Andy Capaloff
March 30, 2014

Here’s How To Find The Right Context From Survey Results [Infographic]

Surveys! More and more people in Social Media are doing them!  The idea behind this is flawless.  We want to serve our customers by better understanding their needs, so why not ask them!

We did two for Curatti, the second of which, on Social Media Analytics, was with a view to a third.  Well that was the general idea.  Except that I may have an entirely different take on the results than many do and I now question their value for small sites, such as ours.

Zendesk_Infographic_Opinion_BurnoutThe creators of this Infographic make some very good points, but the only thing that is proven to me here, is that in exactly the same way that many people might interrogate data with an end goal in mind for the results they hope to find, so people can look at survey results and see entirely different things.

Look at the first numbers shown, under the caption ‘Wasting Time’:

  • 21% say they are too busy to take time-consuming surveys
  • 16% say they are inconvenienced by surveys
  • 16% say that surveys ask too many questions
  • 12% say surveys are too long

Thoughts that come to my mind here are:

  • 21% of how many?
  • What is the cross-section of people who took this?
  • Might the caption have read “Good news: Few people find surveys a waste of time” and been followed by stats including that 79% of people are not too busy to take time-consuming surveys?

Further down, under ‘Raise Interest’, 10% of respondents said that surveys should be interesting.  Given that this was a yes or no question, does this mean that 90% feel that survey either should be boring or that the question is of no significance?

I highlight these inconsistencies only because when two people looked at the results of Curatti’s analytics survey, one strictly analysed the results, and the other, yours truly, was struck by the following questions that I would urge you to consider, if you are thinking of creating a survey or have done so and are now analyzing the results:

  • What percentage of your following responded?
  • Without background data on the respondents, do their answers have any context and therefore relevance, whatsoever?
  • Are the respondents representative of the broader public?
  • Are they even representative of your broader audience?baffled


To put this into perspective, if I asked the question

Are you apathetic towards surveys?

Are the results going to be of any value whatsoever?

If, on a scale of 1 to 10, 50% of respondents to our analytics survey answer with a 10 that they know what Analytics Dashboards are:

  • Is there any chance that 50% of our target audience would have answered in this way?
  • Is it an indication that 50% of Curatti readers know this?
  • Does it mean 50% of people who saw that there was a survey on analytics have this knowledge
  • Does it simply mean that people with an interest in analytics know about Dashboards?


If you have ever taken a large-scale survey over the phone, it is highly likely that you will have been asked for some demographic information about yourself.  This is simply because they don’t want their results to be skewed because some types of people are more likely to take surveys than others.  And that is exactly why, while genuinely thanking those who took the time to take our survey, sorry to say, I don’t place very much value on the responses we have received to date.

In some ways, I think sites such as Survey Monkey are great.  Certainly, they allow anyone to create meaningful questions.

What I question is, without the controls put in place by professional survey companies, and without the context of who is responding, can any value at all be placed on survey answers?

All is not lost here!

My suggestions as to how to gain meaning from any surveys you want to initiate are:

  • Know the background of the person you are asking – THIS DOESN’T HAVE TO INVOLVE ASKING THEM MORE QUESTIONS!  It could, however, mean a controlled release, with the survey sent directly to specific people, as opposed to just posting a link……… or
  • Create multiple, possibly exact copies of your survey       and
  • Direct different people to different links


Of course, the responses from each group will differ drastically, but you can glean real meaning and perspective from them and I’d have to be hopeful that if I was asking people who know little about analytics, to do a survey on analytics, they would be far more likely to respond if they felt they were not being judged alongside experienced pros on the subject.


I’m genuinely interested in your take on this.What do you think

Please feel free to make comments or ask questions below.  Do you have any ideas as how meaning can be gained from small-scale surveys?



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Andy Capaloff

Andy Capaloff is the COO of Curatti. Prior to moving into the world of Content Marketing, Social Media Management and the day-to-day running of a Digital Marketing company, Andy spent over 3 decades in various aspects of IT. It is here that he honed his writing and technical skills, and his ability to ask uncommon questions.