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Using LinkedIn Polls to Connect with Business

LinkedIn has gone beyond simply being a place for wannabe unemployed dudes to hang out waiting for the next big break.  It’s a way for business professionals to hang out and engage like-minded others and find the people out there who demonstrate expertise in their niches on a daily basis.

Peoples’ opinions make for good content.  If you read my eBook LinkedIn Profile Optimization for Maximum Exposure, you know that in the chapter on Applications I mention polls on LinkedIn but didn’t have a lot of detail to go with it.  Here is a bit more on LinkedIn polls and how to use them.

My First Poll – Quality Not Quantity

In order to more fully research market demand for a product I was developing on Executive Video Interviews for business leaders, I ran the following poll on LinkedIn.

LinkedIn poll, web video poll, best web video, web video for small business

My First LinkedIn poll results

So what did I find out?  Well, obviously I found out more people like using web video for product demonstrations, something not all together surprising given the ease of filming something in action and throwing it on YouTube.

But did I really find that out?

With only 16 responses, I’m no statistician but I’d say this lacks statistical significance.  I had hoped for hundreds to respond to the poll.  After all, I posted a link to it on about 20 LinkedIn user groups.  There should have been thousands of responses right?

Polling Lessons Learned

Here are some things I found out regarding using this poll to engage the business community:

  1. There is a ton of noise online at LinkedIn.  People won’t notice or even care about your poll unless you PROMOTE THE LIVING DAYLIGHTS OUT OF IT.  That means posting in the Groups, tweeting multiple times, and using Facebook and other social media to the max leverage you can.
  2. This is a hunch, but I believe that my Executive Video Interview responses don’t tell me that much about receptivity to the product.  Why?  Because people haven’t been introduced to it yet!  Two of the 3 respondees to this poll on that item were customers of mine who had them done.   Since there is no one else I know of who does this like I do, that insider information slants the polls results.  Which way I am still debating.  Since I took this poll offline, market experience is telling me that my sample portfolio of client interviews is ginning up a lot more interest than a poll with an item not universally known.  LESSON: All forced choice responses need to be commonly known.  For product receptivity (like this one), poll based upon product outcomes, not the name of the product.
  3. Sometimes the most interesting data are the comments left behind by people who take the poll, telling what they have done for their business (in this case).  Don’t ignore that gold.
  4. Promoting the poll in interest groups only marginally related yields no results.  Because I use web video to help small businesses, I got more LinkedIn Group results from a group on Web Video with only a few hundred, dedicated professionals.  The problem here was that some of these folks, being aficionados in web video, may have been telling me what they specialized in, not what small business wanted.

Connecting with LinkedIn Polls

LinkedIn creates a great poll and it’s easy to set up and put online, but it has 2 problems:

  1. LinkedIn only keeps each poll around for 4 weeks or so.  You need to be able to promote it and promote it fast because you don’t have forever to gather your data.  Fact is, in most polling situations, they’ve run their course in just a few days, so LinkedIn has it right.
  2. You can’t publish the poll on your LinkedIn profile, you can only put it in your status update and publish to Groups.  If you’re optimizing your profile you know you are posting updates every few days at the least.  Unless you want to become an annoying spammer on LinkedIn Groups, you won’t publicize your poll there more than once or twice in a month.  This means that on LinkedIn itself, your poll has little staying power other than in a generic Polls page, and generally speaking, people aren’t cruising that looking for something to do.

No worries.  Here are a few ways to leverage polls in LinkedIn:

  • Embed on your Website
  • Tweet out to your favorite hash-tag trends and followers
  • Facebook post it for your fans

What about types of questions for polls?  Well, if the poll is something you are just looking to get responses to, appeal to low common denominators like pop culture or politics.  Everyone has an opinion on them.  If, however, you are looking to find certain niche information about your business or audience, as I was in this case, do everything you can to target the audience to the niche so that they are interested in it enough to want to learn the results themselves, or just live with a low response rate indicative of your target reader size.

One way to do this targeting is to post your poll in a blog post or article and submit to search engines.  Through SEO your piece will be read by those who found it who wanted to find it, and chances are higher they vote on the poll.  In the coming days I’ll be doing this with another LinkedIn poll on marketing techniques for small business.  Get statistically significant results, especially if they are unexpected, and you have created a news item that you can now leverage with, you guessed it, another blog post, a press release to news outlets, or posted as an item of interest on your homepage.

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One Comment

  1. Marketer November 4, 2011 at 12:40 pm #

    Hi Karl,

    My firm is interested in setting up polls on LinkedIn. Specifically, we’d like a link to our LinkedIn page to lead to the LinkedIn poll URL. Is it possible for the link to go directly to the LinkedIn poll? How would we set up this in the newsletter HTML?

    We send out our newsletter every two weeks. Since the poll last for four weeks, our readers would be able to still see the first poll even after getting a second newsletter a few wks later. (sent one w/ poll, but two weeks later when we send second, they’d still see the same on our LinkedIn Page, right?)

    Hypothetically, we might want to send our newsletter readers a poll and then two wks later, send a different poll… would that be possible?

    Thanks for any advice you have.

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