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.)
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.
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.
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).