Back in October, Twitter introduced a new feature called Twitter Polls, which, as the name implies, enables you to poll your Twitter audience on any topic you see fit.
Initially, polls were restricted to 24 hours and two possible responses on each poll for users to select, but Twitter's since expanded the responses to four, with a time limit of anywhere from 5 minutes to 7 days. It's an interesting tool - while not a game-changer, it does add a fun new element to the Twitter experience, and as noted by Twitter in a new post, brands have found some interesting ways to use the function to generate engagement and gather responses from their audience.
Twitter's highlighted seven ways brands are using polls to best effect - they are as follows:
1. "Regularly post branded polls"
Some brands have already adopted Twitter Polls into their weekly social routines, with TV host Stephen Colbert and Marvel Entertainment using them to gather audience feedback on engaging queries.
Who wins in a fight: Steven with a 'v' or Stephen with a 'ph'? #FridayNightFights- Stephen Colbert (@StephenAtHome) January 23, 2016
#MarvelQuestionoftheWeek: Which mighty Asgardian weapon from the comics would you choose to wield?- Marvel Entertainment (@Marvel) January 15, 2016
This is an interesting and engaging way to use the option, prompting regular engagement with the brand, which, of course, will help bring them back to your social properties not only to see the question of the week, but also to see the results. It may seem like a basic level of engagement - these tweets would just slip through people's feeds and they could easily just click and move on - but even just having that presence, giving your audience a reason to keep your brand top of mind and to engage with you on some level, can help improve recall and affiliation, which, in turn, helps boost brand loyalty.
2. "Give people a say in decisions"
This is probably one of the top ways to use Twitter Polls - inviting your audience to contribute to actual brand and product decisions.
We're at #CES2016 & letting you choose what we cover. Vote now and watch our Periscope tomorrow!- Amazon (@amazon) January 7, 2016
Not only is this great for feedback purposes, but it also helps build brand affinity by making your social community a part of what's happening, by bringing them into the actual process. This then gives them more connection to the actual decision, and more reason to pay attention to the final product. Engagement, in general, is a great way to build your social communities, and being able to invite users into the process, even in a simple way, can also help by showing people that you're listening, that you value their opinions, and that you're keen to make them a part of an actual community, rather than simply broadcasting your brand message.
3. "Tap into live events by hosting related conversations"
As noted by Twitter:
"Using a Twitter Poll during live events can increase your brand relevance by putting you in the middle of what your followers are talking and thinking about right now. Then, people can also look to your poll later for group consensus about what's happening. During live events try asking your followers questions related to what's happening."
It's an interesting angle on newsjacking and tapping into trending topics, and done right - and on-brand - it could be a good way to engage your audience, utilizing a topic that they're already interested in.
This can also help better align your content - if you were to conduct a poll among your Twitter users and find that the majority lean one way or another, that can then help you decide how you could use that data in future communications. If you were to find that the majority of your audience likes one political candidate over another, for example, that might better inform you about what political issues are likely of more relevance to them, which could then help you better focus your marketing efforts by touching on the key issues highlighted by the more popular candidate and how they relate to your offerings, if relevant.
4. "Conduct market research on your products or services"
The most obvious potential benefit of Twitter Polls, from a brand perspective, is in immediate audience feedback, particularly around what they like/don't like about what you're doing. You need to have a few options under consideration, of course, but if you have variable choices or you're looking to make a decision about a new product addition, Twitter Polls can help give you some sense of what your audience is after - and that feedback might just help validate your final decision.
If you could only pick one #DoritosLocosTaco, which one would it be?- Taco Bell (@tacobell) January 8, 2016
5. "Create polls on topics relevant to your brand"
Twitter suggests that by creating on-topic polls, relative to your brand, you may actually be able to get your audience thinking about your products or services, which might then lead to them connecting with your brand.
The long weekend starts now. What are your plans?#AirbnbLongWeekend- Airbnb (@Airbnb) January 16, 2016
In this example, AirBnB's question is designed to get their audience thinking about holiday plans, not so much to answer the query in itself, but to inspire them to start considering their next holiday, and how AirBnB might be able to facilitate such desires.
6. "Promote specific products"
Similar to conducting market research (point 4), by polling your audience on their thoughts around your products, you're inviting them into the process, for one - but you're also subconsciously planting reminders of your products into their heads. This can be particularly effective when you're trying to promote new products which the audience may not be aware of.
Because the feedback mechanism is so simple, polls can be very effective in this regard - people might not want to read your ad or blog post examining the features of your latest products, but a quick poll question can have similar effect in getting your audience to think about your offerings.
7. "Have a little fun with followers"
Depending on your brand voice, Twitter Polls can be a great opportunity to engage with your fans in a fun way.
Remember, the key word in 'social media' is 'social' - people are on social to voice their opinions, to share in the conversation and interact with others. In this sense, having some fun, showing the human side of your business, can be a great way to show that there actually are humans on the other end of the line, that your brand is run by real people, thereby making your brand more relatable, more social, be definition.
As noted, while Polls haven't exactly set the social world on fire, and their significance has likely been somewhat overlooked in amongst the other doom and gloom stories around Twitter more widely, they are an interesting addition, and can be used to boost engagement, especially because they're so easy - it's much more engaging to read a question and tick an answer than it is to fill in a feedback form or even follow a link to another site. There's some great tips here, great ways to use polls to good effect - it's worth having a think about how you might be able to use them for your business, and how they could help spread your brand message across the platform.