5 Features That Would Make Twitter Polls Truly Useful

30 Nov
November 30, 2015

Twitter polls were a welcome addition to the platform when they became widely available a couple of months ago in a very basic form. I’ve dabbled a few times with some questions with really mixed reaction, so while early days, I see a lot of room for improvement in the product.

While they’ve added the ability to have up to four options, there are still five features they need to add for it to be a truly useful as a survey tool on the platform.

Shorter Timeframes

Currently the only time option for running Twitter polls using the native function is 24 hours (noting some people have custom card implementations that work differently), which is too long. If your target audience has a small number of infrequent tweeters they follow then you may hold people’s interest and increase votes, but consider how many other people your followers are connected with, and understand how much other content is competing for air time with your poll.

It also allows you to be more reactive to live events and maintain relevance.

Ability To Retweet

Asuming we are stuck with the 24 hour timeframe, the ability to tweet the same poll again would be useful. Given the tweet with your poll slips further and further down feeds during that day long period, the visibility decreases.

By being able to push it into your feed again (either manually or automatically) would ensure visibility and increase responses.

Targeting

The broad nature of Twitter means that your audience will be made up of many different. Good polling is generally targeted in nature, taking a pulse amongst a group of people with similar interests.

The ability to set a target audience, outside of Twitter ads for promotion of the poll, would help increase interaction and respondents.

Analytics

Currently the only numbers supporting your poll are the votes, and if you dip into analytics, the number of people who saw the poll. From this you can measure a response rate, but that’s it.

Ideally you want to be able to dig deeper in to understand the people who responded – where are they, who are they, are they your target audience, and what can you then draw from that data as far as insights go?

Image and Video Support

The stats on the performance of visuals and video on Twitter show that there is a clear increase in engagement with tweets that contain them over those that don’t. By adding images to polls, they become a quick reference for the options presented.

Video would also present an interesting angle, allowing people to consume a piece of content and then feedback on it through a poll.

All five of these things tie together quite nicely as ways of increasing and measuring end-to-end engagement, and if they were implemented polls would become a truly engaging piece of the platform.

What about you? Any other features you’d like to see from polls?

Facebook Makes It Easier to Share Liked and Saved Links

28 Nov
November 28, 2015

UPDATE: This was announced by Facebook as a feature test in the US back in May, according to this TechCrunch article, however the implementation looks to have evolved. 

While posting an update this evening, I noted a new addition to the options available in the Facebook mobile app for iOS that allows you to add liked or saved links to a status update.

The Link icon is right in between the Tag and Activity icons, which brings up a list of your recently liked (don’t judge…) and recently saved links, as well as links from your newsfeed.

Facebook Add Link Button

Links become an option alongside tagging, activity and location

The first two make sense – if you’ve liked or saved a link then there is a good chance you will want or may eventually find it interesting enough to share.

Newsfeed links probably make less sense given you haven’t read them yet, but you do have the option to view it. To me this seems more a case of finding something to post for the hell of it.

I’m not sure how widely the feature is available or if this is just in testing, and at this stage I can only see it on the iOS app. But I think it’s an interesting addition given the number of links we like each day.

It also serves to surface content that you may have saved and forgotten about, again, handy when curating content.

Automated Twitter DM, and Why It Needs To Stop

23 Nov
November 23, 2015

I make a point each day of trying to find more interesting people to follow on Twitter (more on how I curate an interesting feed here), however lately this practice has been marred by an increasing number of automated direct messages.

Although nothing new and almost universally derided amongst Twitter users, it seems recently that the dial has been turned up to 11.

My reaction is simple – instantly unfollow.

We all know the social media metaphor of the bar, and that you wouldn’t just walk up to a stranger and try to sell something. Yet this is exactly what the auto DM is.

So what is it that annoys most people?

We’ve Not Yet Established Trust or Value

A follow on Twitter is not an instant indication of trust. It’s an indication that I have found your last few things reasonably interesting and think I want to see more. Twitter is one of the lowest touch networks when it comes to connecting with people you know and trust, and in most cases the strength of a connection, especially at this embryonic stage, is tenuous.

By sending me an automated message straight away – inviting me to connect on LinkedIn / Facebook, try your product that’s in beta, visit your website or download your eBook – assumes that the value you offer has been firmly established and that all connections are created equal.

It demonstrates the value you place on the connections you make. Even by automating even something as simple as gratitude for a new follower instantly shows that you don’t care enough to take the time.

These networks have always been about establishing trust, an automation of your 1:1 interactions flies in the face of this.

Don't Be This Person

Can Automated Direct Messages Work At All?

I’ve been part of Twitter for nearly 7 years, and can count on the one hand useful direct messages I have received. The most useful I ever received was a pay-it-forward kind of message, telling me three more interesting people I should follow.

If you’re serious about leveraging a network of connections like Twitter, avoid automation of direct messaging. It presumes that everyone follows you for the same reason, and that you need to interact with every single one of them. You don’t.

Let me be clear here – direct messaging is still of value. When you take the time, personalise it, and mean it. Spend the time, understand the value you provide, and use that to deepen your connections.

This provision of value is the new currency. and done right can pay greater dividends than trying to sell them something.

Why Facebook’s Reactions Will Be A Game Changer

09 Oct
October 9, 2015

Facebook has today begun testing Reactions, their emoji based variants on the Like button.

The Like button itself was a game changer when it was introduced, and along with the news feed, formed the foundation of how we now discover and interact with content from friends and publishers.

Why Reactions Matter

The dislike button has been a long requested feature, with most believing it to be the opposite side of the coin to Like.

The reality of it is that human reactions are complex and varied. We “like” stories involving tragedy, conflict because that’s our only option from a platform perspective. We have even deeper reactions to updates and news involving our connections — those closest to us.

The like button has always been too simplistic of a reaction to really be valid. We express the deeper reactions through comments.

Facebook Reactions

The 6 new Facebook Reactions – and the little old Like button

What Facebook is doing though will bring nuance to interaction on the platform, by not only giving options to to express sadness and anger, but also happiness and love. The six reactions being tested are by no means exhaustive but then they don’t need to be because as the kind of common things we feel when we read a story, they will fundamentally change the way we interact and share content.

We will move from “Ben likes….” to “Ben is angered by…” or “Ben loves…”. The conversation moves from “why did Ben like this” to “what angers Ben about this…”. It creates more conversation, and an opportunity to explore.

What It Means For Facebook, Publishers and Business

From a Facebook perspective, the outcome is greater interaction and more data to be mined for targeting. This can be a good thing, with actual sentiment and emotion attached, the level of personalisation increases.

For publishers, this will be huge. While it has the potential to reduce commenting, with the nuance of opinion and reaction becoming a one step process, it will also allow for a greater view of the public pulse on issues affecting them.

I see the biggest upside however to businesses, for a number of reasons, but perhaps the most important being in customer service and crisis communications. Through being able to see a range of reactions at a glance, customer sentiment and pain points can be more readily recognised and addressed.

From a brand engagement perspective, it might finally get us away from cheap engagement pieces of “like this picture because you like stuff”. New products can be easily fed back on from users. Smart businesses will be able to take advantage of these new kind of data points to shape interactions.

It’s obviously early days, and what is going to tie all of this together is of course analytics and the ability to measure these reactions in a way that makes sense, but I am excited about the potential of this.

Native Video and Why YouTube Isn’t Under Threat

14 Aug
August 14, 2015

Native video is a hot topic at the moment. Last week in a post on Medium, Hank Green discussed the inaccuracies of Facebook’s native video claims, which was particularly interesting given the number of articles declaring it as the beginning of the end for YouTube.

In a nutshell, while reach and views are high, engagement and completion was relatively low, because the point at which Facebook counts a video view is 3 seconds.

When I spoke with Adam Fraser on the EchoJunction podcast a few weeks ago, we discussed Facebook native video and the reasons why, on the surface, it seems to be doing better than embedded YouTube videos.

User Intent

YouTube’s position as the second biggest search engine is because of user intent – it’s a destination where people seek to be entertained or informed. A recent study by Google showed that 100m hours of “how to” content had been viewed already in North America on YouTube this year.

Facebook however, is more of a lean back experience. No one comes to Facebook to specifically look for video, and Facebook decide what they think we might be interested in seeing in our news feed. Promoted content from brands pushes video in front of us.

Discovery of interesting content can be best described as accidental. With a view being counted at 3 seconds, it’s just enough time to for a viewer to assess if they want to continue watching and decide not to.

Some types of content will do well, as the nature of connections would indicate our friends will have similar interests, but would we consider this content as truly useful? While it can certainly be entertaining, does that relevance hold beyond the view?

While the same argument can be made about YouTube being full of content that is interesting but not necessarily useful, it still remains one of the first stops for people wanting to be educated on a topic, and it has depth, coverage and most importantly structure to make discovery and consumption easy.

Truly useful video content will only succeed where there is a customer need, which is why a video platform like YouTube will continue to be more engaging than a platform with native video functionality like Facebook.

* TV image from Susan E Adam via Flickr. Used under creative commons licence