Social media land often slows down during this strange autumnal period in the lead up to winter. So, I decided to take a quick 5 day break, fleeing Edinburgh’s decreasing temperatures for the rolling hills and exceptional wines of Tuscany. However, just when I thought it was safe to get away, Instagram dropped a brand new feature that could be about to bring you even closer to your brand’s followers. Here is a slightly Tuscan wine infused rundown of Instagram’s new polls feature.
We’ve seen polls before, you need to calm down
Yes, I guess you’re right, we have seen polls before. Twitter has polls and Facebook polls are available in Messenger and Groups. But trust me on this one, this is worth getting excited about. Never before have polls been so personable and accessible. Instagram stories are the social media equivalent of shorthand note taking, they’re quick and to the point. People like this format. Instagram have done a great job of designing a simple, usable interface for polls. It may be a simple addition but I think this is a great indicator of the direction Instagram plans to take the stories feature and I’m optimistic that stories will be more than just a peripheral feature.
Engagement within stories is a big deal
Don’t get me wrong, stories have always been an engaging feature. However, aside from just watching them or sending a reply, your audience hasn't really had the opportunity to truly interact with them. Polls gives you a new way to connect with your audience. They can become part of the story and, in a way, interact with the rest of your community. People like to be part of something but don’t necessarily want to go out of their way to contribute online whilst suffering constant Facebook group updates. Polls give your followers this opportunity in a uniquely noncommittal, yet engaging way.
Let’s get back to the future
Ok, so this is cool and could be useful for engaging your audience, but it’ll likely be forgotten in a couple of weeks. I would assume that polls are just the start for this type of interactive feature within stories. Going forward, I’d hope to see Instagram expand the ways in which followers can interact, voice opinion and reply to your brand all without swiping away from your story.
This is not an anonymous vote
Whilst this new feature has been met with a generally warm reception from marketers, the wider public became very sceptical early on Wednesday morning. After the initial buzz of the feature's addition on Tuesday, it quickly became apparent that these were not anonymous votes, leaving many Instagram users red faced. Instagram made clear that the feature was not anonymous from the outset, but the average user does not frequently read Instagram press releases (sadly, I do). Already, a line in the sand has been drawn and brands must be aware that users will not engage if a poll is deemed ‘too personal’. Whether Instagram will allow poll anonymity in the future remains to be seen.
It’s good that the social networks are back and adding features again after a brief quiet patch. This is a cool update and one that will interest brands and small business globally. Ultimately, I think this really shows Instagram’s commitment to brands and illustrates the commercial possibilities of ephemeral messaging (pay attention Snapchat).