It was bound to happen. Just as I published an ebook on how to use Twitter, the developers introduced a new feature: polls. Still, the joy of e-publishing is the ability to update the content. Anyway, in this post I’ll give you a quick overview of Twitter polls, along with a (rather foolish) example.
To create a poll, you compose a new tweet as usual. You should now spot the option to add a poll:
Type your question where your tweet text normally appears, then add your options underneath. You include a maximum of four, each with up to 20 characters. The question – as with a normal tweet – can contain up to 140 characters. Alas, there’s currently no scope to add images as visual options.
Moving onto democracy and privacy, users can vote only once (unless, of course, they have multiple accounts), and voting is completely anonymous. Nobody can see how you voted, including the creator.
Once you’ve clicked Tweet to publish your poll, it appears in followers’ timelines, just like any other tweet. The poll remains open for a fixed period of 24 hours after which the winner is highlighted in bold.
In the meantime, you’ll be able to see how many people have voted and the breakdown of results.
About two minutes after publishing it, I decided this poll was far too foolish as an example. I went scurrying back to Twitter, only to discover that 15 people had already voted and it had provoked some debate. Facial hair is a surprisingly popular topic on social media.
I’m sure you’ll be able to think of a more sensible application. Twitter polls certainly aren’t a sophisticated psephological device, but they’re great for encouraging interaction and quickly canvassing opinions. There’s no shortage of those on the internet.
Find out what else you can do in my ebook, Making the Most of Twitter: A Step-by-Step Guide for Academics or my Making the Most of Twitter – online course.