Content is everywhere. Of course, I would say that as a marketer who creates and consumes content every day. But it’s true: when I check Facebook my friends are posting articles; when I search how to calculate percentage increases (shamefully often!) I get content in a Google answer box; even whilst on holiday in Greece a restaurant had turned it’s menu into, you guessed it, content with snippets about the history of the town dotted amongst food and drinks.
All in all we’re bombarded with content and it’s becoming increasingly challenging for brands to stand out from all the background noise. Brands want to know what they can do to really grab the interest of their target audience.
Why create content in the first place?
The key will always be creating content that appeals to an audience in all the right ways. You need to know your audience and what works. Perhaps you want to help them answer a commonly asked question – that’s helping your audience to resolve a problem. Or maybe you want to make them laugh – that’s encouraging an emotional connection. You may want to encourage shares of something that shows them in a positive light to their friends and their own audience.
However, beyond getting the basics of your content right, there are a few other ways that you can help engage users with interactive content being a great start.
Encouraging audience participation
For the purpose of this blog, when I mention interactive content I mean content that requires some level of audience participation. Content that calls for the audience to do something instead of simply passively consuming. This may be to help them create something more tailored to their needs or to engage, share and like.
Of course, there are lots of ways that you can encourage audience participation when creating a content marketing plan. However, for many, interactive content can seem like a complicated – and often pricey – marketing tactic. For example, this native advertising by Netflix to promote Orange is the New Black includes interactive images, video and, undoubtedly, a huge amount of research and resources. Although the piece is really effective, it’s simply out of reach for many brands.
But that doesn’t mean we can’t take inspiration from such content. There are lots of techniques you can put in to action today to start generating content that encourages interaction.
Here are my five quick and easy tips to help you start creating interactive content:
1) Create a content map
Written content doesn’t have to be limited to blog posts and news stories. With a little dedicated time you could create a sort of ‘mind map’ of content that encourages users to click from one piece of content through to another.
Create a series of articles, which answer specific queries or provide advice and information, from which users can chose to click through to a selection of different articles that elaborate further.
For example, you could create a map to help visitors discover more about staple ingredients in the kitchen. They could click on to a factfile about an ingredient, then have the choice of whether to click through to a recipe using that ingredient, or to click through to a factfile on a similar ingredient, or even find out more about a kitchen appliance that is particularly useful for preparing that ingredient.
Try using free tools like Canva to create images, which visitors can click on to be taken to the next piece of content.
2) Make use of content you already have
Take stock of the content you’ve already created and consider how you could make it more interactive.
For example, perhaps you’ve already had a video produced (don’t forget, the future is video!) but you would like to increase the number of views the video receives. You could ask the audience to comment when they spot what colour a certain object is.
Perhaps you’ve created a quiz or step-by-step guide previously. You could revamp this to become an interactive Facebook app. With a little development work you could create an app that asks visitors a series of questions to reveal an answer or solution.
3) Ask questions
Think polls, questionnaires and quizzes – anything that requires an audience response for participation. You can download easy to use plugins for your website to encourage users to answer a question when they visit a blog.
In your email marketing you could ask a simple question, with a choice of three answers. Depending on which answer the recipient gives you could offer a prize or the opportunity to find out more. Grammarly did a great job of this, asking recipients to name ‘a group of lines forming the basic recurring metrical unit in a poem.’
Similarly on the right social media platform (like Facebook or Instagram) you could share a ‘spot the difference’ image. Or you could do a caption competition.
Just remember to offer the right incentive and keep the questions engaging and relevant.
If you haven’t tried live-streaming yet, then I would definitely recommend it! Apps like Periscope and Meerkat (here’s a list of some others too) allow you to broadcast live to an audience and are a quick way to encourage participation.
Most have a live chat option so questions can be asked during the broadcast, they often also have a ‘like option’ so viewers can interact at specific times and a ‘view later option’ so the video is saved for future audiences.
If you’re hosting an event, attending one or want to hold a simple Q&A session make sure you share it via a broadcasting app.
5) Think outside the box
The above are just a few different formats you could possibly adopt but perhaps the easiest way to sum up how to create great interactive content is ‘thinking outside the box’. Remember that it’s the story – the idea behind the content – that’s of utmost importance. Not necessarily the format. But once you have your bright idea think about how you could use different platforms and mediums to communicate it to the right audience and encourage engagement.
For example, Old Spice – known for their brilliantly funny marketing campaigns – thought of a witty story that even satirised marketing itself.
They created a series of Instagram accounts and strategically posted graphic novel style images on each. They then tagged each image so they linked with each other. The user was encouraged to tap each image and then tap the tags to jump to the next part of the story (which had numerous different endings). If you’re on Instagram, make sure you have a look – it’s great fun!
Similarly, Ribena recently promoted a video on Facebook that encouraged users to click on the video and then hover their phone in front of a friend. Although this example is a little more costly with a purpose made video it highlights how a great idea with the right format can become the perfect interactive content.
Is it just about engagement?
All in all, interactive content can be fun, informative or challenging but overall, it’s engaging. Have you created any interactive content recently? Or seen any other great examples? Please share them in the comments below – it would be great to see them.