Have you ever wanted to ask a large group of people their thoughts on a particular topic? Maybe you want to know what the 2000+ members of the Sydney Testers meetup group want to get out of the group? Was your first thought to create a poll or send out a survey? I bet you that channel didn’t work out so well for you because I tried it.

Here is my list of orders of communication to help you get the results you need when trying to get data to help influence your decisions.

Face to Face

Nothing beats face to face communication. The only draw back with this method is it’s hard to scale to reach a mass market. However the best way to get lots of feedback in a face to face style would be to collect opinions at a physical event. The low-tech solution here would be to hand out a paper survey at a meetup event and collect the results as people leave. BOOM, 30-120 responses based on attendance and it’s all useful data that’s not from some random scrub off the internet. There’s a little bit of manual data entry at the end but the results justify the return on investment.

You see this method play out at conferences for lead generation. A company will have a stall displaying their products and services. They might tempt people in with a competition or survey. “Give us your email for your chance to win” type of deal. This is leveraging face to face communication.

Do you want to settle a deal or convince your boss to give you a raise? Have a face to face meeting in a cosy cafe. It helps build up that environment of trust.

Video or Phone call

If you can’t meet someone in person, arranging a phone call or video chat should be your next point of call. As a millennial I’ve had a mild social phobia of talking on the phone that I’ve had to overcome. I highly recommend getting comfortable with getting on the phone. It will really help with collaborating with any task. As our workforce gets more global this will become more of the way we get work done.

Direct Message

I created this survey for gathering feedback from Sydney testers members last year. However I’ve only received 41 responses so far. I’ve done some pretty thorough marketing for this survey and the results just don’t justify the effort. I did:

  • Sent an email through the MeetUp app asking for feedback
  • Created a discussion on meetup asking for feedback
  • Asked every tester in Sydney who’s a level 1 connection on my LinkedIn to provide feedback via personal direct messages
  • Asked the committee to share the survey
  • Ask every new Tester who I connect with on LinkedIn to provide feedback

The feedback has been really useful but it’s been a lot of work. Work that I’m not getting paid to do either. So I don’t see it as a useful use of my time.

Social Media

Social Media is the ultimate spray and prey method. You put stuff on the internet hoping for people to stumble upon it and react to it. Posting just once hardly is effective. You need to be consistent with this and constantly posting. This is also a lot of work.

For example we’ve had this poll on our Sydney Testers meetup page since 2014, yet we only have 20 responses.

Most of the results so far are around job opportunities, networking, learning tech skills and remaining relevant in my career. If you run a tech meetup, your members probably want very similar things.

Conclusion

I prefer face to face communication above all others. I think meetup sucks as a platform for trying to engage people outside of the “turn up to this event” type of engagement. Do you dis-agree with what I’ve put here? How so?

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