Summer Project

This summer we asked everyone in the team to pitch ideas for quick, finite, projects.  They had to:

  1. Support at least one of the org’s strategic aims
  2. “Change, create and innovate” (Ian likes a nice cheesy slogan.)

Which is why I am currently pulling together a focus group of 14-17 year olds so that we can consult them on what is cool.

Probably not the word ‘cool’ as another colleague has already pointed out.

The idea is to showcase academic knowledge and expertise, thus proving that we are a ‘proper university’ through quick and dirty films to upload on You Tube.

So far, so good.  The info has to be visual, that’s a given.  But it also has to be something forwardable, blogable, viral.  And that’s where our teen consultants will hopefully come in (we are sweetening the deal by offering training and participation in production if they are interested).

We want the films to be facebooked, myspaced, bebo-ed, forwarded and whatever else they get up to.  But they have to be good enough – otherwise we look like a try-too-hard uncle.

Doing well on recruitment – but borderline terrified about what to do with 10-15 teens when I get them here.  So – this is a brainstorm.

  1. Get them to show us the best that are currently doing the rounds and explain why they are good.
  2. Present them with a set of suggestions and allow them to sneer at them.
  3. Ask them to check out the closest competition – Warwick iCast / Research-TV / OU on You Tube and spot trends
  4. Try and come up with a recipe
    1. Subject matter
    2. Style of filming
    3. USP: Funny/ shocking/ gross?
  5. Find out what tools they use – build a list
  6. Find out their interests – build a list
  7. What courses they’d be potentially interested in studying – build a list

And – a vital top tip have a chat to myt friends with teenagers – find out the best way of getting the best out of them.

Matt – over to you?

Edit: 12:35, 11/8/08

Mat says:

I think the list is mostly right.  I’d also like to know


·         How they browse – what’s the first thing they log into?   How long do they spend on certain sites?

·         What’s the most popular system/sites amongst their friends? 

·         Do they care about quality?

·         Coming from different places/schools, do they have the same browsing trends and expectations across the board?   

·         Do things appeal more to boys or girls?  Do we have an even split of boys and girls attending?


I’d like suggestions from them based on topics we give them. 

So, it looks like the focus group will be Wed 20th or Wed 27th….

5 Responses to “Summer Project”
  1. The Happy Housewife says:

    Hi Casey! Thanks for dropping by. It was lovely to hear from you. By the way, here in our small corner of Oxfordshire the teenagers say “hot” to mean “cool” – which tempts me to talk about climate change…

  2. CK says:

    All looks good to me. I’m sure whilst chatting to them we’ll extract more info about their net habits!

  3. Max Hammond says:

    Hi Casey,

    Sounds like fun!

    Running focus groups is hard work, and with teenagers it can be like pulling teeth – not that I’m trying to put you off 😉

    You have a lot of things on your list – I think that you’ll find that a focus group of 1.5h is a maximum for useful engagement, and you’ll spend 45 mins establishing a decent conversation.

    Focus group of 10 – just about manageable. 15 – not unless you have them broken into sub-groups. How many moderators do you have, and how much experience do they have?

    Do you really want a focus group, or do you want a range of people’s different opinions? Focus groups usually descend into “group-think”, so we typically wouldn’t want to run fewer than 4 separate groups, 6 is better if you want a broader range of ideas. Obviously, it depends on how segmented your market is and what your budget is. I don’t know what your recruitment strategy is, but beware of a self-selection bias in attendees. You might get the creatives who are motivated by the video production, rather than the other 95% who make up your target audience. Their views might not coincide very well.

    If you present them with ideas early in the process you are very likely to constrain their thinking. Ideas need to be concrete if you want a real sense of the response – quite the opposite to exploratory questions which make up most of a focus group.

    Points 5, 6 and 7 – you might be able to get a sense for this, but it won’t be comprehensive or representative of the entire population. If you ask what people use, you’ll either find that everybody uses the same things, or start a discussion. Focus groups don’t – in my experience – provide the right forum for this kind of thing. Ranking exercises, perhaps – but you’ve got to know what you want from that.

    Mystic Max Predicts (based on a series of focus groups I commissioned on internet use by HE and FE students):

    How they browse – what’s the first thing they log into? How long do they spend on certain sites?

    Google is the source of all knowledge. Loyalty to other sites is typically very low – they’ll have a few strong favourites (below), but beyond that, Google is the internet.

    – What’s the most popular system/sites amongst their friends?

    Google, YouTube and Facebook or Myspace.

    – Do they care about quality?

    They are unlikely to have a strong concept of this, or a definition which is defined well enough to answer. You’ll need proxies for it, or examples of it.

    – Coming from different places/schools, do they have the same browsing trends and expectations across the board?

    Your sample is too small to answer this, and the format doesn’t allow for it. There are enclaves who prefer Facebook or Myspace, based on what the majority of their friendship group use.

    – Do things appeal more to boys or girls? Do we have an even split of boys and girls attending?

    Yes – but in a group of this nature you won’t be able to really get to grips with the nature of the differences. An even split isn’t so important – but for the love of god don’t try an all-boys group.

    If you’re interested, I can put you in touch with a company I’ve worked with who have excellent experience in the education sector (and much wider, as it goes) – drop me an email.

    Good luck 🙂

  4. JoshWink says:

    Oh, Thanks! Really funny. Big ups!

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