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June 3, 2014

7

And the Survey Says: Using Polls in a Social Business Strategy

By Karen J. Bannan

Searchenginewatch.com recently posted a story about the benefits of using polling as part of a social media strategy. The story detailed how polls could be used to glean free product feedback, gain a deeper understanding of customers and build a larger and more engaged community.

Polls aren’t just applicable to social media. Polls and surveys have a place in your social business strategy, too – and for many of the same reasons. Polls can help community managers in every department gain better understanding of what employees and partners are thinking and talking about. They can also provide a way to bring organizations together. First, by prompting people for feedback they may want to provide without having to take the initiative on their own. Second – and only if polls are set up to display results publically – by providing instant feedback to everyone in a department or organization.

You can install polls in communities, web meeting interfaces, and in emails, and responses can be collected anonymously or by user. You can also configure who can see polling results, which makes it easy to give managers or a specific department such as human resources or R&D access to metrics. Organizations can also give users the ability to create their own polls, which may help spur innovation and collaboration. Polls and results become pieces of content, which can build community and participation, too.

Of course, there are some potential issues that organizations must be aware of. Some employees may not feel comfortable being completely candid, especially if polls are administered via email or another trackable method or are formatted in a more open-ended, text-based model. There’s also the issue of poll fatigue. If polls are sent out daily or even weekly, response levels may fall over time. In addition, pollsters need education when it comes to crafting questions and figuring out potential responses. You’ll also need to create a policy related to polls and surveys – or at least add specific language to existing social business guidelines and acceptable use policies.

Finally, respondents should be educated about polls and responses. You don’t want to take the chance of having very negative or inflammatory information posted in a survey if answers are going to be made instantly public.

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