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Migrant sampling using Facebook advertisements


The study investigates whether Facebook as social networking site (SNS) is a useful supplement to other sampling approaches in migrant research. In general, sampling of migrants in cross-national survey research is challenging. Established techniques such as random-route sampling or random-digit-dialing are associated with high monetary costs, in particular when small migrant groups are targeted. The use of SNS may provide a cost-efficient and viable alternative, considering the increasing penetration of social networks globally over the past 20 years. The study investigates such potential by analysing data collected through Facebook advertisements to sample Polish migrants in Austria, Ireland, Switzerland, and the United Kingdom.


The study succeeded in sampling a total of 1,103 individuals in four countries (Austria, Ireland, Switzerland, and the United Kingdom) who completed the extensive questionnaire within the field period of eight weeks. In contrast to most of the few earlier studies that tried to sample respondents with the help of Facebook advertisements, no incentives were used to motivate respondents to participate. With nearly all (96 per cent) of the respondents belonging to the target population and a total sampling budget of €500 (US$557), the method can be considered both accurate and cost efficient in recruiting people from the target population. Furthermore, the results suggest that the vast majority of the sample would not have been reached if traditional techniques of sampling had been employed, as their names were not included in the telephone registries. This innovative approach to sampling data can potentially be replicated in multiple contexts of migration research and can be a viable solution to sample people from target populations especially for projects with budget constraints.

(Picture: © Amanda Martinez Nero)

Last modified
27 May 2021
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