Blog Usage Research Survey: Part 1 (The Setup)

 

This week’s assignment in MMC5427, Research Methods in Digital Communication, was to create and distribute a survey for research purposes across social media.  This first part outlines the planning, creation, and distribution stages of the assignment.  (Next week’s post, Blog Usage Research Survey:  Part 2 (The Analysis), will detail and summarize my findings.)

 

Research Planning

The logical first step was to come up with a research topic.  I considered a few different ones including: Current traditional media usage (including print magazines, books, catalogues, radio, television, newspapers, etc.), social media usage, various parenting topics, spirituality and self-development topics, and also blogs.  I did not pursue the first because I felt it was far too broad, (and therefore would be a beast to create a solid survey for and analyze), and whereas it interested me, it wasn’t necessarily something I wanted to spend hours researching.  I also feared that the topic may be either too dry, or the survey too long, and that therefore social media users may be more apt to drop out before the end- (or ignore it altogether).  So considering the platform, and the fact that I am not offering any incentive other than the pure joy one receives from helping me with a school assignment, this was simply not a good choice.  I ousted the more personal lifestyle type topics because they really are not relevant to my academic and professional goals.  However, blogs and their usage are relevant to both.  Blogs, of course, are a form of social media.  However, I also have a personal and professional stake in this research because, aside from this social media blog chronically my academic growth, I also intend to create, promote, and monetize other blogs in the future.

I basically want a simple overview, but the next step was to narrow down more specifically what I want to discover about blog usage through the survey.  My key interests are:

1)  How and how often are people engaging with blogs?

2)  For what reasons are they engaging with blogs?

3)  How does social media impact the way people interact with blogs?

4)  Is there a difference how bloggers engage with blogs versus how non-bloggers engage with blogs?

 

Creating the Survey

I decided on Qualtrics Survey Software for simple online creation and distribution of the survey.  (The other option was Survey Monkey, but that software only allows for a maximum of 100 responses, whereas Qualtrics allows up to 250.)  I drafted some questions first on paper, reordered them according to topic and flow logic, and then set to work imputting the information into the Qualtrics interface.  Once finished, I revised and edited making sure to omit ambiguous and confusing language (including quantitatively undefined adjectives and adverbs).  I checked to make sure all the answers were formatted properly, and then did a preview / run-through myself.  Finally, not wanting to assume that all wording and meanings were clear, (since I am the one who wrote the survey), I asked two other people to preview it looking for any confusing questions or answer options.  After changing a couple things for clarity, I launched the survey.  Below are screenshots of the survey which will be closed, and therefore not accessible, in the near future.

 

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The first question, “Do you read blogs?” served as a weed-out question.  If a respondent answered “No”, I implemented the skip logic function in Qualitrics to take that person immediately to the end of the survey.  (It would be a waste to time to collect data from that respondent because he or she would be forced to give inaccurate responses to the rest of my questions, therefore ruining the integrity of my survey results.)

 

Distributing the Survey on Social Media

What good is an interesting and relevant survey if there is no one to complete it?  Therefore, the next part of the assignment was to distribute the survey across social media platforms.  I did so on Facebook (on my personal profile to my friends, as well as on my business fan page to followers, and even in the private group for this research class).  I also tweeted and posted to my Google Plus Profile.  On all three channels, I asked for help (via survey completions and shares) in slightly different ways based on what I thought would be most effective for each setting.  My first posts are below.  I intend to post daily.

 

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Post on my personal Facebook profile

 

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Post on my Facebook business / fan page

 

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Post to private group for research class

 

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Tweet, complete with hashtags

 

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Google Plus Post

 

 

So What’s Next?

Now I wait, promote some more, and monitor the results as they come in.  Then I will be back next week with the results in my post, Blog Usage Research Survey:  Part 2 (The Analysis).

 

 

Comments

  1. Lauren Padden says

    Angela,

    I enjoyed following the thought process that went into you survey building. Drafting it out on paper first probably allowed you to really brainstorm what you were wanting to get out of your survey and weed out unimportant questions along the way. When My office did its large in person survey, we also had committee member preview the survey to make sure we asked the right questions and they made sense. I feel this is really important in making sure you have a quality survey.

    The use of a skip logic questions I felt was also a great tool. If you have respondents who don’t read blogs why would you want them to keep answering the dataset? Taking a survey on something that doesn’t apply to the respondent may in the skew your data and therefore isn’t worth their time or yours.

    Good use of your social media pages as well to distribute your survey.

    I look forward to the results!

    • says

      Thanks for sharing your thoughts and your own professional experience with surveys, Lauren! This is my first survey attempt so I’m quite the newbie! I really enjoy learning from my colleagues / classmates who already have hands-on experience in the field with this sort of thing. In the same light, I especially appreciate your comments and feedback!

  2. Leia Hill says

    Hi Angela!
    I hope you get the results you are looking for. This class blog is my first experience with blogs, blogging, etc. So, when I went to take your survey, I tried to answer excluding my experience with this class…so I was kicked out after the first question. I am glad you posted screen shots of your entire survey…I was curious at to what the other questions were. I have an hidden interest in blogs…I want to create one that will take the world by storm. I want to tell all these stories that I find hilarious and life I changing but haven’t done one thing about it. I have lots of people I would like to blog about, their behavior would give my hundreds of blog-worthy topics. I do have some friends that blog, but I tend to just skip over the links on Facebook, thinking one day, when I’m not running at a feverous pace, I’ll go back and check them out. Maybe, that’s why I haven’t started a blog…if I don’t read them…who does. THAT is why, I can’t wait to see the results of your survey. I know it’s an emerging media so get to your analysis…because I want to know.

    I only posted my survey on Facebook at first, then I went to LinkedIn, but it didn’t increase my responses one bit. I begged several times for my friends on FB to help me out… I tried to be clever and cute. I’m a little disappointed…I have way more “FRIENDS” than people that completed my survey. What does it take to get people involved? What do they want?? I do everything they ask, I buy from their kids, support their events, pour water over my head and pray for their sick goldfish…I’m a little frustrated to say the least. My biggest fan…my mom. She posted and shared that survey 10 times…at least you know who’s got your back.

    Good luck and I’ll be reading.

    • says

      Leia, thanks so much for commenting. You said, “…but I tend to just skip over the links on Facebook, thinking one day, when I’m not running at a feverous pace, I’ll go back and check them out. Maybe, that’s why I haven’t started a blog…if I don’t read them…who does. THAT is why, I can’t wait to see the results of your survey…” I feel the exact same way, and that’s why I decided on this research topic. I have so many blogs that I would LOVE to read, (and write), but don’t have time and so the email notifications pile up (into the thousands) in my inbox for one… I also wonder what’s the point of writing if nobody is going to read? WHO are these people out there that are reading blogs, because they’re there! So I want to identify them and then get inside their heads :).

      I have a hunch that A LOT of people will click “no” when asked if they read blogs. Then I wonder how many of them don’t realize they are reading a blog when they do a Google search and come up with “10 Ways to ______” and “How to ______ In Just 10 Minutes A Day.” So, I have not yet peeked at any results, but I’m already spinning a lot of “What if?” questions in my mind. I’m also already thinking of ways I may have done this survey differently.

      Sorry to hear you’re having a tough time with responses. I would imagine most people skip survey requests in their newsfeed the same way they do blog posts. I don’t think many of my “friends” took it either. I’d say the majority of my support came from my business fan page and fellow classmates who can empathize. All of it makes me think about the Uses and Gratifications Theory… Perhaps they aren’t engaging because it doesn’t do anything for them? UNLESS helping someone else out would bring them gratification. (That’s a story for a whole different class, though! 😉 )

      Thanks for taking the time to respond. It’s nice getting to know you :).

      Angela

  3. says

    Great job providing in depth details about how you selected a topic and created and distributed your survey. I also took your survey, and only had to second guess myself on one question. In regard to the question “How many blogs do you have?” I answered only one, because I am the sole owner of only one blog; however, I manage another blog. While I do believe I answered this questions as it was intended to be answered, it did make me unsure about the next questions. For example, the blog I “have” I currently use only for purposes of this program; however, the blog I manage I create content for education purposes, marketing and SEO. Overall I think you did a great job and I really enjoyed all the details you shared about the process. It’s certainly not as easy as it sounds. It’s like that assignment I think we all had as children to write instructions for a game, recipe, etc. I also had another individual “test” my survey first, and I would bet it could still be improved as well 🙂

    • says

      Thanks, Kaitlin, for bringing up things I hadn’t thought about. You know, I asked people who have little blog experience to test-drive the survey. I figured that would work to my advantage because, if they could understand the questions clearly, then that would mean I’m good to go. You bring up a very valid point, and in the future I’ll be sure to have people both WITH experience as well as WITHOUT experience on the topic check it out so that I can get both perspectives and interpretations of meaning. Also, regarding the question you specifically mentioned I assumed people would mark all selections that pertained to any blogs for which they created posts. I’ll also have to be more careful with assumptions in the future, and be sure to clearly state differentiations or even create a separate question.

      This is definitely a learning experience, and one I’m very much enjoying :). Thanks so much for your insights and feedback.

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