Q&A: Long-Term Communities Panel Discussion

Written by Recollective • Posted on June 16, 2021
Questions and Answers Long Term Insight Communities

At the end of last month, we hosted a panel discussion with Echo Market Research on What to Consider When Designing a Long-Term Community. We received an overwhelming amount of questions during the session and, unfortunately, we were unable to answer all of them during the hour-long discussion. Since these are questions we frequently get from our clients and customers, we wanted to share our responses on a broader scale so everyone could benefit.

In case you missed the panel discussion, you can watch the recording to hear insights from Kerry Hecht, Founder & CEO at Echo Market Research, Steve Becker, SVP, Research & Strategy at Echo Market Research, Laura Pulito, VP, Research Services at Recollective and Dana Cassady, Director of Account Management at Recollective.


How would you define a long-term community?

Recollective: A “community” is a way of conducting research with a targeted group of people over a specific duration. They are conducted online, can consist of any number of participants and last anywhere from just a few days all the way to being more ongoing in nature.

Echo: Communities are a place where participants are assigned various activities where they can share their opinions and ideas with one another as well as interact with moderators directly.

Recollective: When we say “long-term” we are referring to a community that spans months, years or could even be created without an end date in mind. Typically “long-term” communities are designed to run on an annual/ ongoing basis but can be shorter if there is a specific objective in mind. We personally tend to classify anything longer than 3 months under “long-term”.

Can you give an example of a long-term community? Also, since long-term communities use relationship building between other respondents (from my understanding) and the interviewers, how do you avoid bias as groupthink?

Recollective: An example of a long-term community would be recruiting a group of participants to engage with the brand, researchers and each other on a regular/ ongoing basis. This can be through a combination of asynchronous activities or discussions along with real-time chats, interviews or groups. While collaboration and socialization helps build the “community” feel - you can help to avoid groupthink bias by leveraging a combination of 1:1, private activities with socialized activities and discussions.

: In addition, avoiding groupthink also falls on the shoulders of the moderator(s). Stressing that the community is a neutral environment for relevant opinions and encouraging members to express their views on the subject matter. It’s important to ensure you’re utilizing the right methodology for the nature of the study. If you’re contemplating asking questions more sensitive in nature - consider using private or anonymous activities.

How would you say B2B communities differ from consumer communities?

Echo: Keeping your audience in mind is the key to any successful community. Building and maintaining B2B communities differ greatly from the average B2C community. For example, it’s common practice to offer business professionals higher incentives for their expertise, as they themselves may view their time as more valuable depending on their role. Engagement frequency must be carefully planned so that professionals can adequately adjust their schedules. You’ll need to be more mindful of your recruitment timeframe as well, as many B2B recruitment initiatives may move more slowly due to the busy nature of the members. Factors such as job title and industry will play a key part in how to maintain the community as well. Many professionals typically join clubs and organizations related to their fields naturally, you’ll want to play to this and position your messaging so that B2B professionals have a firm understanding of how the community can assist them in their professional careers as well.

Any recommendations you have for healthcare long-term communities sponsored by pharma?

Echo: First and foremost, you and your team need to make sure you are up to date with any current laws and regulations surrounding Pharma-sponsored research. Fostering healthy engagement and retention includes incentivizing and rewarding members appropriately, but there are often restrictions around how Pharma can conduct this. A few examples...

  1. If your Pharma-sponsored community wants to provide free samples of a product, be sure that the hosting state, province, country, etc. would permit this.
  2. If your Pharma-sponsored community is seeking healthcare professionals - there are often restrictions on how these professionals can be incentivized by Pharmaceutical companies.
  3. Lastly, consider if it’s best to showcase the sponsor’s branding or host the community anonymously. In an era where news travels quickly, keep the public’s attitude towards your Pharma sponsor in mind when designing and building your community.

What about when it's time to dismantle the community? People may build relationships in that community. How do you deal with anger or frustration at the loss of a community?

Recollective: While we can’t prevent participants from feeling disappointed, angry or frustrated when the community comes to an end, there are things you can do to end on a positive note:

  • Be transparent - we recommend reaching out to participants as soon as possible to let them know there will be an end date to the community so it doesn’t come as an abrupt surprise.
  • Show appreciation - once it comes time to close, show your appreciation by sending a thank you note and a token of appreciation (bonus incentive, gift, etc.).
  • Provide closure - when something comes to an end it’s natural to want to know how the information was used and what will come as a result of participating. Encourage the clients to share how this community has helped shape their organization, products, etc.
  • Stay connected - Alternatively, you can provide participants with a way to stay connected to other members and/or the brand whether it be through social media, the brand’s website or other brand-specific forums or other community opportunities.


What is the ideal size for an effective community?

Recollective: While a long-term community can be any size, we tend to recommend no less than 250 participants with an ideal range being between 500-2,000 depending on how many segments you are looking to include. That said, communities can also scale larger than 2,000 and your target base size will depend on each unique use case.

Echo: On the subject of recruitment, there are some best practices we’d like to recommend as well. If you’re aiming for a Community of 500 people, for example, it may be ideal to budget for over recruiting to land on your target. For example, if you’re working with a customer list - ensure you have an adequately sized list as the response and registration rate may range anywhere from 10%-70%. Work with your recruitment partner to be aligned on expectations if you’re recruiting fresh members as well.

Also factor in that you may want to periodically refresh your community from attrition. Not all members will stay completely engaged throughout the duration of your Community, but depending on the length you can plan and budget for a refresh quarterly, bi-annually, or annually to suit your needs and goals.

What generally works better (e.g. if exploring how people choose a new car)?:

a) Recruiting less (e.g. 20-30 people) and spending more per head on recruitment and incentives
b) Recruiting more (e.g. 75-100) and spending less per head on recruitment and less incentives

Recollective: This will depend on how many segments/ groups you are looking to talk to within your community. In general when it comes to recruitment I rather pay more money per complete to ensure the right fit and that the participant will be engaged in the research rather than over recruiting at a lower price point and hoping someone logs in.

Echo: Do also keep in mind that Community recruitment differs from ad-hoc research recruitment. You’ll want to effectively communicate expectations, the time frame, and commitment to your potential members. Whether you’re looking for a smaller or larger community - setting the expectations well will help ensure that your members are excited, engaged, and fruitful with the data they will provide.


What is the ideal scheduling of tasks for a long-term community board? Do respondents need to accomplish tasks every day? How many minutes each day?

Recollective: Ideal scheduling will depend on your community objectives and the expectations you set with members when they are recruited and opt to participate. We tend to recommend that clients engage with the community at minimum once a month, but short, weekly activities tend to yield the best results. Unlike short-term studies, you do not want to engage with members on a daily basis unless you are recruiting them from the community to do a special project that they will be compensated appropriately for.

Echo: Adding on to this, daily activities in a long-term community may add fatigue and overburden your members. We strive to have communities be fun and enlightening and want to avoid adding undue stress to members.

It's a research panel, obviously, we can't engage all of them with surveys every week, we need other activities to keep them "alive' between tasks.

Recollective: Exactly - it should be a balance of research-driven tasks and tasks designed for engagement purposes.

Echo: Open discussions and other collaborative activities also give members the chance to co-create and interact in between tasks. These voluntary discussions have the potential to breed new research points and key findings.

I've found it's often hard to keep people on top of activities. Any formula on how often to communicate about new activities to recommend?

Recollective: In general, we tend to recommend structuring communities so that participants can anticipate when new activities will be released (i.e - on Mondays) so they know when to look in their email/ on the site. Additionally, we recommend notifying participants of new activities through email by sending a newsletter but you can also set up automatic email notifications right in the platform that will alert participants when something new becomes available. You can even create announcements or place new activity cards on the site homepage.

Echo: Proactive communication is key. During recruitment, explain the anticipated monthly time commitment and activity frequency as well. This will ensure that members don’t feel surprised or caught off guard once on board. Additionally, create a cadence for your activities as opposed to spontaneously offering them so that members can get into a routine. After a few months, this will become second nature - much like making the time to sit down once a week to watch the newest episode of your favorite television show.

Any tips to better involve healthcare professionals (e.g. physicians) in online communities? Maybe incentives, tasks, etc.

Echo: Physician’s greatly value their time as well as input from their peers. Offer an increased incentive for their expertise. In our experience, we’ve also found that Physicians are more likely to join and participate if they're able to see the feedback, opinions and stories of others in their profession. They value collaboration, frame this during recruitment. Also, give great consideration to including Physician Assistants as well, they are heavily involved in the day-to-day operations and are specially trained to answer on their Physician’s behalf as well.


I’d love to know about folks’ opinions on what is paid out/how. We utilize a lot of Tango cards, but this upsets a lot of panelists after realizing what Tango really is. Do folks use PayPal (Mass Pay), direct wire or check?

Recollective: We’ve personally found Amazon gift cards to be a great option. They are very universal and are easy to issue/ redeem.

Echo: Paypal is also a viable option.


Is there a simple way in Recollective to view the responses to the initial screener so we can view the makeup of the group so we can then target activities based on those segments?

Recollective: Short answer, yes! You can create segments based on the responses to your initial screening questions and then target activities based on those segments.

If you have smaller groups can you then open up an activity across multiple groups, therefore, allowing a wider group to participate?

Recollective: Yes, within Recollective you have the ability to target Activities and Discussions to individual segments, multiple segments or to everyone.

And that brings us to the end of our Q&A follow-up! If you have any other questions that were not addressed, please free free to reach out to our team.

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