Nerissa — she writes.

Tagsocial media

Using survey results to start a conversation.

In my past life as an associate at a PR agency, I was on the account team for a major credit card company that did a survey of Canadian small business owners every quarter. After the survey was complete and results compiled, I was responsible for pitching local and national media outlets to let them know about the results. The CEO was involved in the whole survey process, so it was natural to have him speak to media.

After my third or fourth round on the project, I asked more senior co-worker on the team if there was another way we could use the results. My mistake may have been speaking off the cuff, because when my coworker asked: “what do you mean?” I didn’t have an answer.

Well now, I have one… or a few.

With so much time and money invested in creating a survey, getting respondents, compiling results and everything else, there has to be a way to get more ‘bang for the buck’.

Here are a some ideas on how survey results can start conversations and be used to share information with an online audience.

First, tracking and getting involved in relevant conversations or groups online before the survey starts and while it’s underway can be a great way to prepare for when the release goes out. The last thing you want to do is start talking to your audience only to push a product or your company.

Then once the survey’s out, start a conversation:

  1. Ask followers and fans what they think. Is there a topic covered in the survey that could be of interest to your audience? Or a certain segment of your audience? Take the opportunity to ask for general opinions and get feedback.
  2. Go beyond spitting out a stiff, scientific list of results and tell some stories. How did you and your team come up with the idea? Did anything interesting come out of the survey that didn’t make it into the release? These juicy bits are great to share in a blog post or podcast.
  3. While Twitter and Facebook might be great to ask a question + get an answer, consider using forums if you want more of a conversation. Especially if you want to reach out to a network that might not be familiar with your company or products.
  4. Are pictures or music important to your survey? Consider making a song list or posting images to Pinterest. For example, a Songza list connected to a survey that finds people work out best to music that’s over 180 beats per minute. Or linking a list of recipes on Yummly using the foods in this survey that ranks 41 superfoods according to health benefits.
  5. This one is a stretch from #4, but it could be interesting. There’s a big app world out there. Maybe there’s an app that’s easily connected to some aspect of your results. Say you’re reading a blog post about this study that found many food trucks beat out restaurants when it came to food safety. Wouldn’t it be great to find out in the same post there’s a Street Food App?!

For more reading, check out this post on why ‘most social media marketing strategies are garbage’.

And it’s a little… sell-y, but here‘s a blog post by SurveyMonkey on surveys as conversations.

Happy surveying!

Twitter for people who don’t like blogging + noobs.

If you’re an entrepreneur, solopreneur, freelancer, or you own a small business and you don’t like blogging, here are some steps you can take to build your profile on Twitter. It’s one way to engage with your audience that’s more interactive than blogging or emailing and doesn’t require intense writing.

  1. Follow people. Find customers and clients, potential customers and clients, business partners, competitors (yes.), thought leaders in your field / industry, people you admire, companies or groups you want to partner with someday, friends, family, pancake houses. In other words follow as many people as you can who are relevant to you and your business. Everyone you follow will get a notice telling them that you’re following them.
  2. Carve out five – ten minutes in your day to check what’s going on with the people you’re following. When you see something you would have said, retweet, or if you see something you like, fav it. If you find something interesting or have a comment about something someone else tweeted (and you don’t mind it being public on the internets), respond.

These two things really make up half the battle. The best thing is if you just follow others and retweet / fav / respond you’re building engagement without tweeting anything yourself. But chances are if you follow people, people are going to follow you. And once you start building engagement you’re going to have some things to say…

  1. If your business relies heavily on dates / schedules (fitness studio or gym, for example) time your tweets to coincide with this schedule. If you have a big event coming up, consider telling your followers about important milestone dates leading up to the event (space or performers booked, sponsorships, etc.). Put all this in a calendar, if that makes things easier.
  2. Following that, tweet about your events! Sales, classes, talks, special appearances by celebrities, even personal things like graduating from school, finishing a program or taking a trip to attend a conference.
  3. Share stuff. Yes, there’s a lot of “noise” out there. A lot of people saying a lot of stuff about a lot of different things. But this doesn’t mean no one wants to hear what you have to say. Share things you find online, things you overheard or events that might be of interest to your followers.
  4. Share YOUR stuff. Take a picture of a new product your company is developing, a new shipment of clothing or accessories to your store, something cool happening right in front of you. Maybe you own a fitness studio and someone in your class is mastering a move for the first time. Get their permission to send a photo out to the universe and share it.

As with anything else, you determine how much (or little) you’ll get out of using Twitter. I’ve been on it for a couple of years and I know I can do a better job of being more engaged. But that’s the great thing about it – it’s easy and quick to join the conversation when you’re ready.