Home Polling Twitter: 4 Startups that Take the Pulse of the Twittersphere

Polling Twitter: 4 Startups that Take the Pulse of the Twittersphere

We’ve argued in the past that Twitter can be a platform for serious discourse and our own Marshall Kirkpatrick famously stated last year that Twitter is even paying his rent (by which he meant that Twitter had become an invaluable tool in his blogging). But while Twitter can be a great facilitator of discussion, it can also be hard to follow and there’s something of a steep learning curve for new users. The four startups below aim formalize the discussion in Twitter around organized polls.

Twitter Census is probably the most sophisticated service in this mini-roundup. It takes advantage of the hashtags concept to track poll responses. Specifically, it tracks the #Survey hashtag. Users tweet a question referencing the #Survey hashtag, and then set a unique hashtag to log the responses. For example, if you wanted to poll your followers to see which was the most popular birth month among them, you might send out something like, “#Survey In what month were you born? #birthmonth” To respond, your followers need only reference your hashtag in an @ reply aimed at you, like: “@you February #birthmonth”

Twitter Census then tracks the results and displays them in a graph. The results are stored at a unique URL that is formed by joining username and survey hashtag, for example: http://twittercensus.com/hellp-tclaunch/. It has some neat features, like normalizing responses (so that “web 2.0,” “web20” and “web2.0” are all the same thing) and the ability for people to include comments with their answers. Unfortunately, though Twitter Census could be a useful tool for polling your followers, it doesn’t look like that many people are actually using it.

But say you don’t have a large group of followers to draw on. Enter Twitter Answers. Twitter Answers is a Q&A service build around Twitter that is essentially a gateway to the Mosio mobile question and answer community (also see our round up of general Q&A sites).

Twitter Answers works by taking questions that users send via direct message to the service’s Twitter account (QnA) and then outputting them to the Mosio community. Mosio members then send in their answers, which are listed on the on the Twitter Answers site and tweeted back to the asker. Unfortunately, Twitter Answers only allows for up to 4 answers per question.

Unlike Twitter Answers and Twitter Census, which help facilitate the asking of questions on Twitter, StrawPoll is aiming to create a community around polls. StrawPoll asks its followers a new question once every day, and users can vote with an @ reply including their reason. The poll results are collected and displayed in real-time (if you reload often) on the beautiful StrawPoll web site. It would be cool if users had some input into what questions get asked, though.

Like StrawPoll, TwittPoll is about answering questions sent to you via a Twitterbot. Unlike StrawPoll, the voting is done outside of Twitter — the bot sends out a question with a pair of choices and links to voting pages for each choice. And even more unlike StrawPoll, TwittPoll doesn’t seem to be active — no new questions have come down the pipe in about a month.

Are there any polling services for Twitter that we missed? Do you use any of the above services? Let us know in the comments.

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