Let's (moderator) network!

Imagine a research community with 50 moms, talking about the well-being of their children, their daily worries and their occupations. Suddenly, one mom starts up a discussion about… breastfeeding. All hell breaks loose. Our brave mom asks advice about what to do once her second child is born. With her first one, breastfeeding wasn’t exactly a success: being exhausted and having too much pain caused her to quit breastfeeding after only three weeks. She doesn’t want to breastfeed anymore and wants to know about possible alternatives. Immediately, two groups of moms take position on opposite sides: those who are absolutely attached to the idea of breastfeeding, and those who are more in favour of personal freedom. Both groups have a point, but the discussion is heating up and is getting personal. How to deal with this situation?

We are all social animals

This is only one example of how research communities can be challenging for moderators. As Aristotle once said: ‘the human is a social animal’. Being social and interactive is in our nature, and luckily it is: acting social is also the driver behind these communities – we want consumers to react upon our questions, listen to each other’s stories, get affinity for others, discuss each other’s opinions. But we don’t want them to block each other, devaluate each other’s opinions or demotivate others.
Taking into account that we conducted more than 500 research communities in 30 different countries, you can imagine that these situations might also differ qua content and approach from country to country. Time to dig in somewhat deeper and to develop some guidelines to deal with this type of sensitive situations.

Let’s (moderator) network…

In the past year, InSites Consulting established its own Global Community Moderator Network that proved to be more than successful. More than 150 moderators are part of this network, supporting us in conducting the best communities around the globe. Our moderators are in contact with our participants every day. Who else is better suited to consult when wanting to learn more about sensitive topics and situations in online insight communities?

On our internal moderator platform (the Moderator Square), updates and news are regularly posted. The Moderator Square is the perfect way to connect and share ideas. That was the starting point of our research: for one month, we posted several topics around the theme ‘Sense & Sensibility’.
Five topics were discussed:

  1. Cultural differences: what issues should we take into account when it comes to different cultures?
  2. Sensitive topics: what are the most sensitive topics in a community and how should we deal with them?
  3. Community conflicts: what to do when you have two opposing groups in a CCB?
  4. The community leaders: how can we make sure to engage the entire group and not only the most active ones?
  5. ‘Extreme’ personalities: how to approach them?

The result? A “911 guide for online insight community emergencies”: guidelines that can be useful when coping with a certain sensitive topic, building on relevant stories and experiences of our own Moderator Network.

… and everyone gets smarter!

After the analysis, these guidelines needed to be shared again amongst those which we consulted in the first place: our Moderator Network. The first Moderator event was a fact. On December 5, a one-hour session was organized, where, besides a practical update and an internal case, the guidelines were shared and even explained by some of our top moderator contributors. A next session about Participant Engagement is already planned on March 11, 2014. Through this continuous cooperation with our Moderator Network we are leveraging on all the knowledge that is centred within our company and of course, we are working together on a better understanding and execution of our projects.
Curious to know more about the 911 guide? Stay tuned, a next blog post will elaborate on this next week!
Interested to join our Global Community Moderator Network? Get in touch for more information.

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