Twitter’s proposed polling feature isn’t much help for brands

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The latest experiment to emerge from the labs of Twitter is an embedded polling feature. It’s not an official new feature yet — it was spotted by The Next Web who saw some poll test tweets, but users will be able to ask a poll question and their followers could answer within the tweet itself. If introduced to the public, the polling feature would replace third party polling applications, much like adding a camera button removed the need to use Twitpic. It would keep users on Twitter and perhaps increase the number of answers to polls since people wouldn’t have to leave the site to respond.

But it’s not a feature that will be getting brands particularly excited on Twitter, according to Marc Fischman, CEO of social networking analytics platform Hyperactivate. Hyperactivate has been around since 2010, working with big brands like American Airlines, Pepsi, NBC, and others, so Fischman has a window into the social marketer’s soul, so to speak.

“Twitter’s experiment with embedded polling will not nearly change the game as much as a feature like the buy button,” Fischman told me. “Today, brands are more interested in ROI rather than engagement – engagement was last year’s problem.”

In some ways, embedded polling is actually problematic for brands. Since it keeps followers on Twitter, instead of driving them to the company’s own personal site, it limits the marketing opportunity. The one way a Twitter polling feature could benefit brands is if the social media company offers analytics on the poll responses — demographics of who responded, most active poll respondents, and that sort of thing.

For Twitter users of course, in-app polling will be fun. It’s become a mainstay of anonymous social networks Secret and Whisper, which perhaps is where Twitter got the idea from. The company hasn’t released information on the experimental feature yet, although we’ve reached out for comment and will update this if we hear back.

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