Front Porch Forum (Online Communities)

Front Porch Forum (Online Communities)

What are Front Porch Forums?

Create conversations among you and your membership using Front Porch Forums.  A Front Porch Forum utilizes an emerging qualitative research methodology called a marketing research online community. It is an interactive, invite-only online space for your co-op members to engage with each other, mixing attributes of traditional focus groups and social networking apps.

A Front Porch Forum is the ideal platform for gathering insights, attitudes, and opinions from a small segment of members through organic conversation in a moderated setting. These conversations originate in much the same fashion as they do on social networking sites such as Facebook and LinkedIn. This type of attitude-oriented feedback is unique, and not easily collected with traditional survey methods.

Front Porch Forum technology allows users the ability to complete the study using a variety of devices including desktop PCs, laptops, tablet computers and smart phones.  The methodology makes it extremely easy and flexible for the member to interact with the study. Online participants can be shown photos, videos or be directed to visit a website for review and discussion.  Cooperatives can share images of newsletters, webpages, etc. to members for their review and commentary.  This interactive, cutting-edge qualitative research tool positions a cooperative’s membership as an essential partner in developing and executing organizational strategy.


The Value of Front Porch Forums.

Forums are a platform for…

  • Gathering insights, attitudes, and opinions from a small segment of members through organic conversation in a moderated setting.
  • Positioning the membership as an essential and effective partner.
  • Guiding in the development of the marketing of new products and services and other cooperative initiatives.
  • Providing advice to the Board and Executive Staff on new ideas, approaches, and programs; on how to best meet the needs of the members.

A forum is not a platform for…

  • Surveying the entire membership.
  • Developing a numeric customer satisfaction score.

Endless topics to explore!

Cooperatives can incorporate a wide range of topics into the activities and contents of a Front Porch Forum. Some topics to address are as follows:

  • Perceptions of the cooperative’s performance
  • Awareness and effectiveness of the communication to members
  • Member perception of good value
  • Impressions of customer service and member satisfaction
  • Interest in renewable energy programs and smart home technologies
  • Ease-of-use analysis of new website or billing portal
  • Content and messaging retention
  • Media preferences for communication
  • Interest and awareness in cooperative programs
  • Billing statement comparisons

How does it work?

  • The forum’s platform is an easy-to-use online site similar to social media platforms such as Facebook.
  • A forum has two components:
    • Survey tasks that collect both quantitative and qualitative insights.
    • A discussion board where members can converse about topics moderated by TSE Services.
  • A forum lasts about 1 week and will have between 50-75 members participating. Members do not all need to be online at the same time.
  • TSE Services recommends incentives for participating members. The most common incentive is a small, one-time bill credit ranging from $15-$25.
  • Upon completion of the forum, TSE Services will provide a detailed Executive Summary report of the findings.

Front Porch Forum Features

Traditional Survey Methods – Quantitative

  • Poll questions
  • Grid questions
  • Open-ended text response questions

Non-traditional Survey Methods - Qualitative

  • Image markups and annotation
  • Video reviews
  • Ranking/sorting preferences
  • Discussion board topics
  • Private messages and inbox for moderator and participant communication