Tuesday, 9 October 2012

They said it couldn't be done…

Posted by Bronia Arnott

Recently I needed to recruit some participants for a user engagement study that we were organising as part of our research. I had had in my mind for a while that I would probably try to recruit some participants via twitter. Anyone who knows me knows that I am a twitter advocate. I had been thinking about this idea for a while. However, when I mentioned my plan to others they said that they didn't think it could be done...

The Incredulity of Saint Thomas, by Caravaggio
Due to some unexpected delays on the project I realised that my brief recruitment timescale was going to coincide with moving house and my daughter starting preschool. I negotiated to have time off as long as long as I could recruit participants while I was on leave. The appeal of a twitter recruitment drive became even more appealing. I thought maybe I should probably have a strategy (or maybe I was just procrastinating) so I checked out what times of the day were most likely to get Re-tweets and put my academic writing skills to the test trying to summarise the user engagement studies into the 140 characters allowed by twitter. I also thought about targeting specific people who I followed or who followed me (or our research project twitter account) and asking them to Re-tweet to their followers. "Shy bairns get nowt" and all that.

Soon the RTs were coming in and so were the hits on our project website. Slowly but surely the sessions filled up. So were the doubters right? It wasn't as successful as I would have liked but I think there were a few reasons for that: we had very specific inclusion criteria, limited time, no funds, and for some of the time I had no Internet access (the provider who messed up not once but twice will remain nameless).

I think in the end researchers probably can recruit using twitter. Whether they should or not is a different question...

No comments:

Post a Comment