Imagine this: You’re in school, your professor has just assigned a project requiring you to collect some non-scientific data from a large group of people, but you have to find these people yourself. Only problem is, you don’t have a loyal army of potential respondents following you around ready to jump at the opportunity to answer survey questions… or do you?

With millions of people accessing them every day, social media sites like Twitter and Facebook are perfect outlets for conducting casual research. Your friends and followers are now potential candidates for your research!

Here are a few things to focus on when trying to use social media for your project.

1. Mind your manners – The value of politely phrased questions cannot be overstated.

  • Always be polite when reaching out to the public even if it just means including your standard “please and thank you”
  • Remember that participants will be doing you a favor

2. Entice your audience

  • Let the people helping you know that they are getting something from the experience, even if it is your undying gratitude – make them want to help!

3. Follow the rules

  • Be honest about why you are conducting the research

  1. Why are you collecting this information
  2. Why do you need these specific participants
  3. What is your research being used for

  • Any data collected without some type of informed consent can be discounted if it is not obtained in a way that is considered appropriate

Congratulations, you are now ready to get out there and unleash your informal survey on the world! But before you do, let us know, have you ever had to conduct online research before? What are some other tips you might have that we haven’t already included?