Sookio Labs: Creative ways to use Twitter polls

Twitter has introduced polls, a new way to ‘engage followers by inviting them to vote’. We've looked around to find the useful, creative and amusing ways they are being used, and try them out in the Sookio Lab to outline how you can make the most of them for your brand.

Twitter polls: the basics

  • Available on native apps and on the Twitter website
  • You can add up to four answers, you must have at least two
  • You can’t see who voted, only the number and percentage score. This information is public too
  • Polls can be voted on for 24 hours
  • The poll behaves like any other tweet; you can add hashtags, mention users, like, retweet, pin and comment on it.
  • You can’t add images or video to your poll

How to start and use polls

  • Start a new tweet
  • Select the pie chart icon
  • Write the question or tweet to accompany your poll, and 2-4 answers to vote on
  • Check back 24 hours later for the final result 

Until now many Twitter users were conducting polls using the retweet and like function – eg ‘RT if you like it, like if you don’t.’ This was a clumsy approach, and often used to get ‘fake’ engagement by brands. The poll function is niftier and we hope will reduce all that shameless baiting for retweets!

It is a simple feature but polls do offer lots of opportunity to talk to your followers in new and interesting ways. If you get the tone of voice right – either being relevant, funny or in tune with your followers’ opinions – polls can offer rewarding engagement. Here are our favourite creative ways to use polls.

Add a dose of humour (or sarcasm)

As a brand, it can sometimes be tricky to inject humour into your tweets. How to avoid coming across as too sarcastic or snarky, or to avoid the joke falling flat?

Using a poll can really help. Think about what is unique about your product or brand personality, or most of all what makes people laugh. We love this poll from Yorkshire Tea, it is simple, relevant and funny.

Strengthen your (brand) personality

Much like Yorkshire Tea, the account Very British Problems taps into the things that really make us Brits tick – debates about whether to putt the milk in first in our tea, queuing etiquette and the right sauce for bacon.

Think about what makes up the world of your followers and design a poll that they can’t help but vote on. You should also consider what makes a good question, try not to use leading questions but do try to provoke strong opinions and debate.

What to do with all that lovely, lovely data?

Don’t stop at the poll; use the results to provide visual content for tweets and other platforms.

This poll from Anglia Ruskin Distance Learning uses an eye-catching branded graphic to present the poll results. This extends the life of the poll, making it a useful asset which could be used in a blog post or complementary social media channels like Facebook or Instagram.    

Ask and engage the audience

Whether it is for a blog post, a new product or an event you are holding – you can use polls to gauge feeling on a subject.

We don’t think it should decide something very complex but it can help you find out what your customers like or help you choose a topic for an upcoming blog post. You can also use it to start a good old-fashioned debate – we couldn’t help but pick on the Oxford comma!

Keep it lighthearted

Don’t take yourself too seriously! Like anything on Twitter, there is room to be stupid as well, these are some of our favourites. We like the short sentences used, which gives you scope to be pithy and witty in a bitesize manner. Topical polls are also fantastic for engagement, and people are bound to have an opinion!  

What next for Twitter polls?

We've already seen Twitter increase the number of answers from 2 to 4, and we think they'll keep changing how it works based on user feedback, and of course for their own goals! 

Like other Twitter features there is a chance that polls could be used as part of the advertising suite.

Being able to see who voted on your poll would give advertisers a way to engage with specific people and target ads to them based on their votes. At the moment it is anonymous, but we wouldn’t be surprised to see Twitter change this if the feature is popular.

This could also be used for competitions; if someone answers a question correctly they could be put in a draw to win a prize.

At the moment you can add a link to your poll but not images or video, this could come in the future to make it a richer experience.   

Twitter polls are easy to set up and monitor so why not give them a go? What will you ask?

Social media strategy

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