Online communities have emerged as an alternative approach to traditional online panel research. They are an effective way of interacting with and sourcing customer insight, across a wide range of topics and business issues on a continuous basis or at regular intervals. Online communities embrace a more participatory two-way exchange with research participants.
An online community is a qualitative research community. The size of an online community varies but most have between 50 and 500 members. They are private, branded, and focus on customers and stakeholders — although there are exceptions to all of these criteria. Research communities come in two varieties, short-term and long-term. A short-term community typically lasts between two weeks and three months. A long-term community is typically ongoing, being commissioned and renewed on an annual basis.