Research 2009. The Annual Conference

While there was not a central theme to the conference it could have been “power to the people”. If one thing was clear it is that research is humanizing or will have to … . Here are a couple of my personal thoughts on a two day conference, as always variable in content and format quality (I just kept some of the best stuff 🙂 ).
Public science. Lord Robert Winston drew the parallel with science having a bad name because of our failure to engage the public. We have lack of interest in nuclear power as an alternative energy source due to the negative communication of the past, whilst it may be a very carbon friendly technology. I personally believe the same may hold for market research. We need to give back to the people who generate insights for us, our participants, to increase their engagement and make research sexier.
Open it up! Especially if we want to get the most out of research communities, we need to move away from “walled gardens” to more open research communities. My personal view goes even one step further. We need to invest in platforms made for and by participants in which we develop long lasting relationships based on intrinsic motivation, rather the arm’s length interactions of single focus groups and web surveys. Using a plethora of research tools, having participants generate their own content and polls (called it the Facebook of research) … these platforms will go to the core of participation and sharing. Social network research platforms will generate a continuous feed and flux of insights, thriving on the trend of lifecaching and opening up opportunities for (n)ethnography.
If we want to manage research communities and social networks effectively we need to:
1. develop shared goals
2. introduce group rewards
3. shape group identity
4. stimulate participants to build a shared place
5. celebrate and allow public recognition
Meanwhile, friends and relationships on social media can be used by brands assess “brand value relationships” – an issue we are convinced of for quite a while at InSites Consulting.
Implicit. Measurement need not only be direct. Biometrics (e.g. heart rate, respiration …) and eye tracking can provide added value for measuring ad engagement next to expert interviews and online surveys. Call it fusing explicit and implicit measurement for better insights. Otherwise, we can also rely on trend analysis and semiotics to generate inspiring insights into the future. For sure we can learn alternatively from bottom-up and outside-in processes – all developments compatible with the venue of social media research platforms.
At InSites Consulting we added another spectrum recently through adding text analytics to discern patterns to existing data by unleashing computer power. The ultimate goal is to unveil information that is hidden for the human eye and you did not realize was even there.
From “done-for” to “done-with”. Charles Leadbeater picked in on day 2 stating that we would grow from a “done-for” to a “done-with” economy for three reasons. First there is the venue of collaborative culture on the web and social technology. Second it will become increasingly important in public services as well as, three, in the innovation and co-creation of physical products. A statement quickly put in perspective as we need to understand the “some”. Co-creation works some of the time, with some people, in some markets and under some conditions
Wrap-up with a good story. As with many things and especially with understanding the world (or at least trying to), things become more acceptable and sticky with a story. Hence not different with research: all research needs to tell a story to inspire and generate impact. In doing so we can rely on citizen journalism, but one needs to especially make sure
– you know what story to tell and a clear structure
– you have the material to understand your audience (in such a way it does not only embellish your findings)
– you play the medium as well as the message
After a lot of serious content, the conference closed with the lively and quite amusing Research X-factor … Quite engaging, creative and funny – hope to see it in Belgium some time.
As every “self-respecting” conference this one also had award nominees of which I am thrilled. Click here to check out why 😉
Will be back next year!
I was inspired for the above views by Robert Winston (Imperial College London), Ray Poynter (Virtual Surveys), Nick Gadsby (Lawes Consulting), Ian Wright (OTX Europe), Sarah Everitt (Google UK), Rachel Lawes (Lawes Consulting), Charles Leadbeater (Demos and Participle), Sheila Keegan (Campbell Keegan), Andrew Davidson and Graham Saxton (OTX Europe), Lisa Stych (Incite Marketing Planning) and Amanda Boote (Warner Bros). Thanks all!
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