16 Ways to Generate Audience Insight

Ideas on how to collect information to generate audience insight using a number of different techniques.

These include the study of people, running focus groups, collaboration, and much more. Our goal is to build up a genuine audience insight so that our intervention makes an impact.

1. Perform an ethnographic study
This involves the study of people in their natural environment. It means analysing people’s behaviour, which can often lead to deeper insight. For example, what people tell us vs. what they actually do can be two separate things entirely. Take the Facebook warrior for example. Online they are a defender of the Earth, but in reality, they might not even recycle their rubbish. This could even be unconscious. Approaching our research through observation we can learn new and interesting facts. Often we would never have gained this insight from other research methods.

2. Online Wiki
I like this, but it requires a little management. In essence, we’re providing a space for people to build up content around an area. It could host a web survey and a blog too. But the main focus would be to encourage collaboration. And to spark interest in being part of the inputting and editorial process.

3. Create a mobile dialogue
This is ideal if you’re managing a campaign and have access to a communal space. The idea is to create a number of themes on a board. Then provide post it notes and pens. It gives those who do not have the time to provide audience insight with the opportunity to have a voice.

4. A big brother style ‘Diary room’
Getting into the places where your audience are can make a huge difference in uptake. Let’s take mothers with young children for instance. It can be quite hard to reach out to this group. They are often very busy, and kids are generally unpredictable. So setting up an interview booth in somewhere like a shopping centre is a great idea. The frequency of visitors is often high, they are likely glad of a break, and if they are out and about, why not?

5. Expert interviews
What’s great about speaking with an expert? They can quickly bring you up to speed with all the other information you might not have considered. This could include history, innovation and context. Often they are up for a chat with someone who shares a similar interest. Let’s say we wanted to research healthy food habits in primary schools. You could speak with parents, teachers, local authorities, NGOs, celebrities, even food manufacturers.

6. Create conversational starters
In an area where you’d expect a high frequency of people passing by, you may want to create a conversation starter. That is developing a number of scenarios which you could ask in order to gauge reactions. If you have made contact with some from your target audience, be open to the answers. Keep asking questions. You could make this into a game. It could lead to the generation of new ideas resulting in rapid prototyping.

7. Sit on both sides of the fence (and the middle)
If you want your solution to work for the most amount of people, then you’ll need all their views. Both the people on the fence, and those in the mainstream too. This technique is mostly used when selecting people for an interview or focus group. However, getting the views of as many people with varied opinions is a positive result.

8. Immersion
It’s a bit like ethnographic study. Instead, you gain audience insight by becoming involved in the lives and communities. It’s about hearing the voices and understanding the lives of the people we’re working with. You could shadow them, or ask them to walk you through how they make decisions.

9. Abstract inspiration
You can gain a new perspective by changing up your focus to a new context. Once you have an objective, the next step is to write down scenarios that parallel that situation. For example, if we wanted to increase collection of litter we could observe the collective behaviour of Pokemon Go activists.

10. Understand what’s important
This one is a simple concept. But it’s a goodie. This is where you give your audience a deck of cards and asked them to put them in order of importance. You could make this one more abstract too. For instance, using a deck of cards to identify value in unrelated images. For instance, asking which type of animal habitat would be suitable as a home. Or what kind of animal best represents the community need.

11. Co-create research
Instead of working under your own research biases, try working with your audience. They may see things differently. Don’t forget to provide all the support they’ll need, and you’ll learn more than you imagined.

12. Workshop ideas as part of co-create
It’s worth considering some workshop techniques you can use with a focus group. The following are perfect for an ideation stage which involves co-collaboration:

SCAMPER
This is a classic ideation technique. The name Scamper is an acronym. It uses nine different techniques to transform an idea into another. They are:

Substitute something

Combine it with something else

Adapt something to it

Modify it

Put it to some other use

Eliminate something

Reverse or rearrange it

I like this technique a lot, because it’s great for developing product ideas that might help solve our problem.

13. Get creative with a collage
This is an easy one to manage and is great when language barriers exist. This method for audience insight works well for both children or communities where you don’t speak their first language. It’s a really interesting approach. You can ask questions like, make a collage that represents taking control of your life. Or your dream job, what home should look like or a fair society. After they’ve finished have a discussion about the ideas that have come up, and use this to guide your research.

14. Do a guided tour
In some instances, you may have the opportunity to create a guided tour experience. For instance, asking a person to show you through their workplace or home. It’s possible you’ll experience different dynamics than you’re used to, like gender and cultural. Take care not to cause offence. Many even ask beforehand if you’re not sure. It works best if there’s two if you, one to talk the other to take notes. Or use a Dictaphone instead. Make observations about the space, the equipment, the walls, who uses the space and where it’s located.

Remember: ask lots of questions.

15. Draw out new ideas
Make an illustration, or ask your audience to do this. Use graphs, timelines or sketches to break down language barriers. Ask them to show you their daily routine for instance, or an aspect of their working processes.

16. Do it through play
For children, the most natural way of communicating is through play. So work to their ability. Get interactive and use scenarios with play to understand their world.