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5 Easy Ways to Find Survey Participants for Free

Do you want to NOT spend a fortune gathering responses for academic studies, market research, or idea validation? Then you’ve landed in the right place. We’ve put together a detailed list of 5 easy ways to find survey participants for free. Why? Because research should be accessible to everyone, whether you’ve got funding for it or not.

So, without further ado, here are the top tried-and-tested ways you can get survey responses for free:

#1. Tap into your personal network

You might’ve already thought of turning to social media to get your free survey respondents. This will always be one of the most convenient ways of gathering responses. However, if you want to get actual results from this method, you’ve got to do it right. Don’t waste your time posting surveys on your Instagram story. Get up as close and personal as you virtually can by sending out your survey individually. This makes people feel more inclined to actually respond. Also, don’t be shy to call in a favor or two; ask your community if they have access to a mailing list you can send your survey to. Or perhaps someone works at a company that would be willing to distribute it there. Let your people know what you need!

Good to know: Slide your survey into your friends and family’s DMs. They are easily accessible and more likely to take part in your study, especially if you contact them directly. This is called a convenience sample and usually delivers around 5-30 free survey responses.

#2. Get out and hustle

One of the simplest ways to find free research participants will always be to go out to a busy spot and ask people to fill out your survey or questionnaire. People are more likely to help you if you ask them face-to-face. Put on your best smile, make sure you can explain what your study is about, and get people excited about participating.

Pro tip: Choose your spot according to your target audience. Need student respondents? Head out to campus. Doing market research on shopping trends? Visit your local mall. This way you up your chances of finding the right people to participate in your survey.

#3. Facebook groups

Yes, this is the 21st century and yes, we are recommending you use Facebook. While this social media platform definitely isn’t as popular as it was a couple of years ago, it’s still a powerful tool in certain cases. Finding people for online surveys is one of them. Academics and researchers from across the world use Facebook groups to take part in mutual survey exchanges – you answer someone’s survey, and they’ll answer yours.

Some popular survey-sharing groups to get you started:

Bonus Tip: Reddit is another forum-based platform you could turn to for free respondents. Create an account for free and search for relevant communities (“subreddits”) where you can post your survey. Just be sure to adhere to the community guidelines, and double-check whether survey-posting is allowed.

#4. SurveySwap

Are we claiming that SurveySwap is one of the most effective ways to get free survey respondents? Yes, but only because it’s true. SurveySwap was founded when we started asking exactly the same question as you are now: “How and where can I find people to participate in my survey?” And better yet, “How can I do that for free?” Fast forward a bit, and we’ve already helped hundreds of researchers get survey respondents for free. How does it work? You earn credits by filling in surveys, and get respondents for your own survey in return. The process is much more streamlined than that of social media survey exchange groups, saving you time and effort.

Pros of using SurveySwap:

  1. Quick and easy solution for finding free survey responses
  2. Access to an expansive pool of candidates worldwide
  3. Higher data quality – you get real results from real people
  4. Get respondents by investing time, not money
  5. Access to a free survey builder that allows you to track responses

#5. Outreach via LinkedIn

If you’re looking for free survey responses from a niche target group (e.g. cloud engineers or landscape architects), you could reach out to individuals via LinkedIn in the same way recruiters would. This would entail sending out 20-30 personal messages a day, hoping to find some willing respondents. Naturally, the more messages you send out, the greater your chances of getting a bite. Not sure how to go about it? Hop onto YouTube and watch some videos on how to do recruiting via LinkedIn.

Pro-tip: If you’re going to use Linkedin to find free survey respondents, make sure that your own profile looks neat and professional. Add a profile picture, short bio, and list any education or career experience you might have. This makes you come across as a trustworthy individual who means business, increasing your chances of getting a bite.

BONUS: Find a sponsor

If your study’s results could benefit an organization, business or community in any way, you can ask them for funding or help in getting respondents. For example, if you’re researching brand appreciation, you could approach a brand and ask them to give you access to an existing user base to send your survey to. They might even provide funding for a paid panel of respondents to answer your survey. What’s in it for them? Mentioning the brand in your survey could serve as an advertisement for them. Alternatively, offer to share your study’s results with the brand to give them valuable insights into their target market.

Disclaimer: This method of getting survey responses usually only works if you have a larger scale study (>250 respondents) and are willing to invest lots of time and energy into finding a sponsor and convincing them to help you out.

Closing thoughts

The bottom line: if you’re looking to bypass spending money on survey respondents, you’ll have to invest some time into the matter. Of all the above – and this is us being totally objective – using SurveySwap to get free survey responses is the most time-effective option you have. With us, effort is minimal and results are guaranteed. You simply upload your survey (which can also be created using our free survey builder), earn credits by answering surveys, and watch your credits automatically turn into respondents for your own study.


  1. Can I get online survey participants without a large social media following? 
    Absolutely. In fact, responses are often better collected by reaching out to your inner circle of family and friends via direct message than it is to post your survey to large social media followings. People feel more inclined to help you when you ask them directly
  2. How can I use LinkedIn to get survey respondents?
    Reach out to your target group by sending personalized messages on LinkedIn, similar to how recruiters do. The more messages you send out, the more likely you are to get a response. Encourage engagement by explaining why your study is relevant to the specific person, and why their participation is important.
  3. Is it ethical to have friends and family answer your survey? 
    As long as they fit your target group, it is perfectly ethical to have friends and family answer your survey. Just be sure to diversify your sample (i.e don’t ONLY ask friends and family) to avoid bias.
  4. Where is the best place to get survey participants in person? 
    Wherever your target audience is most likely to be, is where you should be looking for your survey participants. For example, the best place to find student survey respondents would be on campus. Similarly, a local shopping center or mall would be a great place to find a more diverse pool of participants.
  5. How do I approach potential sponsors for my survey? 
    Approach businesses or organizations that might benefit from your study’s results. Demonstrate your study’s value to them and offer exposure or market insights as an incentive for sponsorship. Be sure to explain how the collaboration would benefit both you and their organization.
  6. What are the pros of using online survey exchange platforms to get free participants? 
    • You get access to a diverse pool of candidates
    • You participate in other people’s survey and get responses for yours in exchange
    • You can reach a large number of respondents in less time
    • Your data gets presented to you instantaneously as responses are recorded
      In addition to the above, when using a survey exchange platform like SurveySwap, you may also get access to free survey-building tools that let you create user-friendly surveys for easy online distribution.
  7. Which free survey building tools are optimized for survey exchange platforms? 
    Survey building tools like those found on SurveySwap, Qualtrics and Google Forms, are all free and optimized for survey exchange platforms.These tools allow you to customize your survey’s ending page, giving you the ability to add a unique code to track your respondents.

Ready to skip the hassle and find survey participants for free? Sign up now.

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