Polls apart

2016 was probably a year pollsters would like to forget. They got Brexit wrong; the US Presidential election wrong and Ed Balls’ progression in Strictly Come Dancing wrong. So does this signify an end to polling? Maybe we should ask the audience…

At NAVCA, we are always looking to harness the views of our members and their communities. And as a self-professed digital champion, I am always looking to utilise digital media to solve an issue. So here’s my guide to six ways to find out what your members, communities or followers are thinking or doing:

Google forms
Google forms is another expansion of the Google universe. This is a simple and clean way to set up a short online survey, event invitation or registration sign up. Its free – you just need a gmail account (which is also free). They have templates for standard surveys/invites or a blank canvas for you to be creative. Once you have all the responses you need you can simply download and analyse the responses as you wish. 

Their website describes it as a ‘customisable engagement tool’. Basically it is software, linked to an app (Android or Apple based) which allows you to create and share a question with your audience who can respond using their phone (instead of being at a computer). Future questions can then be pushed out to the initial respondents. These things tend to work quite well at events, where you want to gain opinions there and then. The downside is there is a cost. The app is free to download but the organisation asking questions has to pay a set-up fee and an annual licence. Their website does not go into any actual costs but instead encourages you to contact them to arrange a quote. 

Mentimeter is like Opinioneer except there is one fundamental difference – it has a free setting. On the free setting you can pose two questions to your audience on whatever topic, using whichever question format you like – polls, multiple choice, free text, wordcloud etc. We used Mentimeter at our Impact Summit 2016 to generate a word cloud depicting describing local infrastructure organisations. Here is the result:


All you do is set up a profile, set up your questions and then tell your target audience your pin. They go to menti.com, enter the pin and answer the question. This is a great way to engage people at an event or through social media and gain a quick snapshot of what the general consensus of your following is.

Twitter Polls
About 18 months ago Twitter introduced a quick way to gather views (without having to do the ‘RT for yes and Like for no’ tweet). When you tweet there is a little four line symbol (three horizontal and one vertical) which enables you to create a poll on your tweet.  You can add up to four choices and then after a period of time (chosen by you – up to 7 days) it displays the results. It is a good way to engage and capture thoughts quickly but it is a little restrictive and the outputs are very simple (bar graph). 

Survey Monkey
Survey Monkey has been doing the rounds for a while now. It is a simple way to set up an online survey and has a free setting which enables you to ask up to 10 questions. Obviously if you pay then you get more functionality but if you are just looking for the basic stuff then it is there. Paying allows you to customise, ask more questions, do a bit more analysis but it all depends on what you want out of it. 

I have used all of these on a regular basis (except Opinioneer as this needs a formal price structure to use) and I would recommend them all for different circumstances. It’s about using the right tool for the right job. Consider what you want your output to be and find the right platform to get the result.

So which one did you find best to use? Click here to complete our quick poll!

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