What I’ve learned about LinkedIn polls

The LinkedIn Polls application is actually rather useful, as I found out when I tested it last year for the first time in an experiment a client (Foresite – a great digital agency):

How do you use it?

  • Log into your account
  • Click on the ‘More’ button in the top panel (to the left of the search function) to bring up the drop-down menu.
  • Click on ‘Polls’
  • Click on the ‘Create a Poll’ button
  • Then follow the instructions

Why would you use it?

That’s where you need to use your own brain, as the possibilities are endless. Off the top of my head though:

  • To generate a good news story (as I did) by creating an interesting statistic.
  • To research your market for a new product or service etc
  • To understand a trend
  • Or for any of these reasons of varying value (I asked a LinkedIn question on how people have used the polling function): http://tinyurl.com/356qvm5

How is it better than commissioning research?

  • It’s free  – In 2010 I paid $1.50 an answer and specified that I only wanted 100 answers so spent $150 on a good survey question (YouGov / Vanson Bourne / Omniboss charge around £200 for a yes/no as far as I can remember, so a more affordable option). However, LinkedIn has now made the polling function completely free.
  • The old LinkedIn polling function was amazing as it used to let you target them geographically, by industry, by job title. So you could go for UK MD’s, business owners and CEOs, for example. However, in January this year LinkedIn removed the targeting function, which I think renders the polling function almost useless, as a sample of 100 people from any industry across the world will not tell you much about anything.
  • People actually answer (it was a bit of a surprise to me too, but within 4 days I had my 103 answers – how they do it beats me – it’s yet another reason why I am furious that LinkedIn wasn’t my idea), which is much better than creating your own poll / survey and sending it out to people or accosting them on the street like a charity mugger. Again, this is now of limited use since LinkedIn removed the targeting function.
  • They do the data capture and analysis for you on the spot, so no trawling through Excel wondering if the unpaid intern has been bovved to enter the info accurately, and no need to buy Excel / Statistica / SPSS / Calculators for Dummies.
  • You can easily break the results down by gender, job title, company size, job function and age.

The drawbacks

  • The actual interface (that’s the bit on your screen in front of you) is a little confusing.
  • Now that you cannot target your answers, it’s not as exciting as it was a few months ago.
  • The first few times I tried to break the results down by gender / job title etc it wouldn’t let me. Seems to be working now though

The results of my experiment (in September 2010)

More than 30 hits with links back to the Foresite’s website, so a good piece of PR: http://tinyurl.com/37brtps

In September I gave the function a well deserved eight-and-a-half out of 10. Now I am dropping that to a three.



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