What is interactive content?

Interactive content requires your users to engage with it actively. Its immersive nature means that your audience will spend more time engaging with your business with their undivided attention, giving you strong engagement metrics.

If you’ve been using the internet at all over the past decade, then chances are you’ve come into contact with at least one form of interactive content. From quizzes and calculators to interactive infographics, there is a ton of interactive content out there.

The discovery of content is happening mainly through social media

Churning out piece after piece of content is not an effective way to reach your customers. Although content is king, only high-quality, engaging content converts leads and captures new audiences.

The bombardment of advertising we see wherever we go means that many people have become immune to advertising and various types of content. In turn, this has led to social media becoming a key platform for content discovery, with social media accounting for  5.6% of referral traffic on the web in 2017.

interactive content

The rise of smartphones has also led to social media becoming an important platform in content discovery. Nowadays everyone is glued to their phones and the average smartphone users spend two hours on their phones every day. This number goes up for the age groups of 18-24 & 25-34 so, if that’s where your target audience is, creating social media and mobile-friendly content is even more important.

To have your content seen and engaged with nowadays it needs to be put on social media and therefore be both social media and mobile friendly. Interactive content is a great way to grab attention on social media as well because they require the user to stop scrolling and focus their attention on your piece of content.

Interactive content on social media

Lots of brands are embracing interactive content and seeing amazing results. Back in 2013, the New York Times most popular story was an interactive quiz rather than an article.

interactive content - nyt quiz

After seeing such great results from this quiz, The NYT has made interactive content an integral part of their content strategy. They share them on social platforms like Facebook and Twitter and have seen a high level of engagement through reactions, comments, shares, likes and retweets.

Buzzfeed is another brand that has conquered interactive content on social media. 75% of all their traffic comes through social referral and a large amount of their content includes interactive elements such as interactive articles and quizzes. One of their quizzes has even been viewed more than 22 million times.

interactive content - buzzfeed h&m

Interactive content like this is irresistible for many social media users. It takes a short amount of time to complete, it’s fun, it keeps your attention by demanding engagement and is simple to interact with and share.

What do your customers want?

  • Customers want answers, or they want to have fun – interactive content can do both.
  • Authenticity and participation are two things essential for engaging an audience – especially an audience that is under 35 – and interactive content gives you a great way to do both.
  • 75% of content marketers say they have incorporated interactive content into their marketing strategy as a way to educate their audience.
  • Interactive content is what your customers want and if you give it to them they will keep coming back for more.
  • The results that brands are seeing from using this type of content are huge;79% say thatinteractive increase retention of brand messaging and boost their number of returning visitors.

The way people browse the web is changing….and content marketers need to adapt

Peak Google

Google owns search but in future, search may not be the main way we discover content on the web. As we embrace the advancing social searches within platforms like Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn and Pinterest, Google may see a decline in traffic.

Over the past few years, there have been times where social media has referred more traffic than Google. Whilst recently, Facebook’s social referrals have taken a dip, most likely because of privacy concerns, it’s likely to see a rise again soon.

Mobile users

Mobile overtook desktop for the volume of web browsers for the first time in 2016 and since then the gap has just been widening. Creating content that is mobile friendly should be one of your top priorities.

Mobiles have much smaller screens and less horizontal space, but an infinite amount of vertical scrolling space – you should take this into consideration when creating content. Unlike desktop users, mobile users tend to use their device for a short amount of time. This means they expect content to load instantaneously-  so consider this when you create and publish content.

Mobile users have also come to expect interactivity. Smartphone users will be used to using apps, which are generally more engaging than web pages. Using interactive content such as interactive infographics is a great way to keep their attention and help you compete with competitor apps.

Going directly to content rather than landing on the homepage

Internet users are now landing directly on content rather than on your website’s homepage.

A New York Times study showed that once upon a time people would come to their homepage when they were browsing. Today, on the other hand, they are finding that users are visiting their content through a ‘social side door.’ This is when a user clicks on an article or another piece of content when on social media, go across to your site, consume your content and then go back to their social media feed.

interactive content - in app experience  interactive content - in app experience

Example: Clicking a link on social media, being taken to the article, and then clicking ‘done’ takes the user back to social media. 

These users visit your site but they never see your homepage, this is a fairly new way of browsing the web and just shows how content marketers and designers have to adapt to the ever-changing online world. In future homepage design is likely to become far less important and creating higher quality content that gets users to click will be more of a priority.

Want to learn more about how interactive content can benefit your business? Check out our post on how you can use interactive content to skyrocket your marketing strategy

A version of this article originally appeared on our UK blog.