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tweet-155281_640Twitter polls, which debuted last year, have yet to become a widespread marketing and PR tactic. Businesses may be missing its potential benefits. Twitter Polls can be a valuable way to gain feedback and increase exposure.

Like other types of online surveys to produce publicity, Twitter Polls let you easily create simple polls. The polls contain a question and up to four responses. Twitter users can see how much time they have to vote, how many people have voted, and results as a percentage. Participants’ answers are not shared publicly, which means marketers cannot target users based on their votes. After a poll is finished, results can be viewed publicly. Polls are a native feature, meaning they are embedded directly into the tweets.

Evidently trying to spark interest in the feature, Twitter recently suggested four ways businesses can use the polls.

Tap into trending topics. Twitter conversations cover practically all news events in all categories, from global to local news. Include event hashtags to increase your reach and connect with people using the hashtag. For instance, a hair salon asked “Which hairstyle do you think we’ll see the most of at tonight’s #Emmys? #Emmys2016.” You can determine the duration of your poll, up to seven days. If you’re running a poll for a specific event, select the time frame that coordinates best.

Obtain feedback to help guide your business strategy. You can ask customers questions such as which product updates they’d like or what type of content they’d like. A yoga studio used a poll to help plan its class schedule. Consulting company @bixal used a poll to ask new followers what type of content they desire.

Discover product preferences. Discover customers’ favorite products. Sock company @BOMBAS asks the fitness community about their preferences by using the hashtag #WorkoutWednesday.

Ask lifestyle questions related to your business. Questions don’t need to relate directly to your business. Ask lifestyle questions that resonate with your audience. Tracking device company @TheTrackR asked what items people misplace the most: keys, phone, wallet or remote?

“If you can pose an interesting question that gets people thinking, that can help highlight the value your business provides, which can be a great way to get people thinking and considering your brand,” writes Andrew Hutchinson at Social Media Today.

More Twitter Poll Tips

Content crafter Ash Read at Buffer offers additional tips for including Twitter Polls in PR and marketing strategies.

Pin the tweet with the poll to the top of your timeline to attract attention and additional votes, as well as to display the poll’s results.

Have fun. Polls don’t always have to be serious. Humor can be an excellent way to boost engagement.

React to real-time events. Request reactions to events as they happen, such as sports events or television shows.

Embed polls in a blog post. Embedding tweets with polls into your blog can increase reach, drive more attention to your Twitter profile and add an interactive element to the post.

Promote the poll. Use hashtags, Twitter influencers and Twitter ads to promote participation in your poll.

Risks of Twitter Polls

Although polls can help boost engagement, which in turn increases the likelihood that your tweets will appear in followers’ feeds, they do pose drawbacks. Results may be quick but are far from scientific and organizations should be cautious about their accuracy.

In addition, you might attract few responses, which could be embarrassing, Hutchinson notes.

“Just like Twitter itself, polls won’t be for everyone, but they can be a good way to add something new and different into your social media marketing mix,” Hutchinson concludes.

Bottom Line: Twitter Polls can help businesses obtain feedback about their products, increase engagement and publicize their products. In addition, they can provide PR and marketing with valuable input about what types of content audiences prefer. Although the pools may not be for all brands or all occasions, they are a promotional tactic worth considering.

William J. Comcowich founded and served as CEO of CyberAlert LLC, the predecessor of Glean.info. He is currently serving as Interim CEO and member of the Board of Directors. Glean.info provides customized media monitoring, measurement and analytics solutions across all types of traditional and social media.