Pret, cups and Instapolls

A retweet from Pret A Manger’s CEO Clive Schlee, recently popped up in my feed. It invited answers to the following question:

And people responded in their 1000s, with everything from a simple vote to detailed thinking about sustainability and economic theory – even a few suggestions for further reading!

Pret chose the method that fitted the channel best. An open-ended discussion for Twitter, and an easy poll within Instagram stories which proved the most popular, with over 5000 responses and 96% in favour of the increased discount.

I think Pret’s use of social media polls in this instance was genius. They probably had a fairly good idea that the discount increase was the way they wanted to go. A less forward-thinking brand might have just rolled with that. But Pret saw this interactive approach as a unique opportunity to test an idea and show how highly they value their customers feedback.

Perhaps more significantly, it was also an opportunity to start a conversation that will have a lasting positive brand association for Pret. To include the customer in major decisions like this positions Pret as a pioneer of ideas that have the power to change behaviour on a massive scale – idea that will hopefully have a far-reaching and positive impact on our environment.

As discussed in Sustainability: Brands to watch, our post about the circular economy and making ethical choices, we throw away seven million coffee cups a day in the UK, and next to none of these can be recycled. The Pret customer now feels part of a movement for change (which helpfully displaces from the customer’s mind the fact that, up until this point, Pret have been happily serving your daily coffee in cups that can never be recycled).

The brilliance of social media feedback and channel polling tools is that the polls themselves are fun. We LOVE being asked for our opinions on stuff. Even stupid stuff. Especially important-looking stuff. (See also: the research we did into informers and meformers for #SelfieWithShakespeare)

So when a brand we’re already paying attention to on the internet asks us for input through a lovely, easy, disposable format like a poll on an Instagram story, or in a discussion on a platform like Twitter where we love getting stuck in, we *want* to respond.

And more than that, we want to know how everyone else responded.

This is the social proof genius of Instagram and Twitter polls: you can’t see how the result is progressing unless you do the poll.

On Twitter, if you vote, you can see the results in progress straight afterwards. If you don’t, you can only see how others voted after the poll is closed. On Instagram, you can can see what the tables look like after you’ve hit that interactive sticker button – and the results are gone within 24 hours, just like all Insta stories.

While Twitter polls can be set to run for different amounts of time up to a week, Insta stories only last for 24 hours. The time-limited nature of the polls adds urgency to interest.

And what do brands get out of all this? Interaction, feedback, data and more content! Customer-led substantiation for new products and service changes, and ultimately the power to elevate perceptions of their brand.

It’s also an interesting manifestation of the industry’s push towards greater transparency in advertising and marketing – inviting feedback, making that feedback visible, then acting on it.

And finally, polls are fun. Polls allow us to race snails on Twitter…

Get soft sentiments and easy engagement on instagram…

And even educate followers with a very visual quiz…

So what do you think? We have set up our own poll on Twitter where you can vote on how useful you think this post is. Go to our Twitter account @markmaking1995 to vote!

Written by Chloe Marshall

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mark-making* is an award-winning creative agency specialising in branding, campaigns and communications