Posts Tagged digital-ethnography

7 Tips to Humanize Digital Ethnography

Digital Ethnography

Digital ethnography platforms allow you to interact with many consumers at scale by connecting with them via their computer and/or mobile phone. The tool is adaptable, allowing you to observe consumers in their own environment as well as converse and interact with them 24/7, both inside and outside the home.

However, when using these tools, researchers need to be careful not to unintentionally alienate themselves from their respondents. Because unlike in-person ethnographies, the nuances of nonverbal communication remain unseen and the warm tones from face-to-face interactions are lost.

Digital ethnography platforms are great, but if you don’t get the number of completed activities you need from them because your respondents are disengaged or uncomfortable – then that’s a huge problem.

So how can you take advantage of these next-generation research tools without sacrificing the human touch?

Here are 7 tips to humanize the experience for your respondents:

  1. At the beginning of the study, record a video of you and your team introducing yourselves, preferably in some cozy setting like on a couch. It always warms things up to see the people you will be interacting with. Make the introduction friendly and conversational. You want them to feel like they know you!
  2. Ask them to upload photos of their hobbies and interests outside of the study. Before jumping straight into the heart of the study, allow themselves to express who they are. What do they like to do? What are their passions? This helps break the ice and also allows you to get to know them outside of a certain segment (i.e. “breakfast eater or non-breakfast eater”).
  3. Instead of writing a message, use a webcam to answer any of the more complicated questions they have. This reminds them that yes, there is indeed a real person behind the platform.
  4. Let them know what they are doing before they do it. It always helps to have an intro piece that explains to them what they can expect (i.e. “This next activity will be a creative one. We will be asking you to create a collage which you will later talk us through in a video”) before giving the specific instructions and “how-to” of the activity. Going straight into the directions may seem too overwhelming and intro pieces allows for breathers and reduces confusion.
  5. Double check your copy to make sure it is friendly, clear, and succinct. Include exclamation points and encouraging words after they have completed tasks (i.e. “Great job on your collage! Now for the next activity…”)
  6. Welcome them each morning of the study with a friendly note. The note should be an update of their individual progress and the community progress. The note should be friendly, but also lets them know how many other people have completed the task. This social proof will instill a tiny sense of guilt and of course motivation if they are among the ones who are not caught up yet.
  7. Probe to dig deeper. Asking more questions based off their answers (i.e. “Could you elaborate on how you were feeling here?”) will help you to get at deeper insights. It also lets them know that there is someone actually reading their answers and will encourage them to continue.

 

We hope these tips can help you maintain the human touch with your consumers, allowing them to open up, leading to more honesty, candor, and deeper insights.

Export Your Memory to the Cloud – Courtesy of Google

Google Search Life

When I saw what Google was up to, my mouth dropped at how fascinatingly creepy life was headed.

Google recently filed a patent for glasses that would record and index your real life experiences, export them to the cloud, and allow you to search them later.

Yes, you could ask questions like “What movies did I watch last month?” Or “What paintings did I see when I was on vacation in Paris?” and voilà. There your answer would be. It’s Google for life itself.

For those of you familiar with the Charlie Brooker’s Black Mirror series (my favorite tech dystopian TV show), this is literally one step in the direction of the 2011 Episode 3, Season 1, The Entire History of You, which because of it’s popularity, is now slated to come out as it’s own sci-fi thriller.

The episode follows a man whose implant allows him to capture his entire life, with the ability to play back and zoom into any moment in front of his eye or on a shared screen. The technology brings up various ethical, philosophical, and psychological issues, from privacy, machine/human boundaries, memories used as weapons, and the importance of memory’s malleable nature for our emotional and psychological well-being.

Despite the grim possible futures elaborated on in Black Mirror, there are many places where we can see how searchable memories can prove to be useful in the near and the more distant future.

Eye Witness Accounts
As we know now, eye-witness accounts are horribly unreliable, proven to be susceptible to false memory and misidentification, leading to almost 70% of wrongful convictions. What if during court, you could just rewind to the eye witness’s memory of the particular incident as opposed to relying on their testimony?

Security
If there was a building break-in, instead of asking every guard during the shift of the incident to recall if they have seen anyone who fits this certain profile, investigators could simply search the faces of everyone who had entered the building from 7pm-9pm and fit the particular description, making it easier and faster to identify potential suspects, as well as the criminals themselves.

Home Care
“Where did I last put my keys?” This new technology could aid the elderly or those suffering from memory problems from disease or injuries to be more autonomous in their daily life.

Education
A classmate could export and transfer his memory from a class or workshop to a fellow classmate who is out due to the flu. Recordings of lectures are already provided by many universities to their students to learn remotely. Curious students could also search and view memory clips of professionals in interested fields to get a real life glimpse into their day and life.

Market Research
Researchers are great at collecting and synthesizing data from different places (whether it’s from surveys, social media, or from face to face interviews) and then extracting meaningful insights to inform business strategies.  Imagine how much deeper and more quickly researchers could dive if they were able to sift through a wide variety of footage taken of consumers during digital ethnography, getting that qualitative richness and depth at big data speed and scale.  We’ve already seen existing technology being leveraged to speed up the research and innovation process, such as with mobile surveys, web cam interviews, and agile online tech tools like our own Idea Accelerator.

Google has been at the forefront of many exciting and innovative initiatives, from their self driving car to Google Glass to Project Loon. And like how Google Search online has completely transformed the way we work, think, and live (for good and for worse), it will also be fascinating to see how a Google Search for real life will transform not only the many industries in which we work but us as humans (for good and for worse).

9 Tips When Approaching Sensitive Research Topics

shutterstock_249343768 (1)

Let’s talk about personal hygiene. Or sex? How about death and illness?

Researchers know too well that not all topics are easy to talk about, and there are certain topics of conversation that people will naturally shy away from because they are deemed too personal, stressful, sacred, or deal with a fear of stigmatization.

In our work, we have dealt with a variety of highly personal, sensitive topics from personal care (hygiene, body image, etc.) to health and wellness (illness, psychological disorders, aging, etc.). We know that dealing with these topics takes patience and experience to truly get the most out of your conversations, but still respect and protect the consumer.

Here are our top 9 tips when approaching sensitive research topics.

1. Use online platforms so they can feel a little more anonymous in their sharing
Even if you are doing in-person work, starting out online can act as a perfect warm up, allowing respondents to share more while “hiding behind their screen”.  Start with private online activities and then slowly transition to online group discussion to get respondents more comfortable sharing with others. At antedote, our online platforms allows us to prime our consumers with exercises, from questionnaires or virtual collages, warming them up for the actual face-to-face time, and ultimately allowing for deeper, richer, and more focused conversation.

2. Consider the environment
Traditional conference style tables and chairs can feel rather cold and uncomfortable. Consider starting with a happy hour with appetizers and wine, then moving into a relaxed living room setting to do the group talk.

3. Set up the conversation
The beginning of the conversation is crucial. Spend ample time talking about the flow of the day before getting started and answering any questions. Help set their expectations to put their minds at ease by using phrases like “there are no wrong answers” and “we don’t know what we we’re looking for”.

4. First, talk about something else
Don’t just dive right into the sensitive topic. “How do you feel about the way your skin looks?” is obviously never a good starter. Instead begin by talking about how the behavior plays out in a different, less sensitive category first, then work your way to the intended sensitive topic.

For example, if the topic being studied is evening skin tone, which can become a sensitive discussion due to its associations around aging, personal care and cleanliness, you can begin by first talking about the same behavior in a more comfortable scenario, such as stain/removal in household care. You can facilitate the conversation around removing stains from clothing, sheets, or whitening teeth – then tactfully move into skin. Respondents are more likely to talk freely about a less personal topic first, so it’s a good way to start out.

5. Allow them to educate you
Don’t assume you know everything. Leave all assumptions and pre-conceived notions behind. Ask for them to teach you about what is going on. What do they hope for from products? What is it like to be them? What do they wish people knew? You be the student and let them be the teacher.

6. Have them share with one another
Set up forums or focus groups as a safe place for discussion. If everyone in the group is dealing with the same sensitivity, they may even enjoy exchanging tips or suggestions or empathizing with one another.

7. Use metaphors
Bring in visuals. It’s easier to talk about sensitive issues in the abstract. Allow them to point to visuals or draw pictures to describe how they feel.

8. The power of stories
People tell stories everyday. Encourage them to share stories about the topic they are dealing with as opposed to just “answering the question”. Stories can get deeper and open up new conversations you wouldn’t even think to have had.

9. Be prepared to share yourself
Traditionally moderators are trained to keep themselves out of the conversation, but to encourage sharing on sensitive topics it helps to build rapport and open your personal self to the conversation. Just keep in mind to keep the self-sharing to a minimum so you’re not influencing them, but rather showing that you can relate. Making them feel connected will generate a better conversation.

Unlocking the power of digital ethnography

Digital Ethno

Unlocking the power of digital ethnography, by Antedote’s Anne Lacey, explores the multiple dimensions of digital ethnography and the potential it has as a research tool. The article can be found on Core77.

Check out the excerpt below for a short preview and be sure to read on here.

“To gain to new insights and opportunities, we need to think and approach research differently. Digital ethnography can fuel new ideas and research approaches, as my colleagues at antedote and I have seen in the years since we designed and built a mobile and online tool for studies from the ground up. Although digital ethnography has become an umbrella term for a great many online qualitative research tools, we use it specifically to mean a lengthy study (a week or two to several months) with consumers via computer and/or mobile phone, comprised of a blend of observation, live experience-alongs, interviews and user-generated content. Though these elements are common to it, each study has custom elements to it, premised on one big idea: using cutting-edge technology to restore some of the original intent and benefits of ethnography.”

— Anne Lacey for Core77