By measuring social media responses we can identify the nature of an organization’s feedback loops. Many social media outlets have started to provide tools for getting feedback. How can we make the most of these new tools and opportunities? In this post we’ll focus on polls using Google Forms, Facebook, and Twitter.

Answer the big questions by asking the little questions

First, identify three big questions to answer. These are large questions, e.g. How do we drive more volunteer participation? How do we increase fundraising revenue among new members? How do we increase responses to calls-to-action?

Next, create 3-5 focus questions for each of our three large-scope questions. These will become our polling questions. e.g. When do you prefer to volunteer? Do you volunteer alone, with a group of friends, or on a whim? What prevents you from volunteering more?

Our aim is to create a culture of feedback. This is not an expedient process, but one that is built by consistency.

Our first poll may not yield the results we want; we can’t even guarantee that a poll will receive any responses! This is where having a plan is crucial. Twitter and Google both offer polling capabilities free of charge. Facebook has a larger direct reach, though it also has a price tag attached ($96/year). Thankfully we’ve already created our list of poll questions.

  • Week / Topic: Each week rotate the large-scope focus on Facebook and Twitter.
    • Every few days create a Twitter poll from a focus question, and share liberally.
    • Each day share the Facebook Poll.

Google and Facebook allow for multi-question surveys. The benefit of having multiple focus questions is that we can distribute the same inquiries across multiple platforms, and aggregate the responses. Google Forms, using their spreadsheets, provide a place to centralize the data received across these platforms.

Our primary aim is to build a feedback culture. We want to build our base and increase the number of positive interactions. Initial responses can provide preliminary insight. At first, these responses will come from a biased and small audience of core followers. The deeper benefit is when an organization can pose an inquiry and reliably receive 1000+ authentic responses within a predictable time frame. That is what may take some time to grow into, but will be well worth it when achieved.

Google Forms

screenshot of a blank Google Form

This is what you’ll have to work with when you use a Google Form.

So let’s take a conceptual look at what a more complete plan might look like. First, we want to create a Google Form for each ‘large-scope’ question, including all of the focus questions for each. A link to the Google Form can then be attached to the bottom of any or all emails that are sent, with a little note to the effect of, “We’d love your feedback.”

Facebook Polls

blank Facebook poll

The start of a Facebook poll.

This survey can also be reflected in a Facebook poll, and be placed near the top of the organization’s Facebook page. The placement alone will not ensure it will be accessed, though from this well-known location it can spread via shares and likes. Once again, our aim is to create a culture of feedback. This is not an expedient process, but one that is built by consistency. We continue to give our audience an accessible means of providing direct feedback on issues the organization has identified as important to fulfilling its mission.

Twitter Polls

blank Twitter poll

A blank Twitter poll.

The last component to add are Twitter Polls. While Twitter only allows for single-question polls, along with Facebook, Twitter provides an ever changing timeline that facilitates sharing. We leverage this capacity to both solicit responses and to maintain a daily/organizational focus of seeking feedback. Twitter, as a platform, is relatively risk tolerant. A poll can be retweeted a few times a day without the audience feeling overwhelmed. The goal is that our questions are made available to our audience, while being presented with enough variety so as to feel sociable.

Engage with your audience every day

Again, what we are trying to build is a culture of feedback. Organizationally we start with an overall plan and list of large-scope questions. In practice, we begin by intentionally seeking out feedback every day, via Facebook and Twitter polls. We are able to use Twitter and Facebook as barometric measures for how our questions are being received, and we are able to make adjustments as necessary.

Building a culture of feedback is possible, no matter your organization’s budget. It is becoming increasingly important to be open and responsive to stakeholders, be they board members, employees, or volunteers, no matter an organization’s sector. The steps necessary are able to complement strategic plans seamlessly, and can be accomplished with a marginally minimal investment. Hopefully I’ve provided enough to get a reader started! Happy data mining!