Museum of London and social software: research methodology for analysing effectiveness of Museum on FacebookThursday, November 19th, 2009
This blog post looks at the methodology I used to evaluate how effective the Museum of London’s (MOL) presence was on Facebook at the time of my research.
(My last post on the study of social software and its effectiveness on Museum of London looked at the results of the Museum of London’s blog site and the post before that looked at the methodology I used to research the effectiveness of the Museum’s blog.)
Primary research method for analysing effectiveness of MOL on Facebook
Method: use of survey
The primary way in which I researched the effectiveness of MOL on Facebook was through a questionnaire posted to all MOL Facebook fans and members of all MOL Facebook groups.
This provided qualitative answers such as whether members found MOL on Facebook useful and whether they visited MOL and the MOL website.
See the full survey I posted on Facebook (Word 78kb, opens in a new window)
Secondary research method for analysing the effectiveness of social software on MOL
In addition to this, contacted members of the Museums Computer Group and the London Web Managers’ Forum for information about use of social software in their organisations and the possible research they have done or come across on these. Unfortunately this method did not yield many useful answers in regards to evaluations done on the effective use of blogs and Facebook on museums. However, I did receive some useful information about the various social software being used by other museums.
I also reviewed the literature on blogs, Facebook, web analytics, surveys, research methods and museums and social media.
Surveys have both benefits and limitations (see below), however, I learned that I missed a brilliant opportunity to ask more about the use of other social media that MOL fans and group members used to communicate and engage with the Museum and its various websites.
I realised that I could have asked whether Facebook fans and group members read our blog site and made a connection between this part of the research with the blog part of the research. I could have asked about our Flickr images and our YouTube videos and our Twitter sites… Quite simply, I could have better designed the questionnaire and asked more questions specific to social media.
However, the results I received were still very interesting and changed the outcome of what we do on Facebook. I will blog the results next week, so do check back.
Recognised benefits and limitations of online surveys
Surveys are efficient ways of collecting information from across a large number of people, and online surveys have the advantage of being able to reach people across the world without geographical barriers and can be created and distributed cheaply, and the data gathered can be analysed quickly and accurately.
However, online surveys depend on individuals to be self-motivating in responding on their own initiative with honesty, and therefore the response rate may be low. In addition, individuals may simply ignore the request to complete it, or respondents may abandon the survey mid-way if there is no incentive to complete it.
Although surveys can have lots of questions, it can be time consuming to create, distribute, and analyse on return and while it allows individuals to read the questions first before completing it and prevents interviewer bias, individuals may not complete the survey if they read all the questions, and surveys can still be biased if the questions are asked in the wrong way. It also means that respondents cannot ask for any clarification in the same way that there can be no intervention from interviewers to prompt for clarity on answers or probe for further information.
Finally, those who do respond to the survey may have very different opinions from those who do not respond, and therefore the result may end up being biased and skewed as the sample results are less representative of the whole population.
Given the limitations on surveys, the fact remains that it is still a very useful way to gather qualitative information from individuals, and not just the quantitative. As long as I was able to keep the limitations in mind and account for this in my research, the result proved to be worthy.