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On March 20, 2023, multiple African countries went into nationwide protests and strikes. In a last-minute decision, GeoPoll decided to conduct a set of surveys in Kenya, Nigeria, and South Africa to assess the situation on the ground, as well as citizen perceptions of the protests called by respective opposition leaders. In a perfect example of how fast GeoPoll can run surveys, the entire process – from questionnaire development to report writing – took less than a day.

I sat down with GeoPoll’s Marketing Insights Manager, Francis Bodine, and Survey Operations Manager, Wycliffe Litabalia, to find out how the team managed to pull such a feat.

Why did we decide to do the survey on the Opposition protests, and what did we cover?

Francis Bodine: As news about the strikes and protests in multiple countries spread across social media, we wanted to find out the intentions and perceptions of people on the ground. GeoPoll has extensive experience and expertise in conducting research in times of crisis through mobile methodologies, so we quickly got to work drafting the questionnaire.

Take me through the questionnaire development. How did you decide on the questions asked?

Fran: We recently conducted surveys exploring the cost of living crisis in Kenya, Nigeria, and South Africa (amongst other countries across the globe) and the elections in Nigeria, so we were very familiar with the issues behind the protests. We had some ideas on the most pertinent issues and various media reports. Like with most of our research projects, it was a team effort. GeoPoll staff located in Kenya, Nigeria, and South Africa and our Social and Governance experts collaborated to ensure that we were asking the right questions in the right way to gather relevant and meaningful data, allowing us to develop a targeted and effective survey tool quickly.

Which mode did we use, and why did we use that mode?

Wycliffe Litabalia: The primary mode here was SMS, augmented by Mobile Web. These two methods were ideal since they are some of the fastest methodologies for collecting data, especially in the regions GeoPoll mostly operates in, and simply the fastest self-administered modes in the three countries. As we needed the results quickly, SMS was ideal, but Mobile Web is also initially sent via a single SMS and is more affordable so it made sense to combine the two.

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So, what’s the process like?

Wycliffe: My team (Survey Operations) typically drives survey fieldwork. On receiving the questionnaire, we first conducted a quality control check and then scripted it on the GeoPoll platform. In the questionnaire stage, we ensure that it is precise and straightforward and question routing is on point so that we can get fast and reliable data. We then tailored the survey for both the SMS and mobile web modes and went to field.

A major benefit of GeoPoll is that we have good, indexed databases, so sample selection is easy. We define the quotas that make up a representative survey and send the survey out. In this case, the stratified sample needed to be nationally representative – genders, age groups, locations, and other demographics represent the actual national population. We have templates for that built into the platform, which are automatically monitored to ensure we are getting the right mix.

The results also came in in real-time, so the team had minute-by-minute status updates and preliminary results while the survey was in the field.

How fast did it take to analyze the data?

Fran: The survey launched at noon on Monday March 20, as the protests were happening and gathered a sample size of more than 400 respondents per country (1,285 total) in a matter of hours. I was on the client side and we have a client portal to check the results in real-time. We also use PowerBI, which directly integrates into the GeoPoll Platform, so, as the data was rolling in, we quickly developed a Microsoft PowerBI dashboard to chart and analyze the responses to each survey question, filterable by country, age, and gender.

We began drafting a report highlighting the key findings and insights and updated it throughout the day. After closing out the study around 5:00 pm local time in each country, we finalized the blog post, gathered feedback from colleagues in each country, and published the post first thing Tuesday morning.

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What’s the bottom line?

Wycliffe: I believe I mentioned this to you in another interview. I have been at GeoPoll for quite some time, and I am still amazed by what we can do. I mean, we drafted the survey, went to the field, closed all three markets, and wrote the report – all in less than six hours!

Our mobile-based methodology offers several advantages that make it a popular choice for data collection. One of the key benefits is its speed – data can be collected quickly and efficiently. In addition, the convenience of the methodology allows respondents to share their voices from the comfort of their own devices, regardless of their location. This also enables a wider audience to be reached within a short period of time. High response rates are also a noteworthy advantage, as mobile is one of the cheapest ways to collect survey data. Furthermore, the ease of monitoring responses in real-time ensures that high-quality data can be obtained at the end of the process.

Fran: This study was implemented by GeoPoll using our own proprietary mobile research platform. The questionnaire was designed by GeoPoll researchers and conducted via SMS and mobile web technologies. This multi-modal approach enabled us to reach a diverse mix of respondents quickly and cost-effectively.

Remote research methodologies provide safe and in-depth access to people on the ground in times of crisis when it is otherwise impossible to gather first-hand data.


To learn more about GeoPoll’s research capabilities, please contact us.