It's hit extreme proportions now people – we're through the looking glass here.
Now, apparently, people I barely know are interested in:
- how I spell words
- which coffee is best
- maths questions
- whether I enjoy my life
- leadership skills
- whether I think “holiday” is over-rated; and
- much, much more.
Apart from my LinkedIn-Life now feeling like I'm a member of a neverending marketing focus group, behind it all is an interesting thought process:
LinkedIn likes polls at the moment. I should run some polls. Here's a poll.
Of course it makes a certain amount of sense – LinkedIn polls, in theory, currently give you a slightly greater chance of obtaining the two main goals of social media posting:
But there's a problem with just running a poll about anything you can think of…
It Looks Contrived
People can smell a fake from a mile (um – kilometre) away.
So if you're a lawyer working in, say, criminal law and you're running a poll on whether people like a pumpkin spiced latte or prefer a normal flat white, then that's just weird.
Now it's true – I'm not against going off-topic from time to time, simply because it's part of demonstrating authentic personality and broadening opportunities for genuine connection with others.
But the key word there is “genuine”. I'm betting that at no point in your life have you ever asked someone whether holidays are overrated. So why the heck would you run a poll about it on LinkedIn?
Answer: because you're desparately trying to get social media engagement, and you're hoping this will do it.
The problem with that is it looks exactly like what you're trying to do. And people don't tend to love that.
Pick Things you Actually Care About
Now running a poll on LinkedIn isn't inherently bad.
It's true that LinkedIn seems to love them at the moment, since they're new and most platforms like to push out their new products with an associated nudge in organic reach.
But if you're going to run a poll, at least pick something you actually care about or are genuinely interested in.
None of this “I woke up this morning and wondered whether you all like chocolate or not” kind of stuff – that's nonsense.
This is an area where you can fairly safely touch on challenging, topical issues as well as lighter weight stuff. But let's actually run polls where we can about the results?
What Will you Do with the Engagement?
So let's say I'm wrong, and your poll about preferred coffee types does really well, gathering hundeds of interesting comments and responses.
What's your plan?
Will you reach out to those people individually? Will you send out connection requests to those who participated? Will you ensure your next post is on point in the hope that the LinkedIn algorithm is slightly more inclined to expand your reach in coming days due to the success of your poll? Will you write an article or a longer piece on the outcome and tag some people who offered great comments?
Without a plan, any engagement you do get is just engagement for its own sake.
And while that has the potential of moving the needle slightly in terms of your relationships with others, it would be preferable to have a plan to capture some kind of longer lasting benefit from a successful poll if possible.
So if you're running a poll and it turns into a cracker, consider what you're going to do next to try and make hay while the sun is shining.
Run your Polls, but Do it Right
Don't just run a poll because they're the latest cool thing on the block.
Run one because you:
- care about the topic;
- intend to do something with the engagement.
While this doesn't guarantee that your poll will see amazing results, at least it won't leave you feeling like you're engaged in inauthentic marketing strategies.