How to get brilliant videos in your online qual

Hugh Carling

Hugh Carling


Co-founder of Liveminds. I love to bring like-minded people together. Whether that's growing businesses, running online communities, staging events or captaining my village cricket team, nothing makes me happier than seeing people with a shared passion, coming together and making the most of it.

If a picture is worth a thousand words then a video is worth a gallery full of pictures. The impact of a great insight spoken straight from the mouth of a participant can be huge. It can bring the truth to light in a way that reading a quote on a slide never could.

What’s more, people’s ease and familiarity now with capturing video on smartphones, mobiles and digital cameras, has created incredible opportunities for you to get closer than ever to the moments that matter in people’s lives. There are over a billion smartphones in the world now, and that figure is rising rapidly. With new wearable recording technologies like Google Glass emerging too, discovering and presenting insights with video is only going to become easier and richer for researchers.

However, there are a number of important things to bear in mind to get the best videos in your research project.

1. Don’t underestimate the time it takes

Video demands more of your participants. It can take far longer to create a video that people are happy to share, and are of a quality that you’d want to see, than it does to write a comment. It also takes far longer than you might think to upload that video to the internet. A useful guide is that a 1 minute video recorded on an iPhone 4 will take half an hour to upload on an average Wi-Fi connection.
Furthermore, it demands more of your time too though. Watching videos takes longer than reading comments and this should be factored into your moderation time and costs.

2. Get recruitment right

As always, good recruitment reaps rewards. Whilst people are becoming more and more experienced with recording and uploading videos, you certainly can’t assume anything. If getting lots of great video content is key to the success of your project, (either in your eyes or for client’s eyes) then you must find participants who:

  • Are comfortable talking to camera and/ or narrating their experiences.
  • Have uploaded videos to the internet before. In mobile enabled projects this should apply to uploading videos from their smartphone

3. Allow participants to express themselves in the best way they can

If video content is a bonus rather than an integral part of your project, then treat it that way. If you haven’t strictly enforced the recruitment spec above, or some people have clearly slipped through in the process, then don’t try and force everyone to do them. Some people hate filming themselves. Some people will always express themselves better in writing. Letting them engage in the way they are happiest with will help them and you get the most out of it. If you try and push too hard you will risk frustrating participants and seeing them disengage from the project.

4. Give clear instructions – then give them again

We find it’s really helpful, right from the start of the project, to give good instructions on what you expect from people’s videos. Leading by example is the best way – recording a video of yourself, illustrating the kind of quality that you are looking for, works really well. It’s also a nice way to introduce yourself to your participants and help build a rapport with them. Some key things to suggest here are to keep it short and to watch it before submitting it.

Make sure you are precise in your directions. It’s also helpful to make these instructions available as a text PDF, for quick and easy reference on any device. With that done, when it comes to the questions themselves, you only need add detail relevant to each one and ideally, include a link back to the instructions.

5. An apple a day is good but a video a day is bad

Clearly this depends on your objectives and the length of your project but as a rule of thumb, asking participants to record a video each day and expecting them to engage in other conversations too, is asking a lot. So ask yourself, is video really the best way for them to respond? Will a video really add value here? Balancing this with participant engagement is essential- always err on the side of using video sparingly.

6. Present your story in video

To really get the most out of your video content, there is no substitute for a well crafted video story. Collecting the key clips from your participants and turning that footage into a short report with a strong narrative will give your debrief the greatest possible impact and see your insights turned to action. You can do this yourself for free using software packages like iMovie(Mac) or Movie Maker (PC). However, if you’d rather focus on your research and have a professional spend the time sourcing, converting, and editing, all that footage, give us a call and we can share details of our new Video Story service.

I hope this gives you some useful food for thought before your next project. If you’d like to talk it through or find out more about how participant video can add real impact to your next project, please do get in touch.


Online Qual

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