An online diary, or bulletin board in some cases, is a space where participants keep a diary of their activities, tasks, experiences and thoughts. In return, researchers get a window into participants' lives, their life-styles, habits, thoughts, experiences and opinions.
Online diaries may be hosted through a smartphone app, a dedicated website etc.
Example of an online diary: a famous drink brand wants to know where their regular consumers buy their drink from the most often. They invite a specific target of consumers to take part and ask them to take a picture of the place they buy their drink from every day. This example would probably be hosted on an app to make the photo process quick and easy.
Online diaires typically last anything from 5 to 28 days.
Generally speaking an online community is a virtual community whose members interact with each other primarily via the Internet. A type of online community we have all come across on the Internet is Forums.
Now in the Research world, an Online Community is often invitation only (private) and centred on a single brand or customer segment.
For example, you may be invited by Nike to take part in an Online Community for their new trainers if they have identified you were a regular buyer of Nike trainers. The brand (here Nike) may want your opinion on retail prices, design of a new model etc.
Online communities usually last anything between 3 months and a year, sometimes more.
Online Diaries & Communities are a great way for brands to better understand the daily lives of their customers and how consumers interact with their brands in their everyday life.
Whilst being more enjoyable than traditional research for respondents it is also much more insightful for the brands/companies running them. Instead of having just a written answer on a question, they can ask participants for videos or pictures to illustrate their answer.
It is also a great way for them to gain insight over a period of time and not just through an instant survey or phone conversation.
For all these reasons, brands are willing to pay for the active participation of the recruited participants in the form of cash, PayPal or shopping vouchers. Online diaries can pay from £10 to £60 depending on length but also on the number of tasks you are required to complete.