How to: Design a Study for Socialization

How you design your study will shape how your participants are able to interact with one another, and how you moderate it will shape the volume and quality of those interactions. In this blog post, you will learn how to leverage some key features within Recollective to boost engagement in a social study.

An online social community can generate valuable insight through participant-to-participant interaction, engagement and collaboration. Empowering participants with the freedom to lead conversations, be creative, and build upon each other's ideas will give you real, candid insights into individual and group behavior.

How you design your study will shape how your participants are able to interact with one another, and how you moderate it will shape the volume and quality of those interactions. In this blog post, you will learn how to leverage some key features within Recollective to boost engagement in a social study. By the end of this article, you will know:

  • How to configure Activities and Discussions for socialization
  • Best practices for moderating social studies
  • Other tips and tricks to boost socialization

Configuring Activities and Discussions for Socialization

Response Visibility

Designing a study for socialization starts with configuring your Activities and Discussions so that responses are shared among participants. Participants can interact by liking and disliking (if given permission) or commenting on each other's responses, but only when those responses are made visible.

There are three response visibility options in Recollective:

By default, Activity responses are hidden from participants until they respond, and Discussion replies are visible immediately. Even in a social community, there might be certain questions that aren't appropriate to be shared amongst the whole group, so you have the freedom to mix and match response visibility as you see fit. Here are a few use cases for how you might apply each response visibility option:

  • Responses are visible immediately: An introduction Activity where influence and bias are not a concern. Participants might provide a few sentences about themselves with photos or videos to get to know each other and put a face to a name. Seeing other participants introductions might make them more comfortable providing additional detail.
  • Responses are hidden from participants until they respond: A brand perception Activity where you want unbiased input followed by a friendly community debate about responses.
  • No sharing of responses among participants: An Activity where participants are asked to provide sensitive or personal information.

Keep in mind, it is a good practice to alert participants at the start of the Activity as to whether or not their responses will be shared with other participants when using multiple response visibility types throughout your study.

Activity Pacing and Length

One of the best ways to promote socialization in a study is to create multiple Activities with fewer Tasks. If an Activity is very time consuming to complete, participants are less likely to want to spend additional time socializing with other participants' responses. Keep Activities concise and focused to hold your participant's attention, and release new Activities on a rolling basis to draw participants back into the community to keep the conversation going over every day of the study. You can review our Activity Design, Pacing, and Length blog for more information!

Destination Logic

By default, participants will be directed to the Activity Response Stream after they complete a socialized Activity. They will be able to see and interact with (comment, like, dislike) other participants' responses from the Response Stream.

If you want to encourage additional socialization, you can configure a Prompt Task to direct participants to the Summary Stream which will show them responses for all socialized Activities and Discussion topics. You can include instructions in the Prompt Task to inform participants that they should be interacting with each other, as well as communicate any requirements (ie. comment on at least two other responses!) You can also use destination logic to send participants to the Discussions area for further conversation.

Activity Type - Live Group Chat

The Live Group Chat Activity is often overlooked, but provides a great opportunity to encourage socialization between your participants. The Live Group Chat Activity allows you to host a live, text based chat. Get answers and opinions from participants in real time in this fast paced and interactive environment, providing participants with a social experience comparable to that of their favorite social media apps. You can read more about the benefits of the Live Group Chat Activity here.

Using Discussions

The Discussions area allows you to host unstructured forum-style conversations - which by nature are very social! You can even allow participants to start their own Discussion Topics to provide a more interactive experience. If you want to learn more about how to best make use of Discussions in your study, check out the Spotlight: Discussion Boards blog post here.

Moderating Social Studies

Enabling socialization throughout the study will not necessarily mean that participants will interact with each other. To ensure participants are actually engaging with each other, some active moderation will be required. Recollective provides many shortcuts to reduce the time spent moderating social communities, including:

Use of Mentions

Mentions is a feature that allows you to direct comments to specific participants, or groups of participants, to draw their attention to an area of the study where they can interact. This is a great way to pull new participants into an existing discussion or direct comments to individuals in a busy response thread. In case you missed it, we published an in depth article on the use of mentions which you can check out here!

Moderator Introduction

Don't forget, moderators can be social too! Include a video introduction on the Home page to break down that "researcher/respondent" relationship and welcome participants with a more conversational, intimate approach.


Recollective is designed to emulate social media, and the more opportunities you take to give participants a social media like experience, the more likely they are to treat it as such. Using fun colors and images, invoking informal language and incorporating emojis, short forms, and humor are all ways that you can make your participants feel like they have joined a community that they might otherwise have chosen to be a part of.

Other Tips and Tricks

  • Consider taking advantage of our native study Points tool and establish a minimum qualification for incentive using point tracking. Allocate points for social actions such as commenting on other's responses or contributing to discussion topics.
  • Use the Home Page to your advantage by displaying a Leaderboard when Points are enabled, linking participants to the Discussions area, and reminding them to stay active in the community by interacting on the Summary Stream. Add photos and videos to make the space fun and attractive to participants!
  • Encourage participants to upload a profile photo (Moderators should upload profile photos too!)
  • Control the tone of interactions with your choice of rating options (allow "Like" and "Dislike" ratings, only allow "Like" ratings, or disable ratings entirely.)
  • Wherever possible, choose interactive task types like the Sort and Rank or Image Review, and utilize projective techniques to uncover emotion and personality. The more fun participants are having in crafting their own responses, the more likely they are to want to engage with each other.

Study design and active moderation will be the main factors contributing to the success of a social community. By configuring Activities and Discussions to be social, giving participants a social media style experience, and encouraging interaction throughout the study, you will be able to gain valuable insight from not only the questions you ask but the natural conversations between participants.

Sam MacDonald
Associate Product Manager

Let's research happy together