There are several types of online focus groups. Synchronous groups are conducted at a pre-determined date and time and are similar to a live chat session. Asynchronous groups are conducted over a period of time, often three to five days, in an online discussion bulletin board format. In this format, participants can log on anytime of day or night to participate at their convenience. Different stimuli can be loaded on to the board for participants to view and react to. Responses to questions take the form of an easy-to-use threaded discussion.

Online discussion boards can be an especially useful tool for research among geographically dispersed participants, busy professionals, homebound audiences, for sensitive health topics, and other unique situations.