Article by Bobby Miller | 1,062 words
On May 1, 2015, the man behind the website SurveyMonkey.com died suddenly at the age of 47. Dave Goldberg had been at a resort in southwest Mexico when he fell on a treadmill and cracked his head open. According to BBC.com, investigators believe he died shortly after the fall due to blood loss.
How Dave Goldberg Helped Pave the Way for Digital News
Although his life was cut tragically short, Goldberg proved successful in launching some influential websites and services. He began his own ventures by releasing Launch in the mid-90s. This media outlet for music enthusiasts was dedicated to helping people discover new music while learning more about the bands they already love, as The New York Times explains.
What made it stand out, however, was its distribution method. Rather than tether itself to old-school technology like paper, Launch was one of the first magazines to provide an innovative experience on CD-ROMs. “CD-ROM magazines are betting that the multimedia blend of text, audio and video clips loaded on their silvery disks will be the first place to make money in the field of new media,” as The New York Times reported back in May of 1995.
Although the idea of receiving a CD magazine in the mail may sound silly nowadays, these discs were essentially predecessors to digital news outlets such as websites and online magazines. Launch lived on in the form of a website for a while, but was later integrated into Yahoo’s music services.
SurveyMonkey: Helping Businesses and Researchers Learn about People
However, Goldberg is better known for his role as CEO of SurveyMonkey.com, which was founded in 1999, as USA Today explains. The site has garnered over 15 million users since it was first launched. What makes SurveyMonkey stand out is how it benefits charities, researchers, businesses and its users.
The website is relatively simple. If you’re part of a business or research group that needs people to answer surveys on just about any subject imaginable, then you can have SurveyMonkey distribute your questions to eligible participants. You can see how answers tend to vary among demographics such as age, race, gender and location, which can be valuable for a business trying to figure out what its target audience wants.
If you go with the free plan, you can only ask one hundred people ten questions each, but $26 a month gets rid of the question limit and allows you to get responses from a thousand people. The most popular service, the gold service, costs $300 a year, but allows for infinite questions, infinite responses and other support options. This is most desirable for businesses whose long-term success depends on a steady stream of detailed feedback from consumers.
How Users Contribute to and Benefit from SurveyMonkey
The website’s users see the questions that businesses and other organizations conjure up. They’re typically presented in a multiple-choice fashion, though many surveys will also ask questions requiring you to type up more detailed responses. In my time with the website, I’ve encountered a huge range of surveys: some predictable, some weird. Many want to figure out how interested I would be in new products, asking me what problems they would solve for me and what advertising or packaging I would find the most appealing. A fair number of researchers are curious about my health habits and political beliefs. And a surprising number of companies want to know my shaving habits inside and out. But a few surveys are borderline bizarre, asking me if I’ve ever drunkenly hit on my boss during a holiday party or what celebrity an Energizer battery would be if it were a person. Hopefully, my insightful responses proved useful.
Usually, a survey takes only a couple minutes to complete. Ones that ask you to watch videos can take significantly longer, but you can stop a survey at any time and resume it later. Just don’t wait too long, though, because the survey will disappear once the people behind it have all the responses they need. Other surveys will take just a few seconds if you’re not the audience the surveyor wants. For instance, if a survey begins by asking you, “Have you looked for or purchased a home in the last two years?” and you reply with a no, then the survey will probably be counted as complete right there.
So, why have over 15 million people devoted their time to answering a bunch of surveys? Goldberg’s website provides two incentives. First off, every survey you complete results in fifty cents being donated to the charity of your choosing. Although this is a small amount, it’s satisfying to earn a few bucks for a good cause in just a few minutes, and it all adds up. For instance, in my time with the site, I’ve earned over $330 for the Save the Children, and other users have gotten nearly $40,000 for it. I only spend a few dozen minutes on the website every week, but that’s enough to make a significant impact. Not to mention you’re helping the businesses and researchers behind the surveys you’re answering by providing them valuable data, so your voice truly does matter.
Secondly, every survey you complete gives you a chance to win a $100 Amazon gift card. Even though winning one hundred smackers sounds appealing, I wouldn’t get my hopes up. Each entry only has a 1 in 60,000 chance of winning, as the website’s fine print explains. Plus, you have to spend a few seconds watching a prize wheel spin since opening another window or tab will stop it. However, I’ve sometimes kicked back, cranked up some tunes and sat around spinning the wheel again and again. I just don’t consider that one of my main incentives for participating in SurveyMonkey.
Regardless, Dave Goldberg has helped lead a site that benefits everyone involved. We the people let our voices be heard. Researchers discover what we think to aid them in their studies. Businesses figure out our needs and preferences to deliver the best products possible. Charities receive funding to help improve the lives of others. If this isn’t a win-win scenario, I don’t know what is.
Next time you consider dilly-dallying online by watching silly YouTube videos or checking your social media sites again and again, remember that a quick visit to SurveyMonkey could give everyone involved a little boost.
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