Twitter Polls For Input From Your Audience

Dog or cat?

Bandit or Ginger?

Decisions, decisions. Some are simple, made in an instant; others require a process of mulling over or sleeping on before a thoughtful and clear answer emerges. Often we seek help to accelerate the decision making process, gathering input and various perspectives from others. With a serious choice before us, we may ask dear friends, trusted family members or industry colleagues. If the decision is of a lighter variety, today’s approach often includes a post on Facebook or Twitter. Social media provides a quick and simple way to connect with others for a variety of purposes.

Advice and more

Whether we’re seeking to expand reach of our blog posts, promote an event or advance our credibility, there’s surely an online platform to do so. Unlike mass media, social platforms enable us to target content to a specific subset of our audience. Used effectively, targeting tools generate engagement from listeners in the form of replies, comments, re-tweets and shares.

We want your opinion (pronto)

Twitter recently introduced new functionality which encourages engagement and helps in decision making: Twitter polls. Consistent with today’s desire for simplicity and brevity, Twitter polls allow a choice of only two options and stay live for 24 hours. While a responder might take a few moments to ponder the query, the question itself — and the choices — are brief and to the point. Twitter polls enable you to get quick feedback and to generate dialogue and engagement.

The launch of Twitter polls is gradual. Once the functionality is available on your account, the poll icon will appear when you click on the status update box (What’s happening?). See the desktop and mobile versions below.

Twitter pollTwitter poll mobile viewGot words? Not too many, please

twitter poll 116 charactersOnce you click on the poll icon, a sub-window will open as shown at right, where you include your two response alternatives.

Simple to use? Absolutely. But crafting your question and the two choices may be a bit challenging: For polls, Twitter’s 140 character limit includes both the question and the responses. Your 140 character count has suddenly shrunk to 116 characters. Choose your words carefully!

Key features of Twitter polls

  • Surprising anonymity: how individual responders vote is not visible publicly
  • Time remaining to vote is displayed when viewing a poll tweet
  • While a poll is open, the number of poll responses is publicly visible, but the response percentages are visible only to responders
  • Polls can be re-tweeted and accumulate votes, which are included within your original tweet
  • Once a poll has closed, the number of poll responses and percentages are visible publicly as part of the original tweet
  • Twitter’s 140 character limit includes both the question and the two response alternatives

How can you use Twitter polls?

While Twitter polls are really just a new approach to soliciting input, creative answers are still evolving. For the most part, the polls we’ve seen so far are playful, so they may be most useful for consumer-focused businesses and brands.

Can you get meaningful feedback from a Twitter poll? Buffer offers some initial ideas for ways to use polls, including “lean market research.” Lean is right; 116 characters means waste not a word.

Not sure how to capitalize on social media to increase your visibility? We’re here to help.


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