“I can’t do a survey; so why can’t I just look at social media to see what people are thinking?”

Don’t want to make the effort to do a survey? Think again. Sure, you can look at what people are saying on social media. But social media will not always tell you what you want to know.

What social media will tell you

Monitoring social media is valuable. It is necessary for you keep on top of what is important to your audiences right now. So it’s useful and quick if your target audience is on Twitter or Facebook or wherever.

But the big thing here is that social media only reflects what people on social media are saying. For most companies only a fraction of their target audience is on Twitter (which is what most social media monitoring collects), so whatever data you get is not projectable. It is also vulnerable to spambots, so you may not be hearing the opinions of real humans, nevermind ones that are your stakeholders.

Social media will tell you some of what the rest of the media is talking about, because people share content they are interested in. Of course, if they aren’t interested in content about your organization, then you won’t be hearing about your organization on social media.

Oftentimes you may find yourself trying to guess or infer what people think, based on what they are saying or sharing on social media. This is not ideal. If your firm has just rolled out your magnificent Product X and nobody is talking about it on social media, then what does that really mean? You could guess, but the only way you are really going to find out is to do a survey.

What a survey will tell you

A survey can tell you what people think about Product X and a whole lot more besides. With a survey you can ask people exactly what you want to know.

Here are 9 important things a survey will tell you or measure that your social media monitoring can’t:

  1. People’s likelihood to purchase a product or service, or to donate, or become a member.
  2. The extent to which people trust your organization and/or others. In particular, see the Grunig Trust Survey Instrument.
  3. The extent to which people feel your organization has empathy for them or their issues.
  4. The extent to which people feel your organization is authentic in its communications and/or actions.
  5. The consistency of leadership communications with actions. Here’s how to do a Leader-Say-Do Survey.
  6. The perception of your organization’s COVID-19 safety.
  7. What people know, believe, or perceive about a particular topic.
  8. How people feel — about your organization or about what they know. Here are questions to ask to measure employee alignment with corporate strategy.
  9. What people’s perceptions are — of a topic, product, service, or organization.

 Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay.

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