The other day Steven Hodson wrote a post on the Inquistr that opined that Twitter could generate revenue through one big focus group. I like Hodson, who also writes the thought-provoking WinExtra, but I disagreed that Twitter was the place for focus groups.
As I wrote my response as to why, I realized that FriendFeed was the ideal environment for focus groups. I could even envision a new green FriendFeed icon to denote a sponsored conversation.
FriendFeed Focus Groups
Focus groups are conversational, which is exactly where FriendFeed excels. A typical focus group will have a moderator who will pose questions and follow-up to gain additional insight into the participant's response.
For example, a focus group moderator might ask you to tell them what animal best represents a specific car. The moderator will likely be able to understand the categorization but might want to follow-up to ensure they understand why you chose to associate, say, a Hummer with a Hippopotamus.
These focus groups are already taking place - naturally - on FriendFeed. Conversations about different cameras and different phones. Discussions about music, books and movies. Debates between Mac and Windows enthusiasts. FriendFeed fosters this type of robust interaction where details and nuances are often revealed.
What about demographics?
The part that's missing are the demographics. It's missing from Twitter too. Facebook seems to be banking on the demographic targeting capability. Many companies do want to ensure they have the right sample and a good cross-section of users. Perhaps FriendFeed could present a small lightbox form to users prior to commenting on a sponsored conversation?
What about psychographics?
Then again, many companies put more stock into psychographics. Who exactly are these people? What do they like? Do they travel? Where do they go out to dinner? What do they read? What are their interests? This is where FriendFeed - again - provides added value.
Moderators would have access to the feeds or lifestreams of participants. The amount of data for each participant would clearly vary depending on the number and variety of services each fed into FriendFeed. Some might be limited but others would provide bonanza of data.
Imagine Netflix, GoodReads, YouTube, Google Shared Stuff, Amazon, Last.fm, LinkedIn, Delicious and even BrightKite. Talk about building a profile on potential customers! And could FriendFeed provide an abstract of each participant? A digest profile for each participant on a sponsored conversation?
Would it be interesting for marketers to see not only what each participant fed, but what they liked as well? Or a keyword (or other) analysis on their comments? The degree of interaction, variety of content and abundance of text make FriendFeed an interesting and dynamic data hub.
The right kind of engagement
Twitter simply does not support real conversations. It was built as a status update service (and it performs that service well.) Facebook often creates conversations but those conversations are both asynchronous (wall post time lag) and seem to be less topical and more personal in nature.
FriendFeed, by comparison, is built for conversation around topical content. It fosters the exact type of engagement savvy marketers crave.
What do you think. Will we see green FriendFeed icons and sponsored conversations?