Hidden gem of socials networks
Reading time: 15min;
Method: Dot voting;
Content: Usage example; Personal case
Keywords social networks; #research; #people opinion; #another form of voting
The usage of the dot voting method in groups of multiple people is clear and straightforward. Yet what if you don't have a group of people in front of you, but you still are interested in other people's opinions about a specific question? You could take the phone and start calling your friends to ask what they think and get into discussions with them. Or you could try different approaches. In this article, I'll describe how to utilize always present social networks to gather more insights on questions interesting to you.
Social networks, for sure, are one of the most significant technological innovations impacting substantial parts of our life today. The biggest, I would say. Of course, it is only one of the innovations we have seen. And we could list and argue about other innovations bringing more considerable value to society. Yet, social media still have the most significant footprint on our day-to-day lives in this century. If we can trust the report summarizing internet and social networks usage in 2021, people from around the globe on average spend 2 hours and 48 minutes a day on social media. Moreover, this statistic is based on a substantial number of people – 4.48 billion people or 56.8% of the world population. 4.48 billion people and 2 hours and 48 minutes a day! It's twice as much time as people spend listening to the news and reading the printed media. It's almost one-third of the standard workday. The numbers are indeed impressive, and for sure social media have changed significantly our everyday life and the way we interact with the rest of the world.
4.48 billion people are many people to interact with and involve in testing our assumptions or asking questions we are interested in. Of course, we can't actually reach all of 4.49 billion people. It could be really hard to do and would require a lot of effort. Yet each of us has multiple people we are connected to in social networks. Each of these people potentially can be part of our virtual voting team. Not all of our connections will respond, that's for sure. We don't respond and get involved in every post and poll we see. Yet if we ask exciting questions or touch the relevant subject at a time, many people will.
How to use it for your own good?
Social networks can be a precious source of collective opinion that we can use for any question or subject we are interested in. You must have noticed that accounts representing the business world are already using social media users' opinions to validate their assumptions and gain answers to questions they are interested in. So why wouldn't anyone use it?
From the technical aspect, social networks provide multiple features to engage with other people in various ways. The most straightforward is the likes and shares, yet these are not the only nor always the best fit. Other features, like polls and interaction possibilities on the questions asked in stories, could work better. Using these will give more flexibility and often will be more convenient.
What was I interested in?
I've always been interested in people's motivation. What does motivate people to do something and the opposite – what refrains them from making the action. One specific question I'm curious about is people's motivation to participate in design thinking sessions repeatedly. Here it's important to clarify that I've organized many of them, and never I needed to work hard convincing people to participate. And I know for sure that people who participate are pretty satisfied after the sessions and will be ready to come next time. I'm confident about it since my gut feeling is telling me so, and I see it from the feedback I've received after the sessions (I always ask for that). People always mention that they have enjoyed the sessions and had lots of fun in their feedback. I often organize sessions like games, and the playful atmosphere and joyful interactions with team members are among the top buying factors. Another aspect that comes up regularly is the inspiration, surprising discoveries, and interesting ideas from team members. Of course, these are not the only "I liked" in the feedback, but these for sure are the ones I've heard the most. People often have said they feel energized and inspired after the sessions because of these emotions.
That's undoubtedly is a significant achievement, and for me, as an organizer of these sessions, it is critical to make sure the level of positive gains continues rising. To do so, I need to understand what is the most significant contributor to such emotions. Obviously, everyone is a personality and has different motivating factors; there is no one-fits-all receipt available. Yet, it doesn't stop me from understanding common themes and understanding the majority opinion about specific aspects. Therefore, I'm curious to understand which one of these two ingredients I've already mentioned - joyful time and surprising discoveries - is more important for my session participants. Would people repeatedly come to a session to spend joyous time with colleagues but gaining minimum added value? Or would people repeatedly come to high-value sessions that are run in a tense manner?
Another uncertainty spiraling in my head is if these motives are valid for any person or just a specific field? I've gained the feedback I was talking about in my professional work. But how about people that I've connected with via other than professional channels? Would the same aspects motivate these people too? I'm sure that fun time would. Who wouldn't like to spend joyous time??? But would it be enough with just fun? If not – would the inspirational part and discoveries motivate these people more?
One evening I've decided to run a small question-rating survey in my social networks to satisfy my curiosity.
What did I do?
I've decided to use Instagram as my opinion gathering tool because Instagram stories provide more flexible features. This was my first step since the tool, and available features impact the shapes of questions I could choose.
The second biggest question in my head is how to formulate the right questions. A simple, straightforward question like "Does joyful time (inspiring ideas) motivate you to meet with people" would not work. I'm sure I would get the bold "Yes." Who isn't motivated by these emotions after all? But my motive is not to get confirmation. My motivation is to understand better which one motivates more. Then maybe I should just invite people to choose one of two? I'm not too fond of this idea either. People might feel they dismiss the other option by selecting just one, and it could get confusing. Such formulation would confuse me for sure, and I don't want to confuse my friends. That could lead to dismissing the questions at all, and that's the worst that can happen.
So I've decided to formulate the questions in "At what extend do you agree with" sentences. I thought such a format would allow my friends to rate each motivator separately and give them quite flexible answer options. If I get the same agreement extend to both questions, it means both are equal motivators. If not – the difference will show me which one seems more motivating. That's what I did:
- I've formulated two questions representing simple everyday situations and tied one of the motivators in the case:
- I'm motivated by a playful atmosphere and fun time (Statement: Other people's positive experiences and discoveries inspire me to start something new).
- I'm motivated by inspiring ideas and discoveries (Statement: I'm primarily interested in having fun with friends. That's the only reason why I'm meeting my friends)
- There weren't hundreds of respondents to my questions, but still, more than 30 people responded.
- Absolutely everyone responded they are motivated by inspiring ideas and discoveries. So it means this is very motivating for people.
- There were fewer absolute responses to the question regards joyful time. It is pretty important for many, but not the only reason why people seek communication with others.
- So after combining these two responses, I can conclude that joyful time is essential, but discoveries and inspiration are more important for people in my social network.
That's it; I've completed my little mission and satisfied my curiosity. And I'm glad that I have so many open-minded people in my social networks. Hope to invite everyone to a little co-inspiring session soon.
Of course, a survey run in this manner can't be classified as statistically correct research. It probably also wouldn't be usable for theory justification in academic work, etc. Yet, that also was not the purpose and objective I've described. It simply is a friendly and easy way how to understand people around us better. If there are questions, there will be answers. Or at least ideas for the following questions, I'm sure about that.
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