One of the quickest and easiest ways to engage fans is with a question. Whether you’re soliciting feedback on Facebook or initiating a conversation on Twitter, questions can spark interactions across social platforms and strategies. But while status updates and tweets are sufficient vehicles, sometimes you need a more organized approach — and Google+ can help.

Google+ recently gave Pages and Profiles the ability to create and share polls. Not only do polls make it easy to collect opinions from fans and followers, but they can also provide deep insight into your customers and improve upon marketing campaigns. Additionally, seeking input from your community shows that you’re listening and want to develop changes with your customers in mind.

Here’s what you need to know about Google+ Polls and how they can be incorporated into your marketing efforts.

How to Create a Poll

Creating a poll on Google+ is as simple as adding a text update or sharing a link. Just follow these five easy steps and you’ll be collecting answers in no time.

  1. Select the Poll option from the status update box on Google+ and type in your question.
  2. Type in your desired responses — you can have up to five.
  3. You can opt to add an image to make your poll more interesting and engaging.
  4. Choose who you’d like to share the poll with, or leave it as public.
  5. Publish.

It’s worth noting that while you can edit the text of your question after you ask it, there’s no way to change the choices or photos. There’s also no way to close a poll after you start it unless you want to delete the entire post. Additionally, anyone who can see the poll but doesn’t want to formally vote can leave a comment or +1 the post. You’ll want to monitor these actions so you don’t miss anything as it circulates.

To see who voted in your poll, click the linked text that lists the number of votes. Here you can view the people who voted for each choice and the percentages of respondents who picked each one. Anonymous polling isn’t supported. The closest you can get to anonymous polling is limiting which Circles you share the poll with.

And finally, at this time, there doesn’t appear to be a way to measure votes for a response at a specific point in time. If this, or storing responses, is critical to your campaign, you might consider using a Google Form instead. You can embed the link to that form in your Google+ post and share it with followers. This way you’ll have access to timestamps and a complete history of feedback.

Before You Create a Poll

As with most fresh features, you’re probably eager to start using the new polling tool. If used correctly, polls could breathe new life into your Google+ strategy. But before you start asking questions, here are a few best practices to consider.

Pace Yourself

While polls can return interesting feedback, it’s possible that some people might find them obnoxious if overused. You’ll want to maintain a semi-regular schedule, just as you would with regular social posts. Space out your inquiries far enough that followers have time to respond and share one poll before you create and publish another one.

To extend the lifespan of your poll, consider whether its results would be of interest to your followers. If so, share them! Participants will likely be curious about the outcomes, and posting any interesting findings from the survey can help you reach a wider audience.

Maintain Relevancy

This tip is two-fold. First, you’ll want to be sure that your polls are relevant. Straying too far from your products, services, or overall tone on Google+ could confuse your followers. Your content should be consistent, no matter how it’s presented, and should maintain the same tone or messaging you’ve created for this particular platform.

Second, don’t make polls just because they’re available. Keep in mind that Facebook had a similar polling feature, called Questions, that it removed in 2013 to cut back on redundancies. While it has remained in some capacity for select Facebook Pages, brands primarily rely on high quality News Feed updates and Promoted Posts for engagement now.

We bring this up only to remind you that polls should be used only when relevant. If something makes more sense as a status update, or if the question asked doesn’t offer much value, don’t create a poll just for the sake of using the feature. In some cases, you’ll find discussions within the comments section to be a more engaging experience for both your team and customers.

For more information about Google+ Polls, including how to create them from your iOS or Android device, visit the feature’s page on Google+ Help.