What Not to Do When Conducting Focus Group Discussions Online

Dani Garan
Sep 05, 2019

What are bad habits and practices that we should get rid of to avoid risking the success of an online focus group discussion?

More and more researchers are opting for a digital means of conducting research because of efficiency and cost-effectivity. Electronic communication technologies have enabled researchers to utilize new approaches to focus groups, also making it easier for its participants because it minimizes the need for extensive travel.

But like any other research tool, the success of your online focus group discussion is primarily determined by the amount of time and effort put into preparing for it. From recruiting participants to preparing discussion plans, scheduling, facilitating, and generating reports, everything has to be planned out accordingly.

Unproductive Habits That May Cause Problems When Conducting Focus Group Discussions Online:

  • Not limiting your respondents

It is advisable to limit the number of your respondents anywhere between 8-10 depending on the scope of the research topic. Overpopulating your focus group discussion with too many respondents would be difficult for the moderator to handle and may only cause confusion among you and the respondents. On the other hand, very few respondents won’t allow in-depth discussions to take place.

It’s also important to remind your participants to give you a heads-up ahead of time should they find themselves unable to attend the session for you to be able to quickly look for a replacement.

  • Not securing confidential information

This is especially important in sensitive research topics that require the need to protect your respondents’ personal identifiable information (PII). In this case, you can opt for a face blurring or audio masking service feature to prevent their personal information from getting leaked.

  • Not recording the session

In this day and age where technology is at its peak, researchers need not go through the cumbersome process of manually taking down notes during interviews and focus group discussions because technology has allowed them to record and even have the audio and video files transcribed into a text format for easier means of reference.

  1. Not doing tech checks ahead of time

    Conducting focus group discussions online requires technical stability that is not normally needed if it’s done in-person. This is why it’s important to do tech checks before the focus group discussion and make sure that the service works well for all participating individuals.

You may need to get assistance from skilled and trained technicians who will be responsible for tech checks, webcam updates, getting the participants ready for the discussion, and any possible technical glitches.

  • Not maximizing image, audio, and video stimuli

Another benefit of focus group discussions online is that the stimuli can be delivered directly to the respondents’ screen, giving them the ability to work on their own pace. It will also help to look for a provider that allows you to include stimuli for your online interviews and focus groups that can be used dynamically. Your provider should also enable you to showcase these visuals efficiently to generate appropriate data.

As long as you avoid the above-mentioned and prepare adequately for your focus group discussion ahead of time, you’ll do well.

Make the Most Out of Your Online Focus Group Discussion with Civicom CyberFacility®

Conduct IDIs and focus groups with ease and utilize multiple tools that will help guide your market research to success. We make sure that your sessions go smoothly without a hitch. Get more detailed insights, include multiple pieces of stimuli, and conduct your meetings around the world with qualitative interview software like Civicom CyberFacility®. Get more information about our online IDI and focus group platform.

Image source: pikisuperstar at

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