What have men in forests and Facebook got in common?

There’s a joke I trot out in my emails or blog every year or two.  Here’s how it goes:

“If a man speaks in a forest and no woman hears him, is he still wrong?”

You’ll probably know the one it’s based on – trees falling and all that….

The point?

Imagine you get a superb questionnaire or survey designed for you – by my good self or someone else.  Happy days.

Because it’s “good” it will undoubtedly get a more than representative number of answers right?

No – not necessarily.

And here’s why.

Think of the survey like the man talking in the forest.  Or the tree falling.  Is there anyone there?

Imagine if no one answers the survey.  Or at best not enough people answer it to make its results worthwhile.  It can happen!

However, the good news is that there’s a lot that can be done to help get a sufficient number of answers.  When you use my services you’ll learn more about that.  But this does bring me to Facebook.

I got an email from them a while back.  The subject was: “Brendan, you’ve been selected to take part in a Facebook survey”.   Maybe you got something similar?

Just look at the language.  I’ve been “selected”.  Really?  Should I feel honoured?  Privileged?

I actually felt irritated.  And I humbly suspect that Facebook irritated thousands of people.  Perhaps to them it’s just a numbers game.  With their vast audience they can perhaps reasonably assume enough people will take the survey anyway.

But you can’t afford to make the same assumption.  The population size for any survey project you’d engage me on will be at the very most in the tens of thousands.

So we need to be careful with your audience.  And we will be.

If it’s time for you to run a survey to get answers from your customers or employees or some other group of stakeholders, book a free 15 minute slot directly in my calendar here and we’ll talk.  You’ll tell me what you have in mind and I’ll decide whether we’re a good fit.

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