Recruiting participants via social media: like, share, block, report

Research output: Contribution to specialist publicationArticle


Social media is a popular method for recruiting research participants and especially during the current pandemic. Researchers are increasingly using platforms like Facebook and Twitter to engage with participant groups, either to collect data directly; for example by posting links to online surveys, or to recruit participants for further research activity; for example to inform them of interviews or focus groups. Whilst use of social media to gather data and recruit participants is increasing rapidly, development of guidance for this activity has not kept up with engagement. For my doctoral main study I recruited participants for face to face interviews using social media (Twitter). Little has been written about the ethical implications of this method of recruitment and my experiences have taught me a lot – from potential participants 'outing' themselves publicly as being involved, to over 11,500 people engaging in my tweet when I only needed 6 participants! What had seemed a very easy way to attract participants became a bit of a minefield, which hopefully I can help you negotiate successfully for your study as there are benefits to social media participant recruitment. I have included some extracts from my research journal (labelled Fourth Shift Stories, as they were written after teaching, parenting and studying were completed) so you can see what I was thinking at the time, as well as my reflections looking back on the study.
Original languageEnglish
Specialist publicationSAGE Research Methods
Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2022
Externally publishedYes


  • Social media
  • ethics
  • consent
  • anonymity


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