A key piece of cross-sector primary research, commissioned and undertaken by GfK NOP has highlighted the potential of engaging with ‘bloggers as research partners’ to mould the future of online research.
The focus for this paper was borne out of two augmenting trends.
The first is the way in which researchers have become increasingly close to respondents, and the relationship between them has become more equal, such that the latter are now ‘participants’ who promote, as well as respond to, topics and agendas.
The second is the need to pierce through the range of generalisations made about ‘bloggers’, common both in the media and marketing sphere, to identify their real potential in a research context.
In order to progress and explore this argument, GfK NOP engaged directly with bloggers themselves, in order to seek their views about how researchers might engage with them.
The GfK NOP team, which included researchers from the dedicated Online team as well as the Social Research division, held a workshop ‘Walking with Web Natives’ at the recent General Online Research 2009 conference in Austria, to share the findings of a research study carried out by the team here in the UK.
Ten bloggers from around the world took part in a supporting study; their blogs were analysed, they were interviewed one to one, and they took part in conversations about their blogging via a shared online space.
Four themes were explored – Motivation, Identity, Audience and their response to ‘Web Mining’.
The last of these is a process whereby blog and forum posts are automatically and remotely harvested and analysed from the blogosphere as a whole.
Utilising this approach of viewing the blogger, not the blog, has methodological implications for the future of online research.
Developing partnership when designing a range of engagement techniques, will allow GfK researchers to gain context and deeper understanding of the drive and agenda of ‘online natives’.
London - June 2009