Your brand or client is facing a challenge; a new product launch, product re-positioning, a disconnect between customers and team, and to solve this you need to turn to the market for new insight.

In order to truly understand the decisions customers are making throughout the user journey, you’ll use video diaries to step into their lives, feel what they feel, see what they see.

But before you start, just how do you find the the best people to talk to, within your budget?

You may be new to video surveys, you may just be looking for inspiration, either way don’t worry, the team at Verbate have put together a quick introduction to help you find the right respondents, at the right price, anywhere in the world.


Often, the most cost effective, and quick to reach network available to brands are their own customers, and even their own employees. Existing customers are already engaged with, and have some level of relationship with your brand, which you can leverage to ask for valuable feedback.


  • They are immediately available to access and chances are you already have an existing rapport with many of them.

  • Incentives to conduct research can be in the form of discounts or owned product vouchers, making this an extremely cost effective method.

  • Especially helpful if you are looking to solve challenges with existing customers such as brand perceptions or how to increase spend & activation.

  • The content you receive is an amazing resource to share with the wider team, for them to better “see” who the customer really is - ensuring your brand remains customer centric.


  • Depending on the level of engagement you have with customers, you may need to reach out to a large group to find willing respondents.

BIAS: The list may be limiting if you are looking to explore new types of customers, markets and growth channels.

Sneaking Duck, an online prescription glasses business business, wanted to break through the barrier of online interaction with customers and get to know them better. We asked a number of customer segments to tell us a bit more about themselves and why the did, or didn’t, buy from the company. The results allowed Sneaking Duck to 1. Get to know who their customers really were and how this matched up to their target profiles for marketing purposes and 2. Gather valuable insight on purchase decision drivers for their business model.

Client owned

Brand owned communities drop into two rough categories: Firstly we have social media sites owned by a brand such as Facebook pages, LinkedIn Groups and Twitter accounts. Secondly, we have forums and non social media based communities owned by the brand - such as as Kraft recipes


  • A fast and effective way to find respondents for your video research, especially if your brand is aimed at youth, has a high level of online engagement or has invested in strategic community development.

  • As with customers, incentives can be discounts, or vouchers for your own products making this very cost effective.

  • If your customer base is very niche and hard to find, this will always be the most cost effective way to reach people.

  • Communities on social media include your customers, but also non-paying interested parties, potentially giving you a more diverse reach.

  • You can target qualified people based on their profile and online activities.


  • You need an engaging hook, design and call to action to convert well.

  • If your brand does not an engaged social media presence this may not be a valid option.

Bias: Social media recruits will naturally be more tech savvy, and online focused - this of course can be a good thing.

An agency client recruited for two projects using the client brand’s (Kids clothing and women’s fashion retailers) social media platforms. Simple but well designed recruitment calls were posted on Facebook and Twitter - both received at least 4x the target (50-70 participants) in the first hour. As an additional benefit respondents were incentivised with vouchers, increasing the cost effectiveness of the recruit.

Title 3

There are many standalone communities that can potentially be leveraged, depending on the nature of your research and target segment. For B2B research there are a wide range of well populated LinkedIn groups. For example - if you were looking to speak with Sales execs then this group of 270K plus potential candidates might help!

On the consumer side bloggers can access large audiences with specific interests, usually with a little incentivisation themselves! If you are after moms then Mommy Bloggers are a great place to start - there are even communities of bloggers themselves. Some other potential avenues are Vloggers, and communities built up around specialist interests like motor vehicles, sports or even just being at school/university. The groups can be quite specialised so use will depend on the research topic. In addition these communities can be closely curated - so best practice is to always approach the group administrators for permission as a first step.


  • Respondents are more engaged as they tend to join the online communities voluntarily.

  • Much more diverse group of individuals, often made up mostly of potential customers, which provides great potential reach.


  • There will be a cost to incentivise the respondents and often the community manager / team in addition. Though this still can work out to be less than a traditional pp cost.

  • Results can vary - build up a rapport with the community managers and take their advice on what will work best for their audience.

  • Make sure that your posts and messaging are on track. You may need to build up kudos within the community itself too before your posts will be taken seriously ie. This is particularly true with communities like Reddit - though the upside is an almost endless spectrum of forums, catering to almost every interest under the sun.

“We helped a client recruit mothers for a global pitch through mommy bloggers in 8 different countries. Bloggers were engaged and passed on our invitation to take part in the project to their audience. We were oversubscribed quickly, even in some Asian countries where recruitment is challenging or expensive through traditional channels”

Title 4

A staple source of respondents for the the market research industry, panels are large databases of people who have, at some point, opted in to take part in surveys and sometimes other form of market research such as focus groups. Panel companies own and manage these networks, offering various incentives to ensure their panels are engaged and highly responsive.


  • Respondents are pre-recruited & profiled, enabling you to narrow down your search quickly and effectively.

  • It’s a convenient way to obtain a large number of respondents over a short period of time, with the ability to capture some quant data along with the video.

  • Large, multi-national companies can have millions of member respondents worldwide, while specialist panels companies may focus on specific regions like Asia, Middle East, or Australia and New Zealand.


  • Set up costs and PM fees mean that panels are suited to large numbers of respondents to be really cost effective.

  • Many panels offer micro-payments to respondents, which can lead to less engaged / lower quality respondents. There are great respondents too, but our advice is to recruit 2x the number you need in order to ensure quality (much more apparent on video than anything else).

BIAS: Respondents are incentivised to complete the survey, they might answer survey questions based on what they think will yield more rewards

We helped a client crash recruit 100 women from a panel to answer a few questions on their view of concept of beauty in the modern world, and how it’s portrayed in the media in relation to cosmetic products. Participants were passed from the panel provider directly to our system and the whole project turned around within 4 days.

We have a blog devoted to panels on the way which should be out in the next month or two.

Title 5

Qualitative recruitment companies specialise in identifying and locating individual respondents suited to your needs and are the traditional source for research respondents. Recruitment is more hands on often with screening over the phone enabling recruiters to build rapport and communicate specialised instructions for the tasks.

Traditionally used to find recruits for focus groups & one to one interviews, we now work with qualitative recruiters in 80 countries globally to find the most engaged respondents.


  • Very engaged, high quality respondents, and the ability to replace respondents who do not meet expectations.

  • The best to use for multi day diaries and extended research.

  • Works for small - mid numbers of respondents. About half of qualitative recruiters don’t charge setup / PM fees.

  • Generally can find more niche respondents.


  • The most expensive cost per recruit - made up of a recruit fee + the respondents’ incentive.

  • Can be slower than other methods depending on the recruitment teams bandwidth - but if you are after a fast recruit talk to us and we can leverage our partner networks.

Verbate is primarily a qualitative research platform - so we see a lot of participants recruited by these organisations all over the world. We have contacts in a number of countries so if you need an introduction please let us know!

Title 6

Sometimes the best way to recruit your respondents is to go where they are. This is especially true if you have passive, location dependent (such as a shopping mall), or hard-to-reach audiences such as business commuters.

Intercept involves sending promo-staff to specific locations, armed with smartphones and our intercept app. These staff stop people as they pass by, offer a small incentive such as a cinema ticket, to answer 3-5 questions on smartphone camera.


  • So cost effective. Promo staff are normally $30 / £20 an hour, and in 3 hours can normally gather insights from 15 - 30 people each. Movie tickets, or coffees as incentives are common.

  • Reach people you can reach at significant cost such as business commuters.

  • Ensure the insight literally is “in the moment” i.e. talk to shoppers in the shop.

  • Show and share visual assets such as packaging & positioning statements to get instantaneous feedback.


  • The staff filming need to be engaging to gather a good number of responses. Good promo agencies can help here.

  • Proper planning may be required to make sure you can build rapport quickly to conduct your survey. Use the right incentive.

BIAS: Remember that communities vary from location to location. A business commuter on Oxford street in London will be different to a business commuter in Leeds.

We helped an agency gather feedback on potential packaging redesigns for a local independent supermarket chain. Using two promo-staff and cinema vouchers we collected feedback from over 40 people in an hour on a range of new packaging for popular products. The agency loved the efficiency of the method and the client appreciated feedback from their own customers, in store.

Still not sure the best place to start? We are always available to share best practice, link you with partners and even help you manage the entire recruitment process. Talk to Grant in Sydney or Oli in London and let us suggest the most effective strategy for your requirements.