Let’s not beat around the bush but the announcement that Twitter is going to allow all its users access to its Twitter Poll function in its basic format is going to lead to a spike of worthless poll questions being asked over the next month. Am I right? For example…

  • Who is better JayZ or Bieber?
  • What should I eat for supper tomorrow, Chinese or Indian? Or;
  • Where shd I totes #travel next babes, Bali or Indonesia…?

Now once we are over that phase we need to look at how maybe it could be used properly and by that I mean to engage and stimulate conversations we want our followers top participate in. For those in Local Government this could be an ideal opportunity to test out questions before consultation, check the temperature on certain topics and look for quick opinions on choices a Council is looking to make? Of course there will be the initial fear of… are these results legal, do they mean anything when the votes could have come from someone in Timbuctoo, should they be counted as a submission… but I think as long as your genuine with your followers about why the question is being asked and what the results could lead to then there is no reason to have any worries in trying out this new tool that you can add to the ever growing comms toolkit.

Now there will be parameters which have been set already by Twitter. For example the question would need to fit, I believe, with in the standard tweet, questions will only have an A or B answer so a two-choice poll and the question will only remain live for 24 hours.

For a council, yes your poll would be open to the whole of Twitter so anyone could vote but in reality it’s only going to be seen by people who follow you and in the majority people will only vote if it’s a matter that affects them directly. How you voted is not shared publicly so there are also no ways for the account holding the poll to validate who has actually voted.

But don’t let this put you off, as we know with all things… good things come to those who wait and so I’m sure further tweaks and upgrades will come along over time so why not jump on board now and test it out.

Here are 5 quick ways you could use Twitter Poll now in Local Government

  1. Test questions that could be used in a wider public consultation – In Community Engagement it’s often a good idea to plan your engagement with those you are going to engage, understand what each one wants out of the questions being asked, even develop them together. Twitter Poll would allow you to test questions out on your followers to see how answers tracked or whether wording was right. It might be customary to let people know it’s a test question in advance and of course you would also need to ask for feedback on how it went, again Twitter Poll could be used.
  2. Ask for Feedback – as above Twitter Poll could easily be used for quick feedback polls – How did you enjoyed today’s Community Fair – A: Enjoyed B: Didn’t Enjoy.
  3. Ask for opinions on things happening in the community – Kind of like the feedback option but more focussed on straight yes no answers, for example, Should we extend Swimming pool hours in summer, Yes, No or Do you want Fruit Trees in the new reserve, Yes, No. Of course these are looking for quick opinions and further work would need to be done to flesh out the whys.
  4. Choice Polls – These could be a little more edgy but could start some brilliant Twitter chats yet in the same time could just be innocent in looking for help. For example – What should we call our new Library, A: Bookcity, B:Bookopolis or We need to close one recreation centre, should it be, A: Upton Park, B: Downton Fields (Made up names so don’t go whinging if they relate to actual rec centres you know). The controversy in the last one could ignite a great conversation on Twitter about the benefits of those centres which if your clever could be directed to a forum or established ‘have your say’ style platform you already run.
  5. Finally… Fun Polls because we are all human – Yes even local government can have fun and why shouldn’t they within reason use Twitter Poll to perk up a Monday morning on Twitter, for example – Monday starts with… A: A visit to the local Rec Centre, B: A visit to the local library – this question is actually fun yet practical. Or you could go really simple and fun and ask – Council wants to know which sport is more popular in the area, A: Footy, B: Netball?

Now there is one word of caution and one The Australian’s technology writer David Swan has already fallen foul of in his excitement of getting Twitter Polls to play with. Never ask a Twitter poll question that clearly pits you against a rival, for example – Which Council is best, A Ours, B Theirs? As you will see from this article on David Swan’s regrettable faux pas you will quickly find out that the grass is often greener on the other side when you ask your followers who is best…

If you have any creative uses for Twitter Poll please share with us via the comments below or joining the conversation on the commsgodigital Facebook page.

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