According to the 2015 Sensis report, 49% of Australians who access social networking sites do so everyday. It would be unwise of marketers and market researchers to disregard this statistic when considering how to reach consumers. Social media is an unprecedented market research tool; not only do consumers readily volunteer information, but it provides a means of directly contacting them in order to gain more insight.
Monash’s very own Torgeir Aleti and other researchers considered this when undertaking their study. In order to better understand the drinking behaviours of Australians, they devised a method whereby they monitored Twitter for users who used certain alcohol-related hashtags and then directly tweeted them, asking for their participation in a survey in exchange for a $10 Amazon.com voucher.
Many unexpected issues stemmed from this method:
- The researchers found that users were completing the survey more than once as a means of “gaming the system to reap the benefits”.
- Given the answers were to be written as free-form rather than restricted responses such as a Likert scale, answers were often copy-paste and were not relevant to the study, thus rendering them unusable.
- Twitter is a public platform; as such, users from America and China were found to be participating in the study when only Australian responses were required
- Aleti had his Twitter account suspended several times due to spamming concerns from Twitter’s automated enforcement team
However, this is not to say that distributing surveys on social media is entirely ineffective. Consider the following positives:
- Once the researchers refined their survey, they received significantly more quality responses from their target market
- 68% of Internet users access social media sites; this provides the potential to reach a large number of Australians quicker and more efficiently than traditional means of distributing surveys
- Responses, when genuine, are received as soon as the respondent has completed the survey
- Distributing surveys via social media is cheaper than alternative means
So what do you think? Does distributing surveys via social media help or hinder studies? Let me know!