I have to conduct a survey for a university paper, which is not that scientific but more like cloud brainstorming. Therefore my colleague and our tutors decided to advertise the survey (which is a Google Forms file and consists of seven questions) on Facebook.

The tutors simply made a status and shared the link to the Google Forms file. They have well over 2000 friends, but got only about ten answers. Seems plausible if taking into account that the status will only be fresh for about one hour.

My question now is, if my colleague and I should do the same and just be satisfied with around thirty participants OR send out private messages with the link. My concern here is, that it might seem like spam and my profile and therefore I may get disregarded by some pepole.

What advice would you give?

  • 'it might seem like spam' - by definition what you are describing is spam, it just comes from a known source
    – OpenTage
    Commented Jul 31, 2014 at 14:30

2 Answers 2


If it's something your friends don't want to see, it'll be considered spam whether it's in a status update or via private message. With that in mind, however, there's benefits for each approach:

If you share the survey as a status...

  1. Only your "Close Friends" will receive a notification about it, and even though it may look like spam to everyone else, they at least won't get notified.

  2. Friends who want to help your cause are free to "reshare" to post to their friends, increasing distribution (though reshares are a very rare occurrence).

If you share the survey as a private message...

  1. You can be sure the people you are messaging have a chance to see it. According to FB, the average status update is only shown to 15% of your friends; the rest never even have it put in their news feed. Private messages, rather, always reach who they're sent to.

  2. You have the ability to individualize each message (if only substituting in their name) to make the request feel more personal and less like spam, at the cost of extra time on your behalf.

  • Your points partly cover but also certainly extend my considerations, so thank you for that! Especially that 15% number convinced me, do use personal messages and personalize them for every one I write to.
    – pat3d3r
    Commented Jul 31, 2014 at 16:09

Direct messages will definitely have a higher response rate because it is more personal - however, it bodes well with your point that it could be seen as spam if the message is too generic.

Another point to consider is that copy-pasting a message would have a lower response rate than including the individual's name in a PM.

If all you want is a quick and dirty way of getting survey responses, I'd say create a Facebook Page with a brief but personal message and invite your friends to like the page.

I think the quickest way to get a response is to go to a computer lab or other common area and ask people directly (if the survey is short enough).

  • I already went with the personal message, but your approach with the FB page is great too, I did not think of that before.
    – pat3d3r
    Commented Jul 31, 2014 at 16:10

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