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3 Things You’ll Miss If You Don’t Log On Today

Today and tomorrow I’ll be moderating an online discussion board to help optimize message ideas for clients who are new to online qualitative research. A new project and methodology are fun for everyone involved. We encourage our clients to observe (or as I prefer to say, ‘listen’) from a ‘virtual backroom’ where they can watch the discussion unfold, ask questions and share comments with their moderators. Most clients can’t wait to log on and dive right in, but sometimes they’re too busy, or just prefer to wait for the report that follows. I respect different choices but those who DO take the time to observe are typically fascinated and better informed with a deeper context.

If you don’t log on to the online discussion, here’s are three things you’ll be missing…

See your target as REAL people

This is the real deal. We are dedicated to exceptional recruiting when it comes to your target. This is not a ‘segment’ or a ‘persona’. There are no averages. They are real people who were emailing me all last night to tell me how excited they about our discussion over the next two days. They are human beings who will share their thoughts and feelings with us. Beyond paying incentives, we owe it to them to be listening with our full attention!

Clients and agency stakeholders have used the words ‘addicting’ when they get onto an online discussion board with Upwords. Being able to follow a single person’s responses as well as getting the entire group’s take on things is quite powerful.

I once had an entrepreneur so passionate about the virtual backroom experience observing, that she actually printed the transcripts to read while on vacation so she wouldn’t miss a thing. We didn’t recommend this – vacation is vacation!


Understand what they REALLY think of your ideas

This is sometimes a painful reality. People in online discussions don’t sugar coat what they think. They don’t worry about hurting my feelings with what they say – after all, we’re asking them to speak openly and candidly (although some still do apologize for sharing negative feedback). The reality is, if you don’t get feedback on your messages/ideas before you bring them to life,  you’ll hear about it after – and no one wants this stuff on their twitter feed. The flip side is when we can build on what’s working and truly understand why it’s working (it’s not always why you think) – that’s powerful and often helps you get to a much better place.

Just like being part of a conversation is different than hearing about it after the fact, listening to the feedback enables you to internalize it in your own unique way.
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Get more than you expect

When you come to ‘observe’ or ‘listen’ and you try to reserve judgement and not succumb to confirmation bias (that’s when you see/hear only the things that confirm what you already believe). I promise you’ll see something in a new light. But this part depends on you, the client. You have to actively log on and get to know these people while the online discussion is taking place. Sure, it’s a bit of work when your days are already so full but I promise it’s worth what you’ll uncover, the ownership you will feel to action the insights.

Try to check in just a couple of times a day. Typically early evening is the busiest. Get yourself your favourite snack and beverage, sit back and prepare to immerse!

The conversations you will have with team members (who are also ‘observing’) will be so much richer. Every stakeholder brings their own unique point of view. When we can build on the learnings together, that’s when the true collaborative magic happens and the time spent at the debrief is much more focused on ‘what’s next’ as a result of the insights.


So now you know what you’ll be missing if you don’t log on, dive in and immerse into your next online discussion board. But don’t worry, we also understand work days are longer than ever before so we’ve always got your back and promise you a simple, clear report if you can’t be there.