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Community manager planning a community poll

How and Why to Get Valuable Insight from Community Polls

If you want an answer to something, sometimes it’s as simple as just asking. But how, when, and where you ask can have a direct result on the quantity and quality of the answers.  

If your association’s primary aim is to provide value to and serve your members, maintaining a near-constant awareness of what those members think about, what’s important to them, and what they want/need is essential.   

If I’m a member, the more my association knows about me and why I’m a part of that association the better. This might include interests in networking connections, certifications, career development, content, or opportunities to contribute to my field. It makes my interactions with the association more relevant and efficient. And it shows me my association cares, values my membership, and respects my time.   

When an association is looking for insights into what their members value, their community – and community polls – can be a powerful resource.  

Answers Create Valuable Data for Associations  

Associations that activate and take full advantage of community polling to give their members a chance to weigh in are in a better position to improve member experience and have happier members.   

  1. Polling not only delivers priceless insights from your membership, it gets you answers quickly. You can collect members’ views on late-breaking industry news or feedback on a new association offering or policy.
  1. It allows you to gauge which issues members care most about. If a poll about a topic gets numerous responses, you know it’s one that’s currently top of mind.
  1. Having used polls to surface areas of concern, you can then develop content that offers guidance.
  1. If your polls aren’t anonymous, you can identify high-quality responses to surface great thought-leadership candidates from the member respondents. You can then loop them into content development.
  1. Community polls can work hand in hand with passive observation of conversations in the community for a complete and honest picture of member priorities and viewpoints.
  1. Polling can also help you minimize guesswork and doubt – avoid burning up limited staff time and financial resources making content you “hope” members will care about when you can quickly gauge their interest.
  1. Collecting the consensus of the membership can help inform your association’s advocacy efforts, be that for legislation or industry regulations and best practices.
Tips for Effective Association Community Polls  

Remember, polls are only as good as the questions that are asked and the authenticity with which those questions are answered. So, as you think about increasing your association’s use of community polling, keep the following tips in mind so that poll results will be of real value.     

  • Put your polls in a high traffic area. This might be the community home page or discussion thread page. They should always be right where the conversations and engagement is happening. 
  • Let members know a poll has just been published by creating a discussion post about it. Make it compelling to inspire participation and make members curious as to what the poll results will be. 
  • Consider providing instant visibility to the current poll results after a member participates. 
  • Mention and promote the poll in your email newsletters.   
  • Do a mix of work-related and “fun” poll questions. 
  • Do a mix of multiple choice and blank field poll formats. 
  • Keep polls special by limiting the number and reasonably spacing them out.   
  • Get a little meta and do a poll and what poll questions members would like to see in the future so they can share suggestions for the types of things they want to give feedback on. 
  • If the poll is not anonymous, use members’ answers to further flesh out their profile and increase personalization.  
  • Be strategic around when you make polls anonymous. Some questions, members might not feel the need for anonymity, but for other, more sensitive questions, response rates and honesty will go up if members feel they can answer safely.   
  • Close the feedback loop. Report poll results to leadership. If actions are taken as a result of polls, tell the membership about it to prove that answering your community polls is well worth their time.  
You’re Not Being Nosy  

Some associations might be reluctant to poll their memberships, not wanting to bother them. But how many people do you know who don’t want to be asked their opinion on something? Very few. Many consider it a compliment to be asked what they think. It makes them feel valued, seen, heard, and validated.   

To be asked their opinion on things that impact their career, industry, and passion is even more of an ego boost – the kind that fosters the higher levels of engagement all association communities are looking for.   

Kristen Parody

Kristen is a Senior Customer Advisor at Higher Logic. She helps customers grow their community engagement and develop impactful emails and automation streams. Kristen has a Master’s Degree in Entertainment Business from Full Sail University and a Bachelor’s Degree in Marketing and eBusiness from Towson University.