How Twitter Polls can help brands, or not


Twitter has recently introduced nifty features and upgrades aimed at improving the user experience. Direct Messages can now be send to groups without any character limitation. You can also now ‘Quote’ a tweet, without killing your 140-characters.

What seem to be ‘hot’ on most timelines these days is Polls – a feature which helps you to ask a question and provide options to choose from. This add-on capability will help create more interactions on Twitter, beyond retweets, replies and favorites. Even before polls were introduced, Twitter offered several options for participating in polls – tracking replies, tallying hashtag votes, or asking followers to favourite or retweet to vote this way or that.

After selectively rolling it out for some users, Twitter finally launched the Polls feature for all in October this year for iOS, Android, and desktop web. It shows up as an icon in the tweet compose box beside the “Add images” and “location” icon. Users can ask questions giving two to four options to answer from, which will be embedded in the tweet itself (reducing the character limit to 116). The poll remains active for 24 hours. The one-time-only voting is be kept confidential, and also shows the time left before the poll closes. People can also vote in polls directly from a retweet. The result (number of votes counted) is shown in percentage.

Twitter expects polls to be useful for users and brands seeking quick feedback. They are the easiest way to gather opinion from an interactive audience. Polls are expected to generate more conversations around a topic, as it makes response easier to seek, at a click of an option button, with auto- computation of voting results.

We have seen brands and institutions already using the new feature for Spreading awareness – WHO used the Twitter poll feature to spread awareness for World Antibiotic Awareness Week and #WorldToiletDay, while car manufacturer Nissan polled their audience on how they would use the Nissan GTR, and received strong engagement from it. But considering the fact that feature is in the limelight only for its ‘newness’ but offers no ‘extended’ insights, not sure how long will brands want to experiment.

Twitter’s next revelation, Moments, may bring ‘extra’ value and attention. Watch this space for more on it.

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