Social Media and Surveys: Collaboration, Not Competition

Mick Couper 

This talk follows on one I gave at the ESRA conference in Ljubljana in July 2013 (recently published in Survey Research Methods) and is a repeat and update of one I gave at the General Online Research conference in March 2014. In the ESRA talk I focused on some of the claims made by proponents of “big data,” especially those claiming that big data will replace surveys and make them redundant. I raised a number of concerns about big data and concluded that there is still an important role for surveys. In this talk I take a more positive view, and explore specific areas of research where big data (and especially social media) analytics and surveys can complement each other. I present several examples using data from the LISS panel in the Netherlands. I outline some of the gaps in our knowledge at the intersection of surveys and social media analysis and offer some suggestions for a possible collaborative research agenda to exploit the strengths of each approach.