Selves’ research has shown how little this group use email, with online communication for them being all about social networking sites, such as Facebook. For them, this is about communication, not entertainment.

The surprising thing is that community style research is actually better at engaging older demographics who are keen to learn to use forums and blogs in what they see as relatively safe branded spaces. For them, branded communities are more easily understood than Facebook. On the other hand, research has shown that the younger demographic are keen to stay anonymous where brands are concerned, willing only to communicate on their terms, when they want.

Everyone from the local hairdresser to huge multinationals are suddenly talking to their customers – and potential customers via SNS.

By integrating our online communities and panels with Facebook, we hope to address the following points:

  1. Engaging younger customers in their space:

    The under-25s are notoriously hard to reach with traditional research methods. In fact, even online, community-based research hasn’t proved to be the key to reaching this group. We need to be talking to them via the channels they use: Facebook being the most popular.

  2. Facebook is increasingly used instead of email:

    Facebook is increasingly being used as a main means of online communication. Therefore, rather than our emails falling into the black hole of an unchecked email account, we’ll be joining the stream of conversation which makes up participants everyday lives. This will, lead to higher levels of engagement and keep us in participants’ social loop.

  3. Pass it on:

    In 2010 we introduced our ‘Invite a Friend’ function to our platforms and started to receive referrals to our in-house online research community: TrendSpot. We can take this one step further with Facebook integration. Now, panellists can share the news about TrendSpot with their Facebook friends who will be able to join the panel using their Facebook login details, so they’re only a few clicks away being panel members.

  4. If it isn’t on Facebook it doesn’t exist.

    In this day and age, we take it for granted that we can find out anything about everything on the web. Any company, organisation or institution without a plausible looking web presence is regarded with suspicion at the very least and in the last couple of years the addition of that little blue Facebook button has become almost mandatory. Therefore, not only does being on Facebook allow us to connect to community members and join their social network, it also keeps our platforms real.

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