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Benefits of Running Polls on Twitter

Posted on Jan 5th, 2010
Written by Lee Odden
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    If you’re “on Twitter”, no doubt you’ve noticed different Tweeple running polls from time to time. We ran our first poll on Twitter over 3 years ago which resulted in the post, “Guide to Twitter as a Tool for Marketing and PR“, offering insights from other marketing and PR professionals experienced with the Twitter web site.

    Polls have been popular interactive tools on web sites as far back as Angelfire and Geocities. Polls have been popular widgets on blogs too. Polls on Twitter are effective for a variety of reasons including the real time feedback and mass, yet relevant, reach that can be achieved.

    To understand how running polls on Twitter may or may not be right for you, read on for 10 benefits to running Tweet Polls:

    1. Find new, smart people to follow. Connections are essential for a productive Twitter experience and that means connecting with the right people. Twitter polls should use a common hash tag (ex: #mypoll) that will tie the Questions and Answers together. In doing so, the followers of your poll participants will be exposed to the Q & A and potentially participate.  Others’ use of the common hashtag will reveal their replies and you may find new and interesting people to follow.

    2. Collect great insights and tips from your followers. This is an obvious benefit for any poll. Asking the right questions can evoke some very useful tips and perspectives from your Twitter network that can be useful to you as well as the community at large.  You can get tough questions answered that many others are searching for.

    3. Create an opportunity to engage with your Twitter network.  Connections are the Yin and Engagement is the Yang of social participation. They feed on each other. Polls can create an engagement opportunity that allows your network to “show their stuff” on topics of interest, teaching you more about who you’re connected to and vice versa.

    4. Create an opportunity for your Twitter network to engage with each other. If you’ve successfully built a network or two or three on the social web, you know it’s not “all about you”.  Helping social network participants meet their needs is a cornerstone of effective social networking. Poll respondents and observers using the common Tweet poll hashtag will benefit from the same exposure to interesting insights and people as you will. Successful polls with this objective quickly spawn discussions on various threads related to the original poll questions.

    5. Crowdsource blog, article or conference presentation content that rewards participants. Asking questions on Twitter and then using the answers in a PowerPoint or blog post is an easy way to generate content. Doing so in a way that recognizes those who contributed ideas via Twitter is even more powerful. Let you network know you’ve used their feedback and list them as contributors in the PPT deck or article. Often times, they’ll tweet or re-tweet links back to the content driving even more traffic and attention. People will work for a living, but they’ll die for recognition.

    6. Identify potential candidates or consultants for hire or marketing partners based on their answers and interaction. It’s common to have casual connections with others on Twitter. I don’t follow everyone myself, but do follow about 2,000 people. I know just over a third of those people in real life. Poll responses show insight from followers that helps me get to know them better. Some of which, might be people that would be a great addition to our Social SEO Agency or whom we can hire for certain projects.

    7. Build goodwill. Recognize certain Twitter contacts by dropping questions just for them to answer, then acknowledge their answers. This tactic isn’t for everyone of course and it’s effectiveness is based on real questions and real answers. Manufactured interactions are most often weak and of little value. If there is a person you’d like to hire, get hired by, or connect with in some other way, building goodwill can reduce barriers and provide an opportunity for dialog.

    8. Attract new followers to yourself that notice the sudden use of a certain hashtag and the Q/A. The polls on Twitter that I’ve run have not been particularly effective for growing a quantity of followers, but the quality (as in relevance of connection) has been very good. The hash tag takes the “conversation” outside of the threaded discussion within your own Twitter network. It is essential though, that the text used in the hash tag make sense towards the topic being discussed. Ex: #blogseo or #veganrecipes or #crmsoftware

    9. Attract new followers to your Twitter network through the smarts of their participation. As mentioned in benefit #4, you can help your Twitter network gain benefit from interacting with each other through participation on Twitter polls. When one of your connections answers a poll question, their response can catch the attention of other Twitter users following the hash tag. This extension can lead to more followers for the members of your network that participate.

    10. Flush out survey questions on Twitter to see which questions to use, or what syntax to use in a more formal survey. If you are in the business of conducting research on a larger scale, sharing informal survey questions on Twitter can be a very useful litmus test for certain questions. Content, syntax, relevance and timeliness can all be tested so that the questions used in the formal survey are better suited for response.

    Bonus: Build your own credibility. Show you’re a thinker with succinct, smart and timely questions on a topic your followers care about. If you can consistently show the ability to bring people together in a valuable way, it builds trust, shows leadership and boosts credibility with your network.

    What benefits have you realized from running polls on Twitter?

    Photo credit, olivepress.

    Speaking of polls, please take and share this TopRankBlog Poll that studies the SEO effect of blogs.