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How to use live polls to engage with your audience

by Scott Davies,  02-Mar-2017 11:59:25

Polls and live voting are a fun and immediate way of generating powerful content, allowing you to amplify the voice of your audience. Everyone has an opinion, so give them the chance to express it.

The power of using an audience’s views to demonstrate a mass opinion on a range of subjects lets you ultimately become a source of representative information. That becomes a story in itself.

We thought we’d share our thoughts about what we think works when it comes to using social polls in Live TV.


The most important tip - Keep it simple

Keep your poll simple by not giving too many options and using an easy call-to-action/mechanic so people understand it. If the topic isn’t of a serious nature then use humour wherever you can - people are more likely to engage if it’s fun.


Run polls across multiple platforms

Using social media gives you a large audience to gather opinion from and essentially lets you become a source of research information. You don’t have to limit yourself to one source of content as there is no doubt your audience will be connecting with you in lots of different ways. Running polls across Twitter, Facebook, 3rd party apps, website, email or even SMS (for those who still do), and aggregating the results together allows you to reach a variety of audiences. From our experience, the more opportunities and channels to engage, the greater the success.


Track opinion on a large scale

social sentimentPeople are already sharing their views on key topics and social polling lets you track that sentiment/opinions on a large scale. We ran a live poll during the Brexit vote and found that from half a million Tweets around certain keywords, the mentions for voteleave/leave and voteremain/remain represented the actual referendum result. While this isn’t an exact science, it gives an insight into the current topics people are talking about live on social. We would say this is no less powerful or representative than official exit polls, and the results would suggest this is more accurate. Why wouldn’t you want to use that content?


Lots of different ways to run Twitter polls, which should I use?

The answer is, whichever you prefer. Some prefer to run native polls (see below) as they are easy to run and you get an instant ongoing snapshot.twitter poll

Others prefer to create hashtag-based polls as they’re an easy call-to-action and do not require people to go to specific destinations to participate. It also means you maximize shareability and audience reach, driving trending opportunities especially when the audience is seen to mobilise in a certain direction. You could create a poll that uses multiple Twitter hashtags for the different possible answers. Alternatively, you could use one hashtag to drive the poll and prescribed keywords to dictate the answers.

social tv poll

At the same time, you could have a Facebook post where people can respond with those very same keywords to vote. The keyword answers from both Facebook and Twitter can then be aggregated together, giving you the opportunity to engage with your audiences across both platforms. In the same way, you could add in a web vote, SMS or email for that matter.


Share your poll results live so people see how the voting is going

The dynamic poll results can be displayed live during your show which further pushes the audience to get involved. Whether you agree or disagree with how the vote is tracking, it becomes a talking point for the presenters and further drives social conversations with your audience.

Whether you keep the display simple or want to do something a bit different, the key is to integrate the look and feel with your normal onscreen graphic representation. That said, don’t be afraid to get creative. Polls don’t need to be basic bar graphs - there are many formats for graphics visualisations.

poll graphics visualizations


Turn your polls into competitions

Turning polls into a realtime social competition gives the audience an extra incentive to participate as a lucky person(s) will win some kind of prize at the end of it. Randomly drawing a winner from all the voters at a given time gives a point of reference and an end point for people to work towards. This makes it clear when the voting ends and creates a sense of achievement.


Acknowledge your audience and amplify reach

It’s important to acknowledge your audience’s vote by thanking them directly or by showcasing them as part of your broadcast. Additionally, you could use a direct response feature to automatically reply to those who’ve engaged with the poll with a message thanking them for voting or send offers/links if it’s a sponsored poll.


Finally, don’t be afraid to ask your audience’s opinion

Often when people run a poll they expect a certain outcome and may be surprised if it’s not what they’d expected. We think that’s good - that’s when you get great insights.

Don’t be worried if your poll gets low levels of engagement at first. Ultimately it’s about communicating with your audience that you welcome their opinion. As your audience learns that you care about what they have to say, and you start showing it, you will eventually see greater engagement. The key is asking for an opinion and acknowledging it to drive its ultimate success.

Our social engagement platform STORY lets you manage a variety of social polls and competitions with ease. Get in touch with us to learn more.

scott.pngOver the last 20 yrs, Scott has specialised in online and mobile technology solutions focusing on consumer & social interaction. With a history of working in and growing successful start-up businesses, Scott thought he had seen it and done it all…until he came across! As CEO he can’t stop evangelising the benefits of social TV or Dynamic Content Advertising. If you’d like to chat, he’s happy to do it over a beer!

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