How to Fix the 5 Most Common Mistakes with Hybrid Remote Focus Groups

Louise Principe
Jan 28, 2022

Focus groups are often the first method that comes to mind when a researcher wants to collect insightful answers from targeted respondents. But with the digital transformation that is rapidly occurring, hybrid remote focus groups are increasing in popularity because they can be conducted anywhere and everywhere with the help of a camera and a phone or computer screen.

While this hybrid method can be very effective, it’s also

easy to commit mistakes and get your strategy wrong, ultimately preventing you from taking advantage of its benefits. Let’s look at the five common mistakes in hybrid remote focus groups and how you can solve them.

  • Balancing group dynamics

  • The way remote and in-person participants interact and relate to each other in the focus group is essential for everyone to remain relevant and engaged. The common mistake in a hybrid setup is power and control issues between the participants. Certain respondents may tend to dominate the conversation because of their extroverted personality or because they are more talkative face-to-face or behind a screen. The opposite of this situation may also occur wherein the respondent is more introverted or less talkative in certain settings. This may negatively affect the study because participant responses can be influenced by others, creating a bias in the results and discussions of the group. 

The moderator should find a balance in the discussion between who is talking and their air time. All participants should have the chance to share their opinions online and in-facility. Get them to loosen up and feel at ease with each other so everyone can share honest insights. Overall, the moderator should be able to leverage group dynamics to maximize the positive benefits of interaction among participants.

  • Presenting stimuli

  • Stimuli such as commercials, ads, or websites are often shown to respondents to explore their reactions and gain relevant feedback on improving these materials. But the way these stimuli are presented to a hybrid group is different to if it’s just a fully remote focus group or an in-person focus group. Stimuli that are not well-presented or hard to understand can result in sessions that are not as productive as they should be. 

The solution for this is to prepare stimuli that can be easily translated into a hybrid environment. This means that both online and in-person participants can easily see, understand, and react to whatever stimuli are presented to them. Consider the technologies your respondents will be using and work around that. This way, everyone can participate and provide worthwhile insight no matter where they are.

  • Choosing an experienced moderator

  • The moderator chosen for your hybrid remote focus group can be the difference between a successful session and a session that provides misleading information. Inexperienced moderators may not be comfortable in an online or in-person setting because they are only used to conducting one or the other, not both simultaneously. This may limit the flow of conversation since the moderator may have difficulties managing online responses with the participants talking to them face-to-face. Not having an experienced moderator may derail your focus group efforts, wasting time and money in the process. 

Clients should hire experienced moderators that utilize techniques to balance a free-flowing discussion and a structured research session between all hybrid group participants. They should be fast typists and readers to use the chat functions online while also keeping their attention on every respondent present. Not only that, but they should also be able to convey warmth and friendliness despite all this to build rapport with the participants. It’s essential to choose the right person for the job.

  • Number of people you recruit

  • There can be several ways that the number of people you recruit for your focus group can affect your research. If there are too many people involved in the group, this may hinder your discussion because too many participants speak simultaneously and interrupt each other. There is also the common mistake of not recruiting enough people to replace respondents that may drop out either from the remote focus group participants or the in-person participants. 

To ensure that you get the correct number of people for your research, recruit one or two more people than you want to attend. For hybrid research, you ideally want to have six to eight respondents, so you can get insights from everyone while still keeping control over the group. Make sure that every participant feels valued even if they attend remotely or onsite so they will be more likely to show up on the day. You can do this by explaining to them the details of the study, so they know what to expect or giving them incentives.

  • Having the right service platform

  • At the end of the day, if you don’t have a suitable platform in place to conduct your hybrid remote focus group, it will be a challenge to make your qualitative research a success. The right platform should be able to support both online and offline participation.

The best solution for this is to utilize a platform that enables you to facilitate face-to-face and online research discussions such as CCam® focus. An in-person recording and streaming solution that offers a unique hybrid capability that lets you view remote and in-facility respondents on one screen, making it feel like you are in the same room with them.

Ensure that Your Hybrid Research is Conducted Efficiently with CCam® Focus

Have the benefit of simultaneous panoramic and active speaker views and a unique hybrid capability that enables you to view in-facility respondents and remote respondents on the same screen.

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