With a General Election looming, many of us are being asked to give our political and voting views across social media. This has got us wondering about whether using polls on social media is actually a good idea, or a potentially dangerous activity.


Why use social media polls?

When you introduce a poll as a piece of social content, it changes the dialogue between you and your audience into an easy two-way conversation. For more timid social media users polls are a safe way to engage online with a celebrity, influencer, brand… with little risk of personal attack in the comments! This is one reason we often see polls generating high user engagement. They are also incredible easy to set up, with many platforms having poll functionality prebuilt into them, such as LinkedIn and Instagram.

If we think about branding for a moment, polls really suck people into a brand. You can ask potential customers questions about your brand and conduct market research in a way that users find low stress and even enjoyable. Social media polls also foster brand loyalty since a person who has engaged with you on social media is generally more brand loyal than someone who hasn’t.


Polls sound awesome! Are there any shortcomings?

Their biggest drawback is statistical validity.  If you are going to attempt to draw any conclusions from a poll run on social media, ask yourself the following questions:

How many people took part in the poll? Low numbers have huge potential for creating skewed results. The magic number to assess the true opinions of your potential audience (or customer base) will depend hugely on how many people make up its total population. If you have, say, a million potential customers you could need a minimum of 1000 respondents to gain anything meaningful.

Does your social media audience represent your entire customer base? If the answer to that question is ‘no’ then consider how to incorporate your offline audience’s views. One way to do this could be with professional qualitative or quantitative market research.

Could there be foul play involved? Crudely put, duplicate votes can take place from different social media accounts, false views can be put forward and bots can do all sorts of damage. Unless you are prepared to scrutinise your poll participants, be super cautious with what you do with the results.


Being responsible with our content

We should also be mindful of conclusions that our audience might make from a poll that they see. Certainly, at this moment of political election fever in the UK, France, US… could a quick glance at a local social media voting poll create a false perspective and inadvertently cause a butterfly effect? It’s one thing for us to scrutinise the polls we create and run on social media but it’s a tall ask to expect our audience to do the same as they are scrolling by.


Hopefully this has given you some food for thought. If you would like to tap us for any further ideas on how to tackle your social media content please do get in touch.



Photo by cottonbro studio