Written by: Marcia DaCosta
Recruitment for online communities and research panels has always been challenging and usually done using a combination of strategies. From cost effective options such as post cards, or small, price-locked online campaigns, to pricier initiatives such as in-person events or phone cold-calling, recruitment is a necessary item on the list of any online community creation and maintenance.
With the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, a new normal is taking over everyone’s way of life. Online communities and research panels have become even more important, if not crucial, for market research. Recruitment is only one more aspect that will have to adapt to this new normal.
Social Media recruitment initiatives need now to be utilized widely to replace many old strategies.
Recruitment teams will no longer be able to reach large audiences in conferences, universities or other gatherings, so searching for online sites or groups where these same audiences are moving their activities to is a must. The usual swag, treats and other small gifts provided to those who spent time at the recruiting team table will be replaced with online gifts, promo codes to online purchases, draw entries for online prizes… anything appealing and digital!
Phone recruitment, while still a possibility if call centers adapt their operations, should also be at least in part replaced with online alternatives. A successful recruitment method is to offer online membership after phone surveys are completed. The idea is that the respondent, who just went through the interview, is more likely to join a community in the promise of "more activities like this one", along with the pitch of compensation and outline of time commitment. Why not then make small research activities (one of two questions) available on online ads, for current topics or topics related to your community? The same offer of online community membership should be professionally and clearly stated after the activity is completed, as an interviewer does.
While the rules of the ‘new normal’ are still being formulated, online recruitment initiatives should adapt and build on old learnings to continue reaching the audiences of interest.
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