Social media recruitment: How to use social channels to get real people to join your insight community

23 June 2022 | 4 min read | Written by Kelvin Claveria

Did you know that 72.3% of Americans are on social media? Given the popularity of social networks today, it makes sense to consider social media recruitment a part of your market research strategy.

While sample sources like access panels and email databases can still be very useful recruitment tools, social media recruitment opens exciting and unique opportunities to reach real people—those who are not "professional survey takers"—and invite them to your insight community or engage them for specific ad hoc projects.

For some researchers, social sampling could feel very different from other recruitment tactics and a bit intimidating. To help answer questions about social media recruitment, I recently invited Julia Morton, VP of Customer Success at Rival Technologies, and Ben Hudson, Head of Marketing at Rival Group, to de-mystify this new way of recruiting market research participants.

Watch the recording below or scroll down a bit further to read our key takeaways.  


How is social media recruitment different from social listening?  

When it comes to capturing customer insights on social media, many brands are familiar with the concept of social media listening—the act of monitoring what your followers (or those mentioning your brand or keywords related to your product/services) are saying on social networks.

Julia points out that while social media listening can be valuable, it is a passive method of getting customer feedback. And because conversations on social media are so unstructured, it’s also hard to generate insights you can be confident about. 

Another important consideration? The fact that on social, a vocal minority tends to dominate conversation. 

In contrast, social media recruitment is the process of actively recruiting research participants from the social networks where they are already spending their time and inviting them to participate in more structured and private engagements. For example, you can use social sampling to get new people to join your insight community, or you can run ads on these platforms to target specific, hard-to-reach audiences. 

Tips on using social media recruitment for market research:

Get your marketing team on board early 

If you want to leverage your company’s social media properties to recruit participants, getting your marketing team involved and onboard with the plan is critical.

“Often we do this by sharing the benefits for them, giving them an opportunity to ask their social audience some questions and learn a little bit more about their followers beyond what they get from social media analytics,” said Julia.

Have an open conversation with your social media team so they understand what your goals are, how it benefits their team, and what the value is for your company.

Match the survey experience with the brand experience

When pulling potential research participants from social media, their first interaction with you should feel like a continuation of the brand experience—not a departure from it.

“It doesn’t matter how effective your ad is if your participants are having trouble navigating your questionnaire or are bombarded with 50 repetitive questions.”

That means you can’t have a cool ad on Facebook, Instagram, or TikTok and then send them to a boring survey that feels clunky on their smartphone. 

“We make sure that our chat surveys are fun and dynamic,” shared Julia, “It doesn’t matter how effective your ad is if your participants are having trouble navigating your questionnaire or are bombarded with 50 repetitive questions.”

Following mobile research best practices is imperative to making social media recruitment work for you. This entails following conversational research principles and "chattifying" your surveys so they feel more like a natural dialogue rather than a test. 

Adapt your creative to the channel

Each social media channel has its own vibe—TikTok is seen as intimate and authentic, whereas Instagram is seen as aspirational and curative. When thinking about running ads to recruit research participants on social media, adapt your creative to the specific channel you’re recruiting from.

Julia also recommends developing several variations of the creative and experimenting often.  

Also, have a clear call to action. When brands post or run ads on social media, it is often only with the goal of increasing awareness and engagement. But with social media recruitment, you have a very specific ask: click the link to participate in the chat survey. This call to action—along with the incentive—should be clear in your creative.  

Optimize the research experience

Avoid taking participants out of the headspace you’ve worked so hard to create. Your chat should be dynamic in the same way that your social media presence is.

To that end: asking for people’s email address or about standard demographic questions is NOT a great idea.

“Imagine if you were meeting someone at a party,” Julia explained, “you wouldn’t start with hi, nice to meet you, how many people live in your household, what’s your income what’s your marital status, what’s your level of income?”

Keep it fun, and tie your first questions with the ad that brought the participant to your chat—if you asked a question in your ad copy, it should be the first question you ask in the chat survey.

Don’t take people out of the social media experience 

Requiring people to download a mobile survey app to participate in your recruitment survey is not a great idea. No one wants another app on their phone. Asking people to get an app just so they can answer surveys is adding unnecessary hassle for participants.

That’s why we built the Rival platform to work seamlessly with the UI of most social media apps. Instead of asking people to download an app, our chats use the built-in browser of the social platform so people can answer your chat right there, subscribe to participate in your insight community, then get back to their scrolling on social media. 

Make social media recruitment work for you

The real power of social media recruitment for market research is helping you hear from real customers—unheard or underrepresented voices interested in sharing their valuable opinions and experiences about your brand. A strategy that can deliver deeper insights you can be confident in.

To learn how you can use the Rival’s mobile research and chat survey platform to power your social media recruitment initiatives, check out our recent webinar, “The Future of Insight Communities in a Mobile-First World.”

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Written by Kelvin Claveria

Kelvin Claveria (@kcclaveria) is Director of Demand Generation at Rival Technologies.

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