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Lifting the lid on the new townhall

Over the past six months a hard working team in Vietnam have rebuilt the townhall platform from scratch.

After two years of running the tool as a Facebook app, built with PHP and an out-of-the-box content management system, it was time to take things to another level.

First of all, we needed to make it work on the mobile. Rather than ask participants to download an app, we decided to make it a web responsive app, so it displays the best layout according to the device that is viewing it.

Making it a web app also meant that people don’t have to be a Facebook user to sign-in and vote.

Registration only requires an email and participants have the choice to remain anonymous to the townhall organizer. We will be adding one click sign-ups to allow people to connect easily through their social accounts, but the user decides what additional data they are willing to disclose.

Secondly, we needed to build an entirely different content management system that is more intuitive and allows our customers to sign-up, manage their questions and account independently of us.

This also meant we could offer the tool for free, to give smaller organizations the chance to use a limited version of the tool.

The dashboard is a much easier design and there’s now an option to view demographic and result data online with colourful graphics and easy to understand data.

We decided to build the new townhall platform in Ruby on Rails using a postgres database with Unicorn as the web server.

Giving an optimal experience for the participant has always been our priority because that’s the only way to increase the number of the participants and the likelihood of sharing of the question through social networks.

The benefits for participation on townhall for the end user (participant) are:

Choice to remain anonymous
A single login for all townhall installations
Once only submission of demographic data (optional)
Ability to opt out of notifications
Ability to see results and compare opinions

The other big change you might have noticed is that we decided to rebrand. A new logo and a new name.

Townhall has gone beyond pure social and it’s closer to a platform, therefore, we wanted the brand name to be simpler so people feel comfortable just calling us townhall.

Take a look at the User Guide to learn how it works.

Visit our You Tube channel to watch screencasts.


Short surveys suit the social age

An article by Nielson Group over 10 years ago recommended to keep surveys short.

In a time of lightening fast social news feeds and 140 character updates, this advice would have even greater currency.

“One goal beats all others when designing a customer survey for a website: maximize the response rate.”

Low response rates are going to bias the results because only the committed users will have taken the time to participate.

The antidote, according to Nielson, is to keep your surveys short - very short.

“The highest response rates come when surveys are quick and painless.”

Like many things in life, making things simpler is actually harder. Can you pinpoint the one or two questions that are most important?

A Harvard Business Review articleThe One Number You Need to Growsuggests that only a single question needs to be asked in order to understand customer-satisfaction.

It’s author, Frederick Reichheld, is the author of a book, The Ultimate Question. It’s revised edition talks about how net-promotor companies thrive in a customer-driven world.

Recognising that the majority of your target audience are busy people is one step toward appreciating they don’t have time to answer your 20 survey questions.

Keeping things simple, asking a single question, will increase participation to a broader cross-section of people.

Your question is more likely to be shared through social networks, resulting in more awareness of your organisation and it’s efforts to listen to the voices of many, rather than just the “squeaky wheels” who can be bothered with long surveys.


Why native advertising on Facebook is hot right now

Native ads are discussed on the latest podcast by Amy Porterfield.

Facebook gives preference to native ads because it wants to add value to it’s users.

Native ads are sponsored posts that contain content of interest to the audience.

An example of a native ad

This means you need to make your Facebook advertising useful content rather than pure sales messages.

Once the end user links through to your content, you have the chance to build leads through other techniques to capture email or link people through to purchase online.

Asking a question using townhall is a great example of native advertising.

Stimulating conversation, debate or asking for feedback and ideas can be interesting to your audience and leads to building up your email list and engagement.


Why your questions should be all about them

So you’ve got your new townhall app set-up and you’re ready to start asking questions to your community.

Great! Now what questions do you ask?

Well lots brands instinctively want to ask questions about themselves.

Do you like me?

Am I good?

Which part of me do you like?

While these questions can work in focus groups or surveys where people are paid to participate, in general these kind of questions get a lacklustre response from a voluntary audience.

Even more than just participation, we want to inspire people to share the question with their friends and family.

This is the main benefit of being in social networks. Sharing!

Now remember that in social networks no-one likes an egomaniac, so it’s important to talk about things we all share in common, not just yourself.

You need to ask questions that inspire debate, highlight social issues, tap into what it means to be human.

We want an emotional response!

So, if you’re a sports team, ask who is the best player.

If you’re health food, ask if fasting after dark is a good idea?

If you’re an entertainment company ask who should win the Oscars?

If you’re a clothing label, ask about the use of recycled materials?

If you’re a city precinct, ask about local issues such as whether outdoor smoking should be banned?

Ask questions about etiquette, political issues, trends or lifestyle choices.

Checking social feeds for the trending topics can tap you into the conversation. Throw in a question relating to what’s being discussed and put a hashtag there so you become part of it.

There’s an unlimited range of questions you can be asking and an unlimited number of people willing to join the conversation.


Why email is trumping social

Research by McKinsey & Company proves that email marketing is 40 times more effective for acquiring customers than social media.

The State of Marketing Technology Winter 2015 Report from VentureBeat says email as the highest ROI of any marketing channel.

There’s some brilliant email marketing platforms out there, but how are you capturing email leads?

We focus on helping brands capture email through an opt-in method as part of a voting poll shared throughout social networks.

Your social networks are the way to reach your audience and engage them in a conversation through asking great questions - link to question blog.

When participants respond to the question there is an opt-out checkbox to sign-up to get email alerts from you. This builds a list of people who have chosen to receive your updates.

The list can be downloaded as a CSV file from your townhall dashbord and importe../../css/div__footer_class_.css"entry-meta">

Category: Email marketing, Online polls, Social media, townhall, Voting Tags: , , , ,