If you want an idea of what your audience is thinking, do an online poll. Online polls allow you to take the pulse of a group. That group could be the general public, or employees at your organization. For businesses, you can gauge how staff feels about a particular policy or an event that occurred that carries repercussions for everyone. If you’re involved in politics, use an online poll to understand public opinion about a candidate’s stance, an ad they’re running, or a recent event that could affect an election. As a marketer, online polls are useful to understand how your customers feel about a product feature, or even a brand new logo. Of course, if your fans are brand advocates, you may not even need a poll—you’re likely to get unsolicited feedback through social media once they notice.
First, try to avoid bias. For example, consider this question: “On a scale of 1-10, how satisfied are you with this administration?” If at one end of the scale you wrote “very unsatisfied” and the other “it’s alright”, you’ve weighed it too negatively to one side. An extreme option should be matched on the other side. Second, there are two types of polls: “scientific” and “unscientific”. Scientific polls use random sampling controls to get a sample that’s statistically representative of a population. Unscientific polls are cast out without any sampling controls. Decide which one you need. Finally, don’t be tempted to stuff your poll with lots of questions. You need plenty of data, yes, but you’re more likely to get it if respondents know it won’t take half a day to complete.
If you’re creating an online poll in order to collect votes, consider the following: 1) Speed. We’re all busting a gut trying to get stuff done. Make sure your online vote is quick and easy—straight in, straight out. No blocks of text explaining how you got the inspiration for the vote. 2) Clarity. People can’t vote if they don’t know what they’re voting for. Explain concisely what the vote’s for, and label the options accurately. Consider uploading pictures to guide the user. 3) Neutrality. Ensure the vote is fair. Take, for example, a “do you agree..?” question. It’s framed in a positive light—people don’t like disagreeing as much as agreeing. 4) Distribution. If you want a representative sample of the population, don’t send the vote to your top 20 Facebook friends.
You have a few options after collecting your data. Marketers can use it to inform their next campaign or to make snap decisions on current ones. If you’re in politics, you can use that information to position your organization as an authority to media outlets. Or if you’re acting on behalf of a candidate, you can use that information to sway public opinion. Within a company, you can demonstrate to your employees that their opinion matters, and shape company culture. All this from a simple poll? Yes. Even though most polls are informal, by sharing your results with the people you polled, you can increase engagement with your brand. People always want to know if they’re on the “right” side of an opinion—give it to them.