Wednesday, 19 December 2007
Recruiting and Incentivising using Social Networks
Last week, Ray Poynter's blog had a post on Peanut Labs introducing their cooperation with Facebook. This week, the US based AdvertisingAge Magazine published an online article featuring Peanut Labs in which it addresses the growing relationship between online research and using social networking websites as sample sources. Some companies started to use social network sites like FaceBook as a sample source for recruiting panellists or for real-time sampling: recruiting "on the fly". Virtual Currency to Reduce Professional Respondents Their article of December 17th, "Web Research Could Gain Clout Via Virtual Currency" a new start-up company Peanut Labs is introduced. Peanut Labs is an online market research network backed by the investors of Skype, Yahoo and Delicious. The company recruits members of social-networking sites to take surveys. By paying their respondents in the virtual currencies of their respective sites, Peanut Labs is producing response rates of 29% in the US. According to their CEO Murtaza Hussain, they offer a solution for some of today's issues in the market research industry. Offering cash for incentives has proven a real problem for the industry, helping breed professional respondents and incentives for people to cheat so they can qualify for cash payments, next to this it gets expensive to pay hundreds or thousands of people real money to take each survey. Because virtual currency is considerably cheaper than the real stuff, research firms and marketers can afford to shell it out liberally, even to people who don't make it through a survey's screening questions or just to keep people involved with a panel between surveys. Real-Time sampling and Recruiting via Social Networks Some US research companies now started to recruit on Facebook: Focus Groups, but also some of the bigger MR firms offer a registration process to participate in research. The registration is short and easy to complete and right under the Facebook application page. Next to that, some companies also start using real-time sampling (or "river sampling") through Facebook by asking survey qualifying questions to see if the respondent matches any open surveys. The great advantage of Real-Time sampling is that is enables to recruit site visitors from a network of prescreened websites who are willing to participate in a survey that interests them, but who may not be willing to join an online research panel. These potential respondents are randomly assigned to an open survey based on their responses to screening questions. With social-media audiences skewing towards the young and unmarried the relevance of using these sources to recruit and incentivise may be limited for many projects, yet with the growing popularity of these sites, as well as the industry's battle in search of good online research quality it may turn out to be part of the future of online research.