If your plans for a focus group have been thwarted by Covid-19 don’t worry, there are plenty of ways to collect your focus group data remotely. Online chats can yield a rich set of ready-transcribed data but if you want to recreate the face-to-face environment then video conferencing is your friend.
Apart from the obvious threat of coronavirus stopping you from meeting people in groups, there are some other advantages to holding your focus group online. For example, people who work full-time and who have dependents might find it easier to take part.
There are loads of good, free or very affordable video conferencing platforms (who are all enjoying a surge in popularity right now). Think about the features you will need for your focus group. Here are our 5 top tips
Our 5 top tips for an online, video-conference focus group
1. The platform should be free and easy for participants to use: You want to make it as easy as possible for participants to join and not cost them anything. Minimise the opportunities for technical difficulties! At its most simple participant can just click a link and go straight into the meeting without installing anything. This is possible on Microsoft Teams using Edge or Chrome browsers (mobile devices need to have the Teams app).
2. Recording the chat: Do you want to record the video or audio of the chat? This is possible in Zoom, Microsoft teams (only paid users) and Skype.
3. Check about data protection: All the main technology companies will be GDPR-compliant but your institution may have additional requirements you need to check. For example, Microsoft Teams saves recordings in the Cloud while Zoom allows you to save the chat just to your computer. To preserve anonymity, you could consider creating anonymous log-ins for participants. You can also give participants the choice whether to switch on their webcams or not.
4. Think about timing: Make sure you schedule your focus group at a time that’s convenient for participants and ensure that there is plenty of time available to iron out technical problems. Ideally you will have a person on hand to provide technical support over the phone.
5. Keep backups: You never know when the technology might have a wobble so we recommend having a back-up plan. Don’t rely on video chats being recorded properly, place an audio recorder next to your computer speaker as well.
If you have any questions or would like to talk to us about your project, we’d love to hear from you so please email firstname.lastname@example.org