Online panels vs online communities: What’s the difference?

As suppliers and developers of online software solutions for both online panels and communities we are often asked “what is the difference between a panel and a community?” Broadly, the answer can span the spectrum of “they are completely different” to “not much at all”. This contradiction is not a misunderstanding of the two but a reflection of how the market perceives the usage and their own requirements.

Let me explain: The definition of an online panel (according to Wikipedia) is ‘a group of selected research participants who have agreed to provide information at specified intervals over an extended period.’ Panel members are usually asked to respond privately, in one-to-one surveys and to provide additional information about themselves, such as demographics, ownership and lifestyle information. Advantages to using a panel are the ability to build rich and deep participant profiles to quickly identify target groups. Panels also allow researchers to easily customize and match candidates to surveys to prevent Survey-fatigue among potential participants.

Alternatively, a market research online community (or MROC) is defined (by FlexMR) as ‘an actively engaged group of participants who regularly share and discuss ideas.’ An online community is a gathering place where participants can discuss openly and collaborate around topics. MROC members are a curated and actively engaged group who meet on a custom platform designed for research to participate in conversations and exercises around a common topic. MROCs are popular with researchers because of the ability to gather real-time qualitative data, along with the potential to be creative since data can be collated in a variety of different formats – ie. mini-surveys, video journals, group discussions. Additionally, participants tend to feel more relaxed, open and honest in an online community, which can result in the collection of deeper insights.

Does that make things any clearer? Maybe yes, maybe no. The key takeaway is that whatever your requirements, whether you are utilizing an online community or an online panel, Q One Tech has a solution.

Over many years, Q One Tech has been developing software for online research and can supply you with the right solution for your needs. Whether you already have an online panel or community, or are looking to build one, our all-in-one platform will help you meet your research needs by increasing business performance, visibility and efficiency through automating panel management, project management and data collection workflow, leaving you to focus on taking on more projects, completing projects faster and delivering results to your clients.

The Q One platform conducts continuous ongoing research, online conversations about new product developments and idea creation, campaign testing and product development. With Q One you can mix qualitative and quantitative methodologies along with continuous updates to panellist and respondent profiles to ensure that you have the most up to date view of your panellists and respondents at any given time.

Get in touch today and we will be delighted to discuss your requirements and demonstrate how Q One can help you achieve your research goals.



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