Social Media Sampling Is a Thing Now. Here’s why

Written by

Isabelle Moura

Published on

According to the latest Digital Statshot Report from Hootsuite, more than half of the world’s population is now on social media. As a consequence, a person with a phone and internet today has almost unlimited access to information, including from their favorite brands. This new social media era has definitely changed the customer-brand relationship, as well as the way customer insight is obtained. This is why brands, and their market research partners, are turning to social media sampling for their research now.     

Sampling in social media

Sampling in social media might not be the go to methodology for many when it comes to market research, but it has a great potential. Firstly, because there are now 4.48 billion social media users around the world, which is equal to almost 57% of the world’s total population. Secondly because the number of social media users increased 13% in the last year, and this means half a billion more people in 12 months. So, obviously, if you are trying to find someone, social media is definitely a good place to start.    

To succeed at social sampling, though, you need to understand the medium you’re in. Every social media channel has its own algorithm and dynamics, so just jumping into it is not enough. You need to understand how that media works in order to really know how to get the best out of it while sampling.   

According to Statista, the average time internet users spend on social media is two hours and 24 minutes, considering all devices each day. This is more than one-third of the total time people spend on the internet. However, the internet has infinite distractions and people use social media mostly in their free time, which means limited availability. Because of that, it is important to develop appealing ways to quickly capture the person’s attention and collect their insight for the research.         

The social media biases

Sampling on social media obviously comes with biases, like every methodology. In the first place, there is coverage bias. This bias can happen if the person does not have a social media account or access to an internet connection, for example. In this case, then, the person is not “covered” and can not be reached by social media, meaning he or she will not be able to contribute to the research.       

In the second place, there is algorithm bias. As previously mentioned every social media is different, so to successfully find respondents on the internet you need to know how each platform works and adapt to it. Finally, there is cognitive load bias which can affect elderly or illiterate people, for example. Their condition can certainly make participating in a research a harder than usual task.      

With more people online than ever, social media sampling feels like a natural step for market research. Panels are not gone, though. Rather, social media has become another tool to help in the research process, boosting its speed and quality. As a company with a strong passion for innovation, we have already seen some benefits of social media sampling ourselves. We hope to see even more benefits from it in the future, and to bring our partners along with us on this journey of excellence.      


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