With more than a billion online users, Facebook is an obvious choice for nurturing online discussion and communication – even within the closed focus group setting. Especially if your team is on a budget.
If your business is considering launching a virtual focus group on Facebook, the following ten tips will allow you to use the format effectively to benefit company goals and overall business.
Establish Clear Objectives
Before launching any type of focus group on Facebook (or any other platform), it's essential to nail down your objectives. Be clear about what you want to learn from this group so that you can create specific questions that will lead you to obtain the information you need.
In fact, it's helpful to meet with a planning group in order to set objective parameters. If you have concrete goals in mind from the start of the process, you're more likely to hit them.
Define Your Participants
Once you establish your focus group objectives, you can begin to define and recruit participants.
If your group is wondering how to better market to women, you might want to recruit a cross-section of women of various ethnicities and ages. If you want your focus group to provide you with information about your customer service department, you'll want to invite new customers, long-term customers, and both male and female customers representing different age demographics.
Define Your Procedure
As you plan your focus group, you'll need to clearly lay out your procedure and the expectations you have of your participants.
It's helpful for your participants to know what you're planning to use their information for, and how you intend to procure it from them. Let them know how many questions you hope to address and provide them with any instructions ahead of time.
Also, make compensation, if applicable, clear. Some focus groups pay all participating members. Some do a random drawing. Some don't pay at all. Whatever you decide, set expectations early.
Create a Positive Atmosphere
One of the technical limitations of using Facebook as a platform for your focus group is that you can't impact the venue the way you could in a traditional conference room (for instance, you can't bring in doughnuts or fresh coffee).
However, in spite of the limitations that the virtual setting must contend with, you can still do your best to create a positive atmosphere. For instance, as mentioned above, you can reward participants with other incentives for being part of your group.
And, it will be cheaper than coffee, doughnuts, and conference room booking.
Careful Question Design
Your questions are at the heart and soul of your group. As such, it's important to tailor them well to your goals, and have several questions on back up in case one type of questions causes confusion or doesn't elicit informative responses.
Again, go over your questions with your planning group and be sure to include questions that encourage participants to open up to your moderator.
Particularly effective for Facebook focus groups, you can use online surveys to collect responses and analyze responses before or after the open, active discussions.
Integrate Multimedia Content
One of the great features of Facebook is that it is highly conducive to the sharing of multimedia content.
Therefore, when you design questions, you can even complement them with video or slides in order to provide participants with helpful visuals. Visuals also help break up the monotony of text, which can lead to more dynamic discussions.
Choose Your Facilitators Carefully
Because your facilitator is conducting the group online, this person will need to be technically savvy and well-versed with the Facebook platform. Ideally, you should choose someone who has experience running Facebook focus groups.
You'll also need a moderator who can keep your group on track and prevent it from becoming mired in any one particular issue.
Embrace Negative Feedback
If you're keeping an open mind regarding your focus group (as you should), you'll need to embrace any negative feedback that comes up.
Rather than becoming defensive, it's important to gather as much information about negative experiences as possible so you can examine them closely. Negative feedback can be an important catalyst for positive changes.
Be sure your moderator thanks participants for their feedback – whether it's good or bad.
Translate to Text for Easy Analysis
Having run your focus group on Facebook, you'll have the ability to easily transcribe it all to text so that you and your examining group can carefully peruse its results. Supporting open discussion with surveys will make this easier, but also provide you with the quantitative data to back up the qualitative input.
During the analysis period, map out any trends that were noticed in the discussion. Also, don't hesitate to reach out to your participants if you need more clarification, especially when it comes to actionable decisions that require comprehensive information.
Share Your Results
Finally, publish your results so that your participants have a chance to see how they've impacted your company and its plans. Many organizations skip this step, but you'll find that participants will only be more active and helpful if they have proof their input has been heard and valued.
You can certainly share this information with your customer base at large in order to market your work with your customer team and demonstrate how you value customer feedback.
Focus on Facebook Focus Groups
With these tips in mind, you can successfully plan and implement a focus group on Facebook. The site may have its limitations, but both traditional and other virtual venues do as well. The key is to get familiar with the social network and plan your own meeting very carefully – with all these helpful tips in mind.