Polar, the social voting app that raised $1.2 million from Yahoo founder Jerry Yang, Google’s Don Dodge and other prominent investors last year, is launching its free self-service solution for publishers today.
We, just like a number of other publishers, have occasionally used Polar for polls in our own posts in the past, but to do so, we had to work with the company directly. The company argues that using its polls can help publishers increase reader engagement exponentially when compared to traditional comments. Leaving comments, after all, tends to take a bit of work, while just clicking a poll is pretty easy. Judging from the data Polar has shown us, the ratio of comments to poll participation is often one to 1,000.
As Polar founder Luke Wroblewski notes, the shift to mobile has made commenting harder for readers. “When you look across the web, most sites rely on tools created during the desktop era for engagement,” he argues. Readers still want to engage with publishers, but instead of traditional commenting forms, he thinks, “the shift to mobile is a very compelling reason to look for other solutions to audience engagement.” Publishers can then also use the results of their polls to get a more representative sample of their readers’ opinions.
To get started, publishers use Polar’s responsive web app to either select a pre-made poll or to create their own. To create a poll, users simply write a question and two answers to choose from and select an image to go with each one of the answers. Users can upload their own images or use Polar’s built-in tools to search for Creative Commons-licensed images, product shots from Amazon and images on Wikipedia.
Once the poll is finished, all they need to do is embed the code into their stories. Using the company’s publisher tools, they can then watch the voting process in real-time.
Overall, working with Polar is pretty straightforward. We have seen very high engagement rates every time we have used Polar in our own posts, so chances are you will see them pop up on TechCrunch pretty regularly going forward.