Social Media offers a massive pool of individuals and potential survey respondents for researchers to tap into. Be it on Twitter, Facebook, Linked In, Tumblr or any other social networking site, millions of people are just a click away.
However, for all of the useful and well meaning content on these sites, there’s even more spam and junk mail, and users are becoming better and better at cutting through the clutter every day. Simply sending a message to a person will no longer get you noticed. In fact, if they don’t know you, you’ll most likely be ignored and marked as spam.
This doesn’t mean that you should avoid social media when distributing your survey. To the contrary. You simply have to be smart with your strategy.
Here are some tips on how to effectively utilize social media to gather some great responses to your survey!
1. Avoid Bots: Who hasn’t received a generic message from someone they didn’t know asking them to complete a survey? And who hasn’t noticed that person sending the same exact message to hundreds of other users? It happens all the time, and it’s easy to spot. If you use a bot, people are much more likely to block/report you as spam than they are to complete your survey. Not only will you annoy users and not get responses, you also run the risk of having your account suspended for misuse.
2. Personalize Messages: If you take the time to personalize your messages, they’re much more likely to be read. Address each individual by name, and thank them for taking the time to read what you have to say. Such an approach will be more time consuming, but it’ll also be more appreciated and effective. Politeness and sincerity go a long way, even in online mediums.
3. Make it Relevant: Make sure your survey is relevant to the people you’re messaging! If you’re doing a survey about raising children, don’t send an invite to a 16 year old male. You’ll just waste time and once again, risk being marked as spam. On Twitter, make use of hash tags to search for individuals who are interested in the topic you’re researching. On Facebook and Linked In, search for common interests. Don’t waste your time messaging individuals who can’t add useful feedback.
4. Be Up Front: Be crystal clear in your subject line and message. Tell the individual the survey name, the topic, the reason behind the research, etc, and make sure to list the time requirements for the survey. This will make sure that the respondent knows what they’re getting into and will provide the best feedback possible without quitting half way through because they were told a 150 question survey would take 5 minutes. Misleading respondents could lead to incomplete responses and damaged reputations.
5. Build and Make Use of Relationships: This is absolutely crucial! Surveys and the pursuit of feedback should only be a small part of your social media strategy. If you first get to know your audience and become trusted in your online community, you’ll be much more likely to receive help and feedback when you ask for it. If your Twitter feed is empty, except for when you need something from users, you won’t get many results. But if you maintain an ongoing presence and dialogue, you’ll build great relationships and a strong reputation that you’ll be able to benefit from when the need arises.