Townhall: How to engage your audience one online micro-poll at a time

twon hall app

We know engaging with people online can be a challenge for businesses, nonprofits and government organisations.

But equally, we also know it’s vitally important.

We know people have shrinking attention spans and that scrolling through their social feeds via mobile device is now commonplace.

We know gaining insights from our desired target audience is critical as it can help us make more informed decisions from a communications perspective.

It was with this in mind I chatted with Keren Flavell, the founder of Townhall, an easy-to-use social survey tool she has been developing (and refining) for some three years. 

“At it’s heart”, Keren says in this interview with Alix de Noray, “Townhall is an online tool to capture realtime opinions from stakeholders. It was designed to increase responses to government consultations, after we kept hearing there were very low engagement rates. Townhall has since been used by local and state governments, community groups, sports teams and small businesses, as a way to connect, listen and learn from their target audiences, to build loyalty, participation and insights”.

Keren calls the Townhall app “a poll on steroids”. It has been used by organisations in Australia, New Zealand, Canada and South Africa; clients include City of Auckland, City of Holdfast Bay, Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs and the Department of Customs and Immigration.

While engaging the public with quick multiple-choice polls is a great way to stay in touch with your audience, it’s also important to keep the process simple not just for the those voting but for whoever is setting up the poll. Again, people haven’t got the time or the inclination to take your survey, but if you make it easy and interesting for them, your chances of increasing the levels of engagement can’t help but rise.

Indeed, the average share rate of Townhall surveys, according to Keren, is a whopping 50 per cent, which indicates to me participants enjoy the experience, get some degree of return on the small amount of time they invest in doing the poll, and therefore are happy to share it with their own personal networks online.

Having road-tested Townhall, I can say the simplicity of the platform is a definite feature. Indeed, according to Keren, “the market research industry is predicting itself that the future is single questions on the mobile”, so this direction makes perfect sense.

While Townhall can be used to gain insights for decision-making purposes, Keren says she advises clients not to always be going out with the really important consultation that has to have “the right authority”. Put out some friendly polls, she says; that’s the fun part that will lead to greater engagement for the organisation that’s running the poll.

In summary, if you’re in business or part of a government authority or community group – or indeed, if you’re a media publisher (and remember, brands are now becoming publishers in their own right), it’s worth having Townhall on your radar if collecting insights, growing engagement and strengthening community ties is a priority. 

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