It’s no secret that listening is important. Coaches will tell you, listening is one of the foundational skills of successful people, and here at Klick it is an essential practice to assess business needs. Earlier this year, the Klick Social team was asked to gather insights on the patient journey for individuals diagnosed with a painful inflammatory condition.
The problem? The condition was rare. Medical journals on the subject estimated that there were around 150,000 cases of it in the US per year, just 50 cases per 100,000 persons.
It’s a rare group.
Typically, when our team conducts a social listening exercise, we audit 12 months of online dialogue through Sysomos, scraping hundred of thousands of conversations to glean qualitative and quantitative insights. For this listening project, the conversations were too small, and their quality was suspect. We had to find another way. We quickly discovered that meaningful, qualitative conversations about this condition were migrating from public forums (where we could scrape data) to closed groups in walled gardens, like Facebook (where we couldn’t). There simply weren’t enough publically available conversations to glean meaningful insights.
The solution? Ask to be let into the walled gardens.
We found a handful of condition-centric closed groups on Facebook with membership ranging from 1,000 to 8,000 members and requested to join. The pages then required us to answer some form of the question, “Why do you want to join this group?”
We didn’t know how the groups would react once they learned we did not have the condition, but were hopeful that they would want to help us better understand the patient journey for the purposes of research.
The result: Most of the groups let us in.
Once we were granted access, we continued to be transparent about our intentions when interacting with group members, careful not to step on any toes, and always respecting the community guidelines.
One thing we didn’t expect was how happy members of these groups were to participate when we asked them for their input. Over the span of two weeks, we posed a handful of questions to the community and received amazing feedback from these extremely rare patients. They shared meaningful, qualitative insights into how they managed their condition, their patient journeys, diets, and paths to diagnosis.
So the next time you want to approach and engage with closed groups.
- Be clear and upfront about your intentions.
- Respect the community guidelines.
- Be open about your intentions when interacting with the community.
- Your mileage may vary.
Pairing these insights with what we learned from Sysomos, we were able to create a very strong foundation for this social listening project.
And all we had to do was ask.