Why Twitter is going to the polls

26 Sep 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

Twitter Adds Another New Feature: User-Generated Polls.

But if you haven’t seen the feature enabled on your account, it’s probably because you’re not one of the select Twitter employees or verified accounts deemed important enough to try it out. The polling feature, which takes the form of a two-option choice, has been rolled out to Twitter staffers and certain – but not all – verified accounts.Twitter Inc., which has been adding new features under the leadership of interim Chief Executive Officer Jack Dorsey, unveiled a new tool that lets users create polls and track results.

The polls are a native feature — meaning the polls are embedded directly into the tweets, rather than use Twitter Cards, which lets you attach rich photos, media and videos. Twitter employees and those with verified accounts—Twitter users marked with those fancy blue checkmarks—are now able to embed simple two-question polls into their messages. Anthony Noto, Twitter’s chief financial officer, started posting tweets on Thursday with embedded polls, including one that asked: “Boxers or Briefs?” Aly Pavela, a spokeswoman for the San Francisco-based company, said, “We’re experimenting with a new way to poll users on Twitter.” Twitter is by no means the first Web company to introduce online polls.

Noto had a simple question for his followers Thursday: “Boxers of briefs?” Users who were viewing the tweet on the web or within twitter’s native mobile apps were able to vote for either with a simple poll. Twitter has released a standard statement confirming the experiment but not elaborating on whether polls will be introduced for all users or permanently. Polls and surveys have obvious resonance to brands and other commercial entities on Twitter, who already use the service for informal market research and could potentially survey a wider audience with Twitter’s new tool. (Facebook also has a similar tool for native polling.) But polling functionality appears to be part of ongoing changes at Twitter that are moving the service farther and farther away from its core product of broadcasting information in short messages. The great thing about Twitter, and something Jack Dorsey and the founding team likes to reiterate, is that the platform is a place where people can share their thoughts, speak their minds and do it all in real-time.

So far this year, Twitter has introduced a service for collecting political donations, a buy button for tickets to events and an app for streaming live video, called Periscope. At the moment, it appears the polls have a lifespan of 24 hours, and tweeters are informed of how long is left to vote, and how many people have voted – as well as the results in percentage. While seemingly ubiquitous, it primarily serves a small core of highly engaged users surrounded by a much larger layer of occasional users—who in turn are surrounded by a huge number of one- or- two-time users who have given Twitter a shot but were turned off by one aspect or another. The complaints about polls so far focus on the lack of third-party integration and the rather more pressing concern that in timelines and embedded tweets (see above) polls only show up as a text question without the interactive element. While Twitter declined to provide more information, a quick query on the site indicates that a select group of users have access to this, including Twitter employees, certain verified and non-verified profiles, including those in the media and in sports.

In 2014, users were given the chance to vote on Oscars favourites via a poll provided by Poptip, but that function was only available on the mobile app. It could even be used to gauge public opinion on certain issues, whether that be politics or entertainment events, such as reality TV shows or, as already mentioned, the Oscars. Now sure, you can still reply to someone with your thoughts and ideas while participating or not participating in the poll, but doesn’t that make the idea of the poll worthless in the first place? Brands will love it, media outlets will love it (BuzzFeed is gonna embed the shit out them, and oh…the presidential election!@#!@#), and sports teams asking questions of fans this Sunday will love it. No word on when this will make its way into the product for everyone, which I assume that it will since it’s in the hands of the folks I mentioned above.

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