With the explosion of internet usage globally, it was inevitable that surveys would eventually utilize the online medium to capture required data. The advent of Facebook and Twitter, has further resulted in a paradigm shift – it is now easier to find people on Facebook/ twitter than at a park (base on our informal observations). With smartphones as well, people now have access to all their social media and email messages instantly. It is because of this, why many researchers have opted for the online route to garner and sometimes cajole responses from online users. In the process of collecting data online however, one should be aware of the following:
Some Advantages of online surveys:
1. You can do it yourself! Yes you can! It is really really simple.
2. It cost significantly less – doesn’t require large sums to execute your data collection and entry
3. Diverse distribution channels – survey can be accessed via email, facebook, twitter and on a website. You are allowed to question the people you wouldn’t meet in the park!
4. Convenience – respondents (people completing the questionnaires) have autonomy over time and place where they choose to answer survey questions.
Some Dis-advantages of online surveys:
1. Low response rate – people have friends to talk to, pictures to see, who has time to answer questions?
Possible Solution: People respond to incentives, so ensure as an order of priority that there is a ‘good enough carrot to entice the rabbit’. There needs to be an opportunity to win something special e.g Iphone or a gift certificate
2. Sample not representative – this is especially true when you’re distributing a survey on facebook/ twitter. You have no control over who is answering. You might want only Jamaicans, or persons within a specified age group who are Jamaicans! The fact remains that people outside your specified demography can and will answer your survey – especially when there is a good prize to be won.
Possible Solution: only distribute general surveys on Facebook/ Twitter, where the demographics of the sample is of little significance.
3. Missed deadlines – since people have complete autonomy as to when and where to answer your survey, the responses might be slow in coming, which might delay your entire project.
Possible Solution: In the case where you have an email listing – follow up emails and possibly phone calls would be appropriate to remind persons to complete survey.
In the case of twitter/ facebook – it would boil down to an incentive issue again! Where early respondents would be better place to win, or something special (similar to ladies free before 12pm).
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