How to use social sampling to recruit Gen Zs for market research

19 May 2022 | 3 min read | Written by Kelvin Claveria

When it comes to social media consumption, Gen Zs lead the way. According to Pew Research, 84% of people under the age of 29 use at least one social network. If you’re trying to get Gen Zs to engage in market research, social sampling is an innovative and effective next-gen recruitment technique to add to your arsenal. 

Tapping into social networks like TikTok and Instagram can help supplement or complement traditional sample sources like panels. Social sampling is appropriate for many research initiatives—from building a Gen Z insight community to more ad-hoc projects like concept testing or IHUTs.

The key to getting social sampling right is to understand the behaviors and expectations of young people in these networks, and then adapt your survey questionnaire design and market research approach accordingly.

During a recent webinar, Rival President & Chief Methodologist Jennifer Reid shared some best practices and key learnings on social recruitment. If you're serious about reaching real Gen Zs—especially those who are outside of traditional sample providers—then these tips are for you. 

Pay to play. 

Social networks like Facebook and Instagram have algorithms that limit the visibility of organic posts from business pages. So posting a few times on your business page sharing your chat or survey is unlikely to yield the sample size you’re looking for.

You need to pay to play—you need budget to run targeted ad campaigns.

“You have to pay for attention,” Jen said. “Often even on sites have really big social media followings, we have to pay to boost ads or posts when we’re trying to use them to recruit people into research.”

Offer the right incentives.

If you want to reach critical mass, people need to know why they should participate. That’s where incentives come in.

We’re not talking about expensive or extravagant prizes. Offering gift cards is a great choice, but things like branded swag can be surprisingly effective.

Make sure your social media ads and posts prominently feature your incentives. Highlight them in your creative, including your images and copy.

“We use incentives because they work,” Jen shared. “And incentives don’t work if you don’t talk about them.”

Learn best practices for Gen Z market research

Have a clear call to action.

Often people are on social media to browse and pass time. They are there to watch, view and like.

When recruiting people off of social media though, you want them to do more than that. You want them to to click through and take your recruitment survey or chat.

In your ads and posts, be explicit about what you want people to do. Add a call to action to let people know that they should click the link to participate.

Jen explained, “You have to be really careful that you’re clear and that there’s something in that post that is motivating. You need something that gets people to want to click to join the conversation.”

Bonus tip: Think about the experience you’re taking people to.

Social media sites are dynamic and fun. Many brands take people from that experience to a flat, boring survey that uses clinical language.


Your survey/chat experience should at least match the social media experience especially on mobile. Unfortunately, most insight platforms don't really put the respondent experience top of mind, so you have to choose tech that does. (Shameless plug: we built Rival’s mobile research and chat survey platform to help bridge this gap!)

Just as important as the market research technology you choose, you should also optimize your survey questionnaire for mobile. A big part of this is writing chat surveys that feel conversational and friendly.

Remember: you’re not testing your customers—you’re engaging with them!

Use social sampling to build your Gen Z insight community 

Want to start leveraging TikTok, Instagram, Facebook and other popular social networks to help support your Gen Z recruitment initiatives?

Watch our webinar, “The Mobile Imperative: Best Practices for Gen Z Market Research,” or reach out to our insight community experts to learn more. 

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Written by Kelvin Claveria

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

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