How brands can use social media polling

Twitter polls have been around for a while, but with Facebook Messenger and Instagram more recently adding similar features to their respective platforms – polls are having a bit of a resurgence.

This also looks to be due to the rise of teen polling app, Polly, which gained huge popularity on Snapchat last year.

So, what are the benefits for brands on social media? Here’s a look at how some are using polls, and the reasons why they can be an effective part of an overall social media strategy.

1. Feedback and insight

According to a survey by Wunderman, 79% of consumers say they want brands to actively demonstrate that they ‘understand and care’ about them before they make a purchase.

Polls are a great way to demonstrate this, allowing brands to ask for direct feedback on products or general customer experience, and in turn, letting users know that their opinion is valued.

People are perhaps more likely to respond on social media, too, especially in comparison to email surveys or requests that create more disruption to the user experience. Responding to a poll takes little thought or consideration, making it an easy and seamless way for brands to gain insight.

This is particularly true for Instagram Stories (which added the option for polls last October) – whereby users are already actively engaged in content.

Starbucks is one brand that has made use of this, creating polls to gain quick insight into customer preferences. In the story shown below, the poll simply asks users whether they would be more inclined to choose a pink or violet drink. There’s not much difference in the product to begin with, but with a quick poll, the brand is able to gain insight into these minute customer preferences.

2. Driving decisions

As well as gaining insight into how products or marketing is faring with customers, polls can also be used to drive future decisions. Again, for example, Starbucks might choose to put its pink or violet drink on the menu (and disregard the other) based on poll results.

In a similar way, polls can also be used to help brands make more immediate decisions, with users aware that they have the power to create a specific outcome.

eBay has used this tactic in the past, using polls to determine what special offers to roll out. As well as increasing engagement, this is a particularly good way to create positive sentiment towards the brand, with users feeling satisfied if they end up getting the offer they want.

#eBayChoice: Do you want to unlock an awesome deal on an Apple Watch or Fitbit Charge HR?

– eBay (@eBay)
August 14, 2016

Meanwhile, Benefit Cosmetics uses a cross-channel approach to determine social content, using an Instagram poll to determine what to include in its next Facebook video. This gives users greater control, as well as promotes the video and prompts them to check it out.

3. Entertainment and fun

While polls can generate purposeful insight, they can also be viewed as just another form of social content, with the sole aim of entertaining or informing an audience.

Due to their interactive nature, brands can also use gamification elements, using the question-based format to create a quiz rather than a simple survey.

HelloFresh uses polls in this way, asking users food and cooking-related questions before allowing them to swipe up to find out the answers. This is a particularly clever use of the format, as not only does it provide a bit of fun for followers, but it also ensures they stay invested enough to watch the whole story to the end.

GIFs are another tool that can effectively grab the user’s attention. Last year, Facebook added the option to add in GIFs into polls, creating yet another hook to engage users. One of the first brands to test the feature was 20th Century Fox, using it on its page for new movie, Kingsman: The Golden Circle.

As well as generating conversation about the movie, the use of GIFs helped it to stand out in user’s news feeds.

4. Engaging during real-time events

Polls have a real-time element attached to them, meaning they’re a great way for brands to enhance existing experiences. For example, when It comes to sporting matches, polls can be used to generate excitement and anticipation around the event.

Football clubs including Man City have previously integrated polls into Facebook content, prompting users to interact close to big games.

Similarly, polls can also be used to engage people who can’t attend events in person. Bayern Munich is another football club to do this – this time on Instagram Stories – to get fans involved on match day. The club asks users to vote using emojis to indicate their response at behind-the-scenes action. What’s more, it also lets fans vote to determine the direction of content, further immersing them into the experience (from afar).

Props to my colleagues in Munich for this awesome Instagram Stories idea! Letting fans direct it via voting. Great execution! #sportsbiz

– Cristian Nyari (@Cnyari)
October 29, 2017

5. Strengthening connections (to influencers)

Finally, while the arrival of Instagram polls spells good news for brands, it’s arguably even better for influencers. This is because influencers rely on engagement as a tangible measure of success (and indeed revenue), with polls providing another and arguably better way for followers to interact.

Polls are likely to generate higher engagement as they provide the opportunity for a two-way interaction between fans and influencers, with the latter asking direct questions to make people feel more involved. This is different to fans merely liking or leaving a comment on a photo, which feels far more passive and impersonal.

At the same time, the integration of polls will benefit influencers, as it means they can gauge general opinion without having to deal with individual responses via DMs or comments. This might be opinion on what kind of content their audience wants to see, or feedback on previous work. In turn, brands are also likely to take note of these results, potentially helping when it comes to forging partnerships and creating campaigns.

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