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?