Discussions 101 - Discussion Boards & Forums

Sometimes your team will need the qualitative data found in focus groups but cannot get community members to meet at the same time. If that is the case, the Discussion activity type can help your team in accomplishing this feat. Discussions can simulate a focus group without the block of time needed to conduct one, by allowing for open-ended questions to be posed that community members can answer on their own time, as well as allow for follow-ups and member-to-member interaction.

What are Discussions?

Discussions take place in the community’s discussion forum and allows for members to answer the prompt in their own words. There are three modes to which a discussion can be set and each has a different way others’ responses can be viewed:

-       Public: Members can see both the topic prompt and other members’ responses before posting. They can therefore reply to both members’ posts or the prompt.

-       Respond-first: Members must post a reply to the topic prompt before being able to see others’ responses. They are then able to respond to the other posts in the forum.

-       Journal: A private response to the prompt. Only the moderator can see other members’ posts. Moderators can ask individuals follow-up questions to their own posts.

In public and respond-first modes, members are able to generate their own discussion topics within the forums that can provide insightful information that may not have presented itself otherwise.


A journal is not its own activity but has the option of either using discussions or surveys. When these activities are set to journal mode, members can take the same survey repeatedly and/or share their thoughts and ideas without other members’ influence. For discussions, journals are useful in situations where members need to write multiple times about the same topic, similar to an in-depth interview.

What can Discussions be used for?

Qualitative Research - Discussions can be used to find qualitative information that could need clarification/follow up. One good way to do so is to use public or respond-first mode to have members introduce themselves early on in the community to establish some morality and initial engagement. Keyword reports for these can be used for active listening to unguided discussion.


Home Use Testing - Another way to utilize Discussions could be to create a dialogue before a Home Use Test (HUT) to build up excitement.


Product Research - Discussions can also be used to discover member’s issues or concerns with products, member’s daily habits or problems that they face with other brands.


To learn more about Discussions, click here to schedule a demo.


Posted by Liza Armstrong

Liza is an associate member of our Marketing team. She is skilled in content creation, data analysis, and research.