A bulletin board is a methodology used for qualitative market research. A bulletin board is a virtual tool or discussion thread allowing users to sign-in and post comments, answer questions, read postings, post content, upload and download files. The difference between a bulletin board and an online focus groups is users of the bulletin board do not have to all sign-into the group together at the same time. Bulletin boards are advantageous for busy respondents may not have an hour or two to set aside to participate in a full discussion either in-person or online.
Think of a bulletin board as a virtual focus group room with a massive bulletin board attached to the wall where participants walk in and out of the room and stop at the board to post questions, comments, and react to other content. The participant walks out of the room online while others walk-in and so on like a revolving door. Participants are required to log in and participate within regular intervals (24 hours, 48 hours, etc.)
Bulletin boards are often used in B2B settings where respondents are difficult to recruit and may be geographically dispersed across the country or world. The bulletin board allows users to pop-in during a free lunch hour or after work at their convenience. It also spans across time zones because the conversation is ongoing. This is helpful and enables respondents to share photos which can prove useful in manufacturing and industrial settings. The on-site engineers can share photos of issues or problems they have, allowing the moderator and sponsoring company to see visuals.
The moderator of the online bulletin board monitors discussions, probes when necessary, and poses new and follow-up questions. An online bulletin board in market research works much like a private forum. Not all participants will remain active and engaged so you may need to budget for additional recruits to ensure you get enough results for your research report.
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