How to Avoid Killing Survey Respondent Engagement with New Market Research

Japanese Road sign (Slippery road)

Japanese Road sign (Slippery road)
Why do surveys continue to be more than 20 minutes long with complex matrices/grids, long multiple response lists, and very broad open ends? What other options do we have as market researchers?

Every once and a while someone brings up the age-old market research problem of respondent survey abandonment due to survey length. In this most recent case I was reading about Greg Timpany‘s take on it in his article titled “Survey Length Impacts Respondent Engagement“.

In Greg’s article he says, “survey length is a significant predictor of a respondent’s level of engagement” and then lists some simple ways to improve engagement. After reading his article, I felt like I had heard the same thing time and time again, but that somehow many market research companies just weren’t making changes based on this simple advice.  Very soon after reading Greg’s blog article I found myself enthralled in a bizarre methodological solution for this problem of respondent engagement …


There is a lot of talk lately about how social media research removes the issues of respondent engagement that are typically seen with more traditional research methods, while traditional research methods arguably offer more validity to the results and representation of a specific population. Why don’t we just combine the new and the old research methods to solve all of the issues?

I haven’t heard of any examples as of yet where someone has successfully linked the respondents from traditional research methods to the respondents’ social media data, but there must be some already out there.

Here is the step-by-step method that I propose as a fantastic way for research clients to save time and money by harnessing the readily available data in social media and also ensuring validity and comparability with traditional methods:

  1. Use an online panel with updated routing capabilities for river sampling.
  2. Collect only the VERY necessary demographic information in the form of an online form/survey.
  3. Request access to view the respondents’ facebook, twitter, linkedin, and other social media profiles and in return provide them with free online tools (this could be games, real-time statistics, apps, etc).
  4. Track the respondents’ social media usage and profiles and use text analytics on their posts.
  5. Send respondents invites to short surveys based on what they say in social media to more easily grab the” early adopters” or those who would be engaged in the survey topic (quotas could be set in order to be representative if necessary).
  6. Link the survey findings to the social media usage data, profile information, and text analytics.

I’m sure there are many other approaches under development at this time in order to improve respondent engagement, but as a market researcher what do you think about my approach?


Looking forward to reading your comments!

– Sean Copeland