Advertisements on Social Networking Sites as recruitment tool for online surveys

GESIS ›Meet the Experts‹

Surveying specific (small) sub-populations is one of survey research›s long-standing methodological challenges. The recruitment of hard-to-reach populations through social networking sites (SNS), and particularly through Facebook‹s and Instagram›s targeted advertising capabilities, is a promising approach that allows scholars to tackle this issue. During the last years, SNS recruitment received growing attention and has, for example, been successfully used to survey migrants, LGBTQ populations, supporters of conspiracy myths, and employees in specific economic sectors. Furthermore, this approach allows realizing large-scale surveys on topics of high societal importance, such as the current COVID-19 pandemic, within a concise timeframe.  

Starting with a brief overview and discussion of this method‹s potentials and limitations, the presentation will focus on the practicalities of targeting specific populations through Facebook and Instagram. More specifically, we will detail on issues important to consider when planning a sampling strategy using Facebook/Instagram, the design of advertisements and advertisement campaigns, and briefly introduce the web interface used to set-up and control advertisement campaigns on these SNS.

Results and experiences from GESIS research projects targeting Polish migrants (https://doi.org/10.1177/0894439316666262), German emigrants (https://doi.org/10.34879/gesisblog.2020.25), and health care industry workers (in progress) will be used to provide practical examples throughout the presentation.


Dr. Steffen Pötzschke is a postdoctoral researcher in the GESIS Panel team at GESIS – Leibniz-Institute for the Social Sciences in Mannheim. He joined GESIS in 2011 and received his doctoral degree (Dr. phil.) from the University of Osnabrück in 2018. His research interests include online survey methodology, survey design, SNS sampling, and methods of migration research.

Christoph Beuthner studied Sociology at the Technical University of Dresden and graduated in 2015. Since 2017 he is a doctoral researcher in the Team Survey Operations at GESIS - Leibniz-Institute for the Social Sciences in Mannheim. His dissertation focuses on optimizing online surveys.



GESIS - Leibniz-Institut für Sozialwissenschaften


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