Twitter polls are here: How can you use them?

Twitter, it appears, is rolling out polls to all of its users:

If you want the public’s opinion on anything — what to name your dog, who will win tonight’s game, which election issue people care most about — there’s no better place to get answers than on Twitter. For poll creators, it’s a new way to engage with Twitter’s massive audience and understand exactly what people think. For those participating, it’s a very easy way to make your voice heard.

This is cool. It’s a nice new feature that appears to be ready for use with all Twitter users.  Here are some of the specifics about the feature:

  • You can only give people the option to respond with two pre-set answers.  Only two answers, and no open-ended answers, which is different than Facebook’s polling function.
  • Polls will be live for 24 hours.
  • How you vote will not be shared publicly.

I have a few questions about the feature:

  • Are answers publicly accessible while a poll is ongoing?  After the poll is completed?
  • Can the poll be retweeted, like a standard tweet?
  • Do you have the option to retweet your answer, if you so choose?

The first thing I thought of in terms of how these polls can be used would be the set-up for a fail: Let’s say you put out a poll, asking a question.  You then don’t like the answer.  Opps.  I can see that backfiring very, very quickly.

My initial thoughts, based on how this is likely set up, is this: Don’t use the polling function to get someone’s opinion on a controversial issue, unless you are actually prepared to hear the answer…even if it’s one you don’t like.  If you want to get people’s opinions on an issue, don’t be surprised for if and when you do get them, and they don’t align with your own views.  Instead, use the poll to solicit general feedback, build engagement, and find out what issues are important to your constituents.

I say again: Never ask a question, unless you are prepared for the answer.

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