Social Media and PR

Haley J. Higgs

Will focus groups fade away due to social media? April 15, 2010

Filed under: PR Connections — hhiggs87 @ 9:44 pm

In the world of PR, focus groups are a must…or are they? All through college, I have been taught how to conduct focus groups and why they should be conducted. I have spent countless hours transcribing tapes filled with ummmms and hummms just to read back over them and write and analysis. So, what have I learned through all of this? Focus groups take time; lots and lots of time.

I recently conducted and moderated a focus group. My group members and I had six people confirmed to participate, one showed up. Well, as you are probably saying to yourself, that’s not a focus group. And you’re completely right, so, we continued on and called it an interview.

So, why am I saying all of this? What exactly is my point? My point is this, through social media, we have the perfect focus group, so, why are we still trying to get four to six people in a room for and hour just to have to go home and transcribe a tape?

“Twitter is an instant focus group, on-call 24/7, and comprised of some of the most brilliant and thoughtful people you’d ever want to meet.” That statement was made by Todd Defren and you know he is absolutely right. So, what if some people cancel? Twitter has millions of users; find another.

Another thing you can do is check out the blogosphere.

Wikipedia says that “the blogosphere is made up of all blogs and their interconnections. The term implies that blogs exist together as a connected community (or as a collection of connected communities) or as a social network in which everyday authors can publish their opinions.” The blogosphere is a way for you to find the information you need from the sources you want. The blogosphere can be accessed through websites such as: Technorati, BlogPulse, Tailrank and BlogScope. All of these sites track blog activity and shows connections between blogs.

Like in the video, focus can prove to be a wash. I realize the video takes the idea to a new extreme but keep in mind that was their purpose. I know the focus group isn’t going anywhere. I enjoy conducting them and I have nothing against them. In fact, I have two scheduled for next week. But I did want to present an alternative. We are living in an age ruled by social media. Could focus groups be sucked into that world, too?

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2 Responses to “Will focus groups fade away due to social media?”

  1. Mackenzie Says:

    Wow! I never thought of this, but you are completely right. Social Media is like a 24/7 & instant focus group. Obviously there are some things that Twitter or other Social Media sites could never do that compare to a real life focus-group (or at least yet, who knows what social media will be like in years from now). Early this week, for Public Relations research we attempted to conduct a standard focus group, we had 3 people confirm and only 1 showed up. My group members and I had to go out and find four random people. It was upsetting and thankfully we found people. But imagine if that happened on Twitter, just like you said! You could easily find another. I agree with you traditional focus groups will/are fading away!

  2. Jessica Cameron Says:

    Haley, you make a good point. I have never really thought about focus groups becoming extinct in our world of social media. Although we are used to the focus group that are held in the Veazy conference room or something of the sort, could focus groups become popular through Skype or video chat? With social media, focus groups could become a much bigger thing. I know sometimes it is difficult to get people to participate in focus groups, especially students. So social media might be a way to get a wider range of opinions and a better participation rate in focus groups. I personally like the idea of face-to-face focus groups better. Plus, focus groups typically have yummy snacks!


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