Bulletin boards focus groups (also known as BBFGs) are extended online discussions that take over 3 to 5 days, or more. BBFGs may have between 18 to 25 participants per group and develop in an asynchronous, threaded, self-paced fashion.
Here is an overview of bulletin board focus groups and their advantages and disadvantages.
Methodology of Bulletin Board Focus Groups
The methodology of a BBFGs starts with the moderator releasing a set of questions on the first day, and participants providing answer to those questions. The moderator reads the participant’s answers and provides additional questions, as required. This process takes place every day throughout the duration of the BBFG.
Besides providing carefully planned questions in a sequence, the moderator provides stimuli through an electronic whiteboard. The stimuli ranges from steaming video to web pages to electronic documents to surveys, among other options. Participants record their feedback to the stimuli through textboxes or polls at their own convenience. Several companies, such as Kantar Media Audiences, provide this type or similar type of market research.
Advantages of Bulletin Board Focus Groups
Online focus groups are a great alternative to face to face focus groups when the target audiences are geographically dispersed and time-starved. The two main types of online focus groups are real time chat and bulletin board. Bulletin board based focus groups have several advantages over real time chat based focus groups.
First, bulletin boards allow each of the 20 to 25 participants per group to truly have an opportunity at expressing him- or herself. The extended period of time (often 3 to 5 days) provides ample opportunities for participants to provide all the feedback they want.
Second, the anonymity and self-paced nature of bulletin boards provide additional comfort to participants in the privacy of their answers. This is particularly critical when discussing highly specialized or sensitive topics.
Lastly, the threaded nature of bulletin boards allows for multi-phase development and tasting of the focus group. In turn, highly active bulletin boards may evolve into extended tracking studies.
Disadvantages of Bulletin Board Focus Groups
Face-to-face focus groups may be preferable over other types of focus groups due to the importance of context to appropriate interpret the statements from the participants. Also, you get richer information when people are gathered around and they present different ideas, particularly if they are opposing sides to a specific issue.
Additionally, in most facilities, face-to-face focus groups may be observed via the client either through one-way mirrors or through video conferencing. This may not be feasible through a bulletin board focus group.
Even though a bulletin board has several advantages over real time chat, it is important to understand that it may not be suitable for certain scenarios.