For the Love of Money? Motivation and engagement in Online Research Communities

A study of motivational drivers to move beyond transactional relationships and towards meaningful research insights.

The traditional pay-for-participation methods used in online research have built the impression that people only participate in research studies for monetary rewards (extrinsic motivations). This is not the case: there are, in fact, a range of intrinsic motivations at play for many respondents who wish to voice their opinion, help others, or participate for enjoyment and interest. Rewards can even have an adverse effect when applied wrongly.

The growth of Online Research Communities as a way for businesses to gain insights raises the question of how to best manage these communities and ensure members are engaged. Identifying the intrinsic and extrinsic motivations present in a range of online communities and assessing the effects they have on the quality and quantity of responses is the starting point here.

This white paper presents Ipsos’ point of view and recommendations on how to build and manage successful and vibrant Online Research Communities, based on both academic evidence and Ipsos’ own ‘research on research’.

We believe that tapping into intrinsic motivations is crucial to drive meaningful insights. Monetary rewards should play a secondary role, as part of a broader engagement mix.

Managing effective Online Research Communities requires intrinsic motivations to be front-and-centre. It is about recognising achievements, allowing progress, and letting members know that their voice can and does influence the client/partner and, by extension, market and society.