Bulletin Board Focus Groups


A bulletin board focus group is one of basic methods in online market research. The discussion is structured in a typical thread-based layout, so participants can easily follow the discussion flow and different topics. The bulletin board is a very flexible method how to collect insights. The discussion forum is an asynchronous method –  people join in regularly at their convenience according to their schedule.


Why conduct a bulletin board focus group?

If you do not need to communicate with respondents in real-time, you may consider using a discussion forum. Here are the main advantages:

More interactions among respondents
Participants can see all posts in one thread, which makes the discussion easy to follow and clear. Participants know how discussion forums work, so it’s easy for them to join the conversation.

More time for respondents
You want to give respondents enough time to think about the topic. They can connect and answer their posts and comments at a time that is convenient for them.

Easy to use
Respondents know discussion forums very well, no instructions needed. 

Focus group bulletin board

Collabito bulletin board focus group software 

Our forum discussion module is a  flexible way to collect feedback and insights. It is a one of online qual tools included in the Collabito platform. Discussion boards are suitable for activities based on interactivity between respondents.

You can combine forum discussions with other activities in Collabito. Your project can also involve a diary, poll, or even a live video focus group.

Collabito is a web-based software, you don’t need to install anything to use our platform. You and other participants only need a browser.

Study length

The project duration can vary from a few days to several months.

Number of topics

You can have one long discussion forum or many smaller discussions.

Asynchronous online discussion

Participants can log in and answer any time according to their time preference.


Mobile friendly

Respondents can connect using many devices – mobile phones, laptops, tablets.


Show or hide forums manually or automatically, based on date or completion of other tasks.

Online bulletin board software features



The threaded layout means that replies are indented like in common forums.

Likes & dislikes

Respondents and moderators can evaluate each comment.

Images, photos

People can upload  their own images.


Participants can upload their photo which will appear next to their posts.


The moderator can mark the valuable messages for his later reference.


Hide message

If somebody submits an inappropriate comment, you can easily hide it from other participants .


Emojis are available to both respondents and moderators.

User Roles


The moderator checks the discussion regularly and communicates with respondents. You can even assign more moderators to a project. 



Collabito provides an easy way for adding and managing all respondents in a project. There is also an email module for sending bulk invitations and reminders.


You can invite your clients or colleagues to observe the project. They can see the discussion, but cannot communicate with respondents.

Pros and Cons of bulletin board focus group

Advantages of bulletin board focus groups

  • Engaging conversations among respondents – sharing experience, opinions and reactions.
  • Higher number of participants possible compared to live chat – can be even hundreds of respondents.
  • The extended period of time (days to months) provides possibility to get more insights than one-time event – respondents have more time to think about the subjects and have the possibility to add more ideas later when something new comes to their mind.
  • Respondents can have multiple conversations at the same time.
  • The extended period of time provides the possibility to create  new versions of stimuli during the study.
  • If more bulletin boards are active, respondents can choose the most suitable topic according their current preference. 
  • Inexpensive setup and fieldwork.
  • No geographic and time zone barriers.
  • Easy-to-use for all focus group participants.
  • The FG transcripts are instantly available, easy to translate to any language with Google Translate or other machine translation tools. 

Disadvantages of bulletin board focus groups

  • Respondents tend to answer in short sentences, the moderator needs to encourage them to submit more detailed posts.
  • Not sure when/if the respondents comes back and submits another comment for the specific topic.
  • Higher participant drop out than in live discussions.
  • Limited ways how to express emotions (emoticons, emojis, images).
  • Sometimes, it’s necessary to remind participants to complete the post or submit comments.

Frequently asked questions

How many participants are needed for a focus group?

The typical group size of a bulletin board focus group is 15-60 respondents. It always depends on the target group, topics and other factors. Technically, you can have more or fewer people in your Collabito project.  

How long should a focus group last?

The discussion group usually takes one week or several weeks. Sometimes it can last even a month or more – bulletin board design is often used for online communities (MROC). We recommend running each discussion forum at least one or two days to reach all respondents in your study. 

Can I use multimedia in my discussion forums? 

Bulletin-board discussions are usually based on text posts and comments. On the other hand, images or videos can help increase the engagement and get much more insights from the focus group. Moderators can present stimuli in the introduction part and ask respondents to comment the video or images. Respondents can upload photos directly to the forum and share them with other participants. 

Is bulletin board research mobile friendly in Collabito?

Yes, the discussions are responsible and mobile friendly. Respondents can upload photos from their cell phones, tablets, desktops, or other devices.

How to recruit respondents to a bulletin board focus group?

You can use your own sources (customers, CRM, social media), or ask external experts to do the recruitment process. You can read more in the following article: How to recruit participants for focus groups

Personal data

We recommend using nicknames or first names instead of full names to keep the discussion anonymous. We consider the security of personal data to be very important and moderators should always keep this in mind. The system does not display respondents’ emails and their other personal data anywhere in the discussion.

Does Collabito support mobile devices?

Yes, respondents can use smartphones, tablets, laptops, or desktop computers, the software is optimized for all types of devices. In some cases, mobile phones are not suitable, for example if you need to present multimedia or small images on the whiteboard during the session.

Are bulletin board focus groups the best method for my project?

In some cases, other online qualitative methods might be better. Always consider research goals, type of respondents, time preference and other factors. If you are not sure, drop us a line and we can recommend the best approach.

What is an asynchronous online focus group?

Asynchronous online focus groups are semi-structured group discussions in the format of a virtual message board. Asynchronous means that respondents connect in different times, they are not discussing in the same time.

 How can I learn more about bulletin board focus groups?

To learn more about bulletin board focus groups, and other methods of online and offline qualitative data gathering, contact our Collabito team today.


How to successfully run an online focus group  

Here are the usual stages of planning discussion board project: 

  • Create a detailed discussion guide – what topics to cover, questions
  • Prepare stimuli – images, videos
  • Recruit respondents
  • Create a new project in Collabito, add welcome page, discussion forums, import participants
  • Test your project – log in as a respondent and check all pages. Involve your client – let him test the project, too.
  • Is everything ready to launch? Start the project and send email invitations.
  • Check the discussions regularly, comment respondent’s posts, give likes, try to engage participants to submit more insights and to interact with other people. Answer respondents’ questions. There can be more moderators in Collabito.
  • Check the activity table and send reminders to passive respondents. If necessary, add replace them with new participants.
  • Activate / schedule new topics and questions and closed completed topics or pages.
  • Combine discussion forums with polls, live chats or other activities. 
  • Prepare a Thank-you page with reward information.
  • Export the transcripts and analyze results!


Discussion forums has been used for many different types of studies. Here are several typical examples of bulletin board research conducted on our qual platform: 

  • Ideas for new products
  • Current market trends
  • How to improve current products
  • Website evaluation
  • Customer care evaluation
  • Satisfaction with company’s services
  • Concept research
  • Visit our store and share your ideas
  • and many other topics