Twitter has many features that you can use but do not have to use. One feature that you should know about and consider for your Twitter strategy are Twitter polls.
This type of tweet allows you to ask your audience questions and get a weighted answer from your Twitter crowd. While polls will not provide you with scientific statistics, they can give you a first idea of what the majority of the Twitter people would answer.
What are Twitter Polls
Basically, Twitter polls are a native, a special kind of tweet with which you ask Twitter people a multiple-choice question. People can choose from between 2 and 4 answer options – in addition, they can comment on your poll.
Before Twitter released Twitter polls in late 2015, some people already tried to use Twitter for something similar to polls. They asked a question, gave answer options, and asked their audience to like the tweet if they chose answer option 1 and retweet the question tweet if they chose answer option 2. This was not a very accurate system of polling. But it tremendously increased engagement on a Twitter account if you got many people to take part in the poll.
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How to set up a Twitter Poll
Today, setting up a poll is very easy. You can simply click the poll symbol on Twitter when you set up a tweet.
The poll option will now open. By default, the poll shows 2 answer options that you can fill. You can provide up to 4 answers for your Twitter audience to choose from.
You can also select who can answer your poll.
If you want to keep the poll to a hand-selected group of people, you can mention people in the text of the poll tweet – if you need more space to mention more Twitter accounts you can add another tweet.
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You can set a duration for your poll. In this period people can answer the poll. Per default the poll duration is set to 1 day – you can choose a period of up to 7 days – or make a quick poll and chose a shorter interval of an hour or just a couple of minutes. Please keep in mind that if your audience is small only very few people will see the poll within a short period but a longer period will not necessarily lead to more answers if the engagement on your poll dies down after a short time.
As long as the poll is active only the initiator of the poll can see how people voted so far, everyone else can only see how many people voted and how long the poll will still be open for votes. Once the poll is closed, everyone can see the results.
If someone retweets your poll the poll will show up as a poll in the feed of the followers of the retweeting account and these followers can also vote. Thus, an interesting poll can spread very far.
Are Twitter polls anonymous?
No one will ever see how a single Twitter user voted, results are displayed as a summary of all votes. Unless someone comments on a poll, you cannot even see who voted or engaged with a poll. Twitter also promises that they don’t sell the data from polls.
How to make a Twitter Poll spread
If you mentioned everybody in the tweet who should answer the poll you may not have to consider how to reach a larger audience – for all other polls, you want to reach as many people as possible.
You can pin your Twitter poll to the top of your profile page. Whenever you make a new poll, you can pin that new poll and have it replace whatever you have pinned to the top of your Twitter profile before.
Every retweet you earn and every comment, like or vote increases the engagement of your poll tweet. That means that your poll will reach a larger audience and show up for more people via the top tweets feed.
Here are some ideas to increase the reach of your Twitter poll:
- Ask people to comment with additional comments or answer options that you missed in the poll.
- Ask people to retweet the poll
- Mention some Twitter accounts that may be willing to retweet the poll – don’t mention random Twitter users with large followers numbers, rather aim for friends, colleagues, or experts on the topic.
- If you have an email list and are running a Twitter poll with a question that could be of interest to your subscribers, you can send a newsletter and ask your audience to check the poll and answer or retweet.
- Embed your Twitter poll in a related blog post for more attention
- Consider using hashtags – some on-topic hashtags can have a huge impact.
How to use Twitter Polls to increase engagement
The Twitter feed is no longer all chronological – the default Twitter feed is the top tweet feed which shows the “best” tweets to people on Twitter instead of showing ALL tweets from people who you follow.
The most obvious factor to make your tweets appear in the feed of your followers in engagement. And that means that increased engagement on your tweets will result in more people seeing your tweets.
From a marketing standpoint that means: it is all about engagement!
As of today, Twitter polls are not an overused feature. That means that a poll in your feed is still an eye-catcher where a simple text tweet or even a tweet with a stock photo may easily get lost in the clutter.
people are more likely to respond to polls than to answer the same question with a tweet. The reason seems to be obvious: You can answer and engage with a poll with a simple click while an answer to a question otherwise needs some thought and writing. A poll usually gets more reactions and increased engagement when compared to a simple tweet.
The broader the question and the more people are able to answer the poll the more reactions will you get. Be aware that only very few people from your following will be able to answer expert niche questions and thus these types of questions may not inspire the engagement you were looking for. Simply, straight to the point questions that people can answer on a spur of the moment will usually yield the most engagement.
When you get comments on your poll, answer them. Keep the conversation running. Engagement goes both ways. You cannot expect your followers to engage with you if you are not engaging with them.
Benefits of using Twitter Polls
Now, why are so many people (including me) so excited about this Twitter poll feature? The answer is simple: There are so many great possibilities with these Twitter polls, and they are easy and fun to use.
Apart from increasing the engagement that your tweets earn on Twitter, polls can give you some more benefits.
- Polls can give you valuable insights into your audience
- Polls can give you ideas for posts, features, products
- Polls allow you to start the conversations with your audience
- Polls allow you to show that you care about your audience – if you use them
What can you do with Twitter polls?
Do you need some inspiration for what you can do with Twitter polls? It may be hard to find examples of Twitter polls in your Twitter feed. That makes it hard to learn from other people’s great poll examples, but it also means there is a huge opportunity for you if you want to use Twitter polls.
Here are some ideas and examples of how Twitter polls are used and some ideas about how you could use them:
When Twitter first released Polls to a limited number of people, they gave it to sports organizations and media for testing. There are endless options for engaging your audience with polls in sports.
Image source: Twitter Blog
1. Ask for the outcome of a Game or competition
2. Ask which player should play
3. Ask if the referee made the right decision
And much more.
The media always has a need for public opinions. Before elections, with controversial topics, with fun questions, and more. Public opinion now comes much more accessible – well at least restricted to the people on Twitter. But for a variety of questions, the Twitter crowd should give a pretty good idea of the public opinion. (Maybe you should not ask what is their favorite social network…).
4. Ask for opinions on popular and current questions
5. Ask who people would vote
Organizers of events can engage their attendees.
Often at events, a Hashtag is given for the event, and people tweet around the occasion. Often the hashtag feeds are rather slow and boring.
With polls organizers now can push activity and inspire a ton of conversation about the events – even long before the event starts:
6. Ask what would be a good topic for the event
7. Ask which venue to choose
8. Ask for the best date for your event
9. Ask who you should invite for speaker on a certain topic
10. Ask who was the best speaker
11. Ask for feedback on the organization of the event
You can find more ideas on how to engage your audience around a conference on the Eventbrite Blog.
Poll ideas for bloggers, entrepreneurs, and small business owners
12. Do some research
With Twitter polls, you can now do your own quick and dirty research on a topic you want to blog about. A little statistic added to your article may well add value to your posts. While this form of research can never be scientific, it may well give a first impression or tendency to a question.
13. Ask for content preferences
You can ask whether your audience wants a webinar or a video, an article or a podcast, an online course or an eBook.
14. Ask for content you should cover
You can also ask your audience which topics you should cover and what information they would love to get from you.
15. Ask for Product Feedback
Which new features would your audience like? What do your users like best about your product? What prize would they pay for a planned upgrade? Which features of your product do they use?
16. Get help for choosing the best headline
Finding a good headline is always hard. Even with experience sometimes a headline won’t work. With Twitter polls, you can ask beforehand, which headline options your audience would click.
17. Use polls to help your customer service
Ask what is their favorite way of getting in touch for inquiries.
18. Gather insights about your audience
You can use the polls to ask where your audience is located, when they are online or how they use Twitter. When you want to optimize your activity directly on Twitter, this is the way to go. Which of the influencers from your niche are they also following?
19. Let the audience vote on your Twitter activity
What kind of tweets do they like: discussions, blog posts, news,… How many tweets do they see from you or how many would they like to get?
20. Ask them in which network they would also like to follow you
Maybe the results of the polls cannot always serve as solid proof and only give an indication. But your audience will most likely appreciate your efforts to get in touch and include their opinion in your activity and development.
Twitter Poll Examples
Do you want to see Twitter Polls in action? Here are some examples of how brands are using Twitter polls!
Eventbrite is an even and ticketing website. They use Twitter polls to get insights from their audience (and potential customers) of what kind of events they would pay for.
This poll may serve two purposes. Eventbrite gest valuable information from their audience and at the same time they raise the attention of their audience to upcoming events and may nudge them to book an event.
2. Benjamin Rivers
Benjamin Rivers is an independent game developer. He used Twitter polls to get insights from his audience on how to pursue his game development and what type of audio his audience prefers.
Scientist Sylvain used a Twitter poll to see whether his fellow scientists send their papers to other researchers before submitting them. This would have been very interesting to me when I was still working in science…
4. Cheesecake Factory
Twitter polls do not always have to be about something important or even a real earnest question. Sometimes it is all about some fun. These polls are often the most engaging!
Cheesecake factory obviously went for the fun factor and asked how their audience would react to a surprise cheesecake 🙂
What else to keep in mind when using Twitter polls?
Keep in mind that the Twitter crowd that you are asking your poll questions may already be a biased crowd. Asking on Twitter which of the social networks your followers prefer may give you a large majority for Twitter – but is that answer really telling you anything when asked to active Twitter users?
Twitter polls should always have a relationship with your marketing topic. Don’t aim for too far off-topic polls. That will most of the time not bring you the best results.
A little humor can never hurt in a poll. I found that polls that I create with a smile on my face usually get far more engagement than overly serious polls.
Consider the timing of your poll and when your audience is online. The lifetime of a poll is limited. The more attention and engagement your poll reaches in the first couple of minutes or even the first hour, the more people you will reach. If you post your poll at a time when most of your audience is offline, you lose a huge opportunity to engage more people.
Don’t be afraid to try Twitter polls just because your audience is still small. What is the worst that can happen? You may not get thousands of votes but even a couple of votes is more engagement than most of your tweets probably earn on a good day.
So far engagement on Twitter polls seems fairly strong compared to other tweets. While some of the euphorias may wear off when the poll feature loses some of the shine and more people start using them, but my guess is that it will remain one of the more engaging options on Twitter: Fun to use, easy to set up and easy to answer. The feature seems to agree very well with the fast-moving Twitter world and tremendously help in building a more engaged and connected relationship with your Twitter followers
Try Twitter polls and have fun!
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