Getting feedback is a must have step for many projects now. Collecting data from your target audience or customer base reduces risk and encourages sensible business decisions. Whilst there are a variety of online survey tools available, social media surveys are becoming more popular. So, in this article, I explore if social media surveys should be part of the project manager’s arsenal of tools – or not.
Last week, I looked at the online survey tools available, in particular, SurveyMonkey, SurveyGizmo, and through social media. I asked the question: “Which survey tool do you prefer?”
- A: SurveyMonkey
- B: SurveyGizmo
- C: Social media
- D: Something else
The links to the live surveys are here:
And the survey said…
Firstly, there was an overwhelming preference for SurveyMonkey. Particularly on LinkedIn where I basically saw a 100% response!
However, this was actually my first outing using this sort of survey and it left me with more than just the answer to the question about which online survey tool they preferred. The key questions or considerations it left me with were:
- Does it encourage people to people to vote in the same way and will they be honest?
- Do you get a spread of people?
- How quickly will this work?
At the end of the day, the ultimate question is: should you use social media surveys to canvas opinion?
Social media surveys were not as instant or far reaching as I was expecting
Social media is famed for getting a quick response. That “viral” opportunity is there where you could quickly canvas a range of options.
Now, my surveys got nowhere near viral, staying well within my network. To be honest, I was expecting more response that I received – especially on Twitter! This raises a concern that any particular feedback will be from a fairly narrow demographic or tribe. People are likely to be like minded or have shared values or opinions. Useful for getting an honest and equal response? Not so much.
But I was also expecting to get a faster answer. Answers were taking about 2 days to come in. In my opinion, this is no faster than running a more in depth SurveyMonkey / SurveyGizmo trial.
However, this does not mean that they are not useful. Recognise that you are going to get a response from your network. Also, don’t expect to be getting an instant answer.
You can offset this by putting some advertising budget to promote your tweet, poll or post. This will help get a wider demographic and extend the reach significantly.
Answering a question is sharing your opinion (with everybody!)
When you answer a survey on social media, you are making everyone aware of your answer. You are making a statement for everyone to see. So for any particularly contentious issues, you’ll either never inspire people to answer. Or you’ll get people answering a choice because that’s what they’re expected to do. Friends, family, peers, bosses would all potentially see this, so it has to be the “right” answer.
So, imagine if you were to poll a big contentious and political question. Would you get the same answer as a private ballot? Of course not. People would not want to respond or would not respond truthfully.
So, as you ask a question on social media, would you elicit the truthful response or would you encourage a “should-be-most-popular” vote?
Trust issues for survey links
“Don’t like any approach (e.g., google form) where it can be hard to trust if you don’t know the sender”
That was one response which interested me. With so many scams out there on the internet, it’s clear that some people are getting more nervous of sharing or engaging with unknown people. In this post-GDPR world, it’s clear that some are rightfully taking privacy more seriously. In turn, it raises a question about effectiveness of clicks on your survey link.
So, in that respect, simply answering a question on social media is less daunting. You stay in the safety of the known platform.
Recognised brands will help to build trust. But even then I could imagine that there will be suspicious people out there, wondering if this is just a hacked account.
No analytics, so you must manually tally up
Whilst it seems fairly obvious, a simple social media post (as I did) does not have any in built analytics. This could become a problem if you do get a lot of responses and particularly if there is a close response rate against multiple answers. Also, if you’re working across multiple platforms, there is no easy way of combining the answers.
You’d need to sit loading up all of the comments and recording the data in another tool. This could take ages and there is no clear way of confirming which ones you’ve recorded and which ones you haven’t.
If you wanted to re-post the question multiple times to increase exposure, the responses each need to be reviewed and you need a way to avoid double counting any over enthusiastic people.
Twitter have released a polls feature which would help. Facebook also have one but LinkedIn don’t (at the time of writing at least).
The bottom line – using social media surveys effectively
Social media surveys can be useful. However, there is a time and a place for them. They must be not too personal and non-contentious topics. You must allow time to collect the data and analyse it. Plus, you must imagine what response rates you need to make a decision. Finally, you must consider if you will adopt a free, unpredictable approach or if you will pay to promote via ads.
Social media surveys can be useful but I don’t think they should form part of a project manager’s toolkit. What do you think? Vote below in the comments 😉
About the Author
Oliver Banks is an expert at delivering retail change projects and programmes. He’s consulted and advised on the integration of retail operations before and knows the type of challenges they present. When taking these on, he blends classic project management techniques from PRINCE2, PMBOK and Lean Six Sigma with a dose of pragmatism and business reality to ensure these important retail projects are led, managed and delivered successfully.