How do social network surveys work?


Episto, what does it look like in real life?

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01. Why use social networks?

The research sector was born at the beginning of the 20th century. As technological revolutions progressed, methods of gathering opinions diversified. At the turn of the century, the first surveys were conducted face-to-face in the street.

Then, in the 1970s, the advent of the telephone and its democratisation in households made it possible to rationalise survey costs and time, while taking advantage of a wider geographical reach.

But then the Internet came along. Towards the end of the 1990s, the digital revolution disrupted the industry. Pollsters no longer needed to administer the questionnaire to each individual, but could now distribute it over the Internet to panels of Internet users, collecting answers simultaneously.

Strengths and limitations of the 3 traditional opinion-gathering methodologies

Face-to-face / CAPI (Computer Assisted Personal Interviewing)


  • Access to respondents without Internet or telephone
  • Possibility of going beyond the interview guide


  • Need for trained staff
  • Time-consuming
  • Bias related to being familiar with the interviewer 
  • Expensive

The telephone / CATI (Computer Assisted Telephone Interviewing)


  • Access to a wider population
  • Possibility of going beyond the interview guide
  • Remote geographic targeting


  • Staff and training needs
  • Time-consuming
  • Bias related to being familiar with the interviewer
  • Decline in landline phone use and difficulty in obtaining cell phone numbers
  • Growing reluctance to accept calls from unknown sources

Online panels / CAWI (Computer Assisted Web Interviewing)


  • Easy to program and administer on large samples
  • Limited need for human resources
  • Speed of execution and fieldwork
  • Inexpensive


  • Exclusively for literate populations with Internet access 
  • Professionalisation of certain respondents
  • Limited qualitative data

Today, the power of social networks represents a significant opportunity for quantitative research. In the UK, 84% of the population uses social networks. 

On average, each individual spends around 2 hours a day in this way. That's almost 20% of waking hours! Your audiences spend most of their free time on social networks, so it's the ideal place to ask them about your issues.

Social networks in 2023

02. How does it work?

Social network advertising as a targeting tool

Today's social networks offer the possibility of targeting all their users according to precise criteria: socio-demographic, geographic and by centers of interest. This targeting, initially intended for the distribution of advertising content by advertisers, is now becoming a valuable tool for pre-qualifying and recruiting respondents in our quantitative research context.

Social network research methodology is based on advertising and its precise targeting criteria.

The principle is simple:

Defining the target of the research study

according to its goals.

Create publications (posts and stories)

a visual accompanied by a message inviting comments.

Launch of an advertising campaign

which sponsors these publications among the target population using social network targeting criteria.

Monitor the collection of answers from targeted users

by monitoring the filling of quotas.

At Episto, we mainly use Facebook and Instagram to recruit our respondents. But we also use Snapchat and TikTok if the goal is appropriate.

Conversational questionnaires as a data collection method

Targeting the right respondents is crucial. Then it's a question of administering a questionnaire they'll enjoy completing, right to the end!

So interested in the ad, targeted users are just one click away from becoming survey respondents.

They are then redirected to the questionnaire, which they answer directly on their smartphone. 

The main challenge of social network research is to offer each individual a pleasant experience, through an easy-to-understand and fluid questionnaire.

At Episto, we do just that through an engaging conversational format.

What is an engaging, conversational questionnaire?

It's a questionnaire that takes the form of a natural discussion like an instant chat.

  • The look and feel of a familiar application
  • A wide range of questions
  • Emojis
  • Questions that arise as the conversation unfolds
  • An engaging tone that is neither too familiar nor too formal, with an adequate vocabulary

Watch out!

While the commitment of respondents is essential to gather high-quality answers, this method may not be suitable for certain types of studies. Two cases fall into this category, and on the basis of your questionnaire, we can discuss possible alternatives and solutions.

If your questionnaire involves an overly complex device

In other words, it requires technical provisions such as the activation of a webcam foreye-trackingfor example. 

If your questionnaire is necessarily long

In other words, it contains more than 60 questions and takes longer than 15 minutes to complete. In this case, it will not be suitable for this methodology, especially given the use of cell phones and the non-incentivisation of respondents.

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