More and more often I read in papers, that an online survey has been conducted through Facebook. What I have yet to understand is how this can best be done. I understand that Facebook allows the creation of a survey app that allows surveys to be embedded in fan pages or timelines. Thus, I have many little questions:

  1. How and where do the existing Facebook survey apps (like https://de-de.facebook.com/simple.surveys) store their data? How does this comply with scientific privacy and data security concerns?
  2. Which apps are best, and why?
  3. I would like to run the actual survey on my own website. Is it possible to embed an external website in a Facebook app?
  4. How can I implement a survey that does not need the test subject to allow the app access to profile data?
  5. Since there is no way to advertise a survey on Facebook, except by having someone use it and let his friends know that he uses it, how do you, who have conducted surveys through Facebook, find a large enough and random enough sample? Or: How do you advertise your survey?

My overall question is

Regardless of the little questions above, I'm interested in:

  • What is an effective way to conduct surveys using Facebook?
  • Are there any existing tutorials that describe best practice?
  • $\begingroup$ A lot of the time I take this to mean "We wrote a survey on some third party site, but distributed it on Facebook". I don't think they necessarily refer to using a Facebook app to do so, although some certainly would have done. $\endgroup$ – adb May 23 '13 at 13:36
  • $\begingroup$ I aggree that building my own FB survey app or interface will be a time consuming undertaking. But we are doing very many surveys and would be able to reuse the results from this one-time effort many times and believe it would be worthwhile. $\endgroup$ – user3116 Jul 11 '13 at 13:07

This is just a few thoughts.

I agree with @adb that an obvious way to use facebook for conducting surveys is just to provide a link to an external website that runs the survey.

There is an interesting article by Tan and colleagues where they talk about using paid advertisements to get targeted participants on Facebook. I thought the following statistics were interesting in highlighting the sheer scale required in order to convert an ad into completed surveys: 1.1 million ad impressions resulted in 280 clicks on the advertisement of which 59 responded to the survey of which 39 completed the survey.


  • $\begingroup$ Thank you, Jeromy, that's a great article. Tan et al. wanted to recruit students from Victoria, Australia, taking a "Maths Methods" course. There probably aren't 1.1 million such students (but I don't know). Maybe the ad wasn't targeted (enough). Also you need to divide that number by repeat views (people usually see a lot of FB pages, all with the same ads, during six days). I think FB is good for recruiting general samples (e.g. teenagers), because FB users aren't required to supply much information to make it possible to safely close-target an ad. $\endgroup$ – user3116 Jul 11 '13 at 12:58
  • $\begingroup$ The whole idea behind integrating the survey into FB is making filling out the form more entertaining. We want to display some of the results to the users and maybe make it possible for them to display some of the results on their "wall", like game results, thus recruiting more participants who want to see how they score in whatever we want to test. $\endgroup$ – user3116 Jul 11 '13 at 13:09
  • $\begingroup$ I'm keen to hear what works. Hopefully others have more to say. $\endgroup$ – Jeromy Anglim Jul 11 '13 at 13:14
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    $\begingroup$ If and when the survey is completed, I'll answer my question here. $\endgroup$ – user3116 Jul 11 '13 at 13:36

You could try third party suppliers. There is currently a company offering free facebook surveys. Basically, create an account, create a survey, enter in a bit of information and presto, you have a survey. Try www.hiprewards.com. Building your own survey app for facebook is not a trivial undertaking.

  • $\begingroup$ I don't want sensitive data to live on someone else's servers. For example, I'm collecting contact data, because we want to do a longitudinal study and want to be able to contact our test subjects in a few years time. Also, the tools I have seen don't offer the flexibility that I have by coding my own survey form. $\endgroup$ – user3116 Jul 11 '13 at 13:04

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