10 Ways to get inspirational qualitative mobile videos

Tom Woodnutt

Tom Woodnutt

Feeling Mutual

Tom Woodnutt is Founder of Feeling Mutual, the agile online and mobile qualitative research specialists. He helps clients and agencies run global studies and offers training in the space. Tom has been a Digital Skills trainer for the Association of Qualitative Researchers (AQR) and is a regular speaker at industry conferences, including the MRS, MRMW and IleX.

The mobile phone is a revolutionary tool for conducting qualitative research. The ubiquity of smartphones and the convenience they afford, has led to highly contextualised and media-rich feedback. It’s also such a personal device that it inspires more intimate disclosures.

I believe that mobile qualitative research will become even more popular as researchers learn to design studies better. If a mobile qual project is not properly designed, researchers can easily become overwhelmed by the time it takes to wade through so much video content. If questions are not inspiring, they can fail to generate insightful feedback. It can also be technically challenging to manage participants (especially when your average handset now records in HD which presents uploading challenges).

So how can you avoid these pitfalls and get the most out of mobile qualitative research? Here are ten ideas for mobile video mastery:

1. Predict where the emotion will come from

Consider the participant’s relationship with the brand, category or issue and predict where they will feel most emotional. Craft video tasks accordingly to try and capture it.

2. Ensure participants feel comfortable taking video

Recruit people who are happy to take video. Remind them it doesn’t have to be slick but remind them to hold it steady and use the selfie function to stay in the shot.

3. Suggest someone else records the video

Sometimes participants are able to talk more freely if they get a friend, partner or parent to record the video.

4. Be selective about who you ask to take video

If you want to save time in analysis, just ask the most relevant people (based on their previous textual answers) to repeat what they said in video form.

5. Offer an additional incentive for the mobile video element

To increase participation you could consider offering an additional fee for undertaking the video part of the study.

6. Get approval up front

Include the question in the screener and get the participants written approval before they start the study.

7. Recruit people with the right mobile phones

Not all online qual mobile video apps work across all devices; so check that your screener includes the app’s technical requirements.

8. Limit how much video you ask for

Only ask for one or two videos per person to keep content manageable (in a typical project). Explain that they should be no longer than 30 seconds to help with upload speeds and reduce your analysis burden.

9. For global projects use subtitles and translators

To simplify your analysis on multi-market projects, consider working with local translators and moderators to add subtitles and refine the final edit.

10. Use participants as researchers

Why not ask participants to take videos of people in their life (with their permission of course)? This removes some of the ‘researcher effect’ and takes you closer to their social world.

If you’re interested in learning more about mobile qualitative research excellence, please get in touch via We are running a regular Masterminds training session in London and are set to launch a webinar series soon.

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