Social Media Marketing: Interactive content

The Rise of Interactive Content: Engaging Your Audience

If there’s one word that sums up the goal of social media marketing, it’s engagement. In fact, the same can be said about digital content strategies in general. Yes, you can have accounts on all the in-vogue social platforms your target demographics use. Yes, you can have channels brimming with flash content that you drip feed and plug through your socials.

But without engagement, what’s it all for? If people aren’t engaged by (or, perhaps more importantly, engaging with) what you’re posting, you’re unlikely to be getting many likes and shares. You won’t be growing your audience very fast (and may start to lose followers). No ‘buzz’, fewer followers – that’s going to translate into disappointing traffic to your sales channels, fewer conversions, and fewer sales. And then your whole investment in social comes into question.

That’s the crucial difference engagement makes. As a social media marketing agency, we know that the really valuable connections come when people are engaging with your content. Which brings us neatly to interactive content.

Interactive content is the kind that prods your audiences into reacting to or otherwise acting on what you have posted. When they do, you know for sure that they are engaged. And that leads to all the other good stuff, including creating the conditions for an ongoing dialogue with customers that allows you to learn in detail about who they are, what they want, and how you can deliver.

In this article, we’ll run you through what interactive content is, why it makes such a difference on social media, and we’ll share some of our best ideas for making interactive content.

What is interactive content?

Think about most content you see online. The text you read on a webpage. A video clip you watch, or audio you listen to. How much ‘action’ is required from you as you consume it? The answer is, not much. You can consume without responding. Which makes it a pretty passive process.

Interactive content tries to break that mould. It is content designed to make the audience react in some way. In most cases, prompting a person to take whatever action is suggested is the main purpose of the content.

Aha, you say. But surely based on that definition, everything posted to social media is ‘interactive’, because people can like, tag or share everything they see. There’s always an opportunity to react.

There’s a subtle but important difference here. If you post a blog or a video clip to social media, the nature of that content doesn’t change. It is still consumed in that largely ‘passive’ way we talked about. It’s still what we call ‘static’ content. It’s the social media platform that provides the interactive options. Interaction hasn’t been built into the design of the content.

And that’s the crux of it. Compared to a blog or a video clip, a quiz or a poll or a live Q&A or an invitation to people to post their own stories are all interactive by design. They all need people to react in order to work. And that, as we shall see, does wonderful things for engagement.

Why create interactive content for social media?

We’ve already given away the big answer as to why interactive content makes such a difference on social media – it drives better engagement.

There are plenty of statistics to back this up. According to data from sales enablement software specialist Mediafly, interactive content gets nearly double the views static content does, and raises average viewing time by more than 50%. An oft-quoted study by Demand Metric found that interactive content had a ‘share rate’ of 38%, compared to 17% for static content.

Perhaps most important of all, these extra engagement levels lead to a whole host of other benefits. The Content Marketing Institute found that message retention improved by 79% when interactive content was used as part of content strategies. Going back to Mediafly again, 88% of marketers they surveyed said they found interactive content helped them create an important point of difference to competitors.

All of which begs the question. If interactive content is so great, should we be making all content interactive?

The advantages interactive content brings don’t mean that ‘static’ videos, blogs, infographics, reports, papers, podcasts and all the rest no longer have value. What interactive content does is give an extra push to engagement that helps all content perform better.

The Content Marketing Institute report referenced above picks up on this. Marketers said that message retention was improved when interactive and static content were combined.

Another reason to include interactive content in the mix is that it makes it easy to measure engagement. Yes, you can track traffic and clicks, likes and shares with any type of content on social media. But with a blog, say, how can you be sure how many of those clicks and shares have led to people reading through to the end? With interactive content, every response is confirmed, measurable engagement.

And it goes a step further, too. Much of the engagement you get from interactive content is in the form of feedback from your audiences. Interactive content often encourages people to share their own ideas, opinions and stories. That’s invaluable for getting to know your demographics better. It gives you rich insight into who they are, which you can use to optimise all of your content.

Interactive content ideas

Interactive content is that it comes in many different forms. This in itself is a benefit, as the variety means there is no risk of getting repetitive and having to recycle the same ideas over and over again. In fact, the many different ways you can make your content interactive can help to freshen up your social posting in general.

Here are some common interactive content ideas you’ve more than likely come across.

Interactive content

Quizzes, contests and games

There’s nothing more engaging than fun, and games are a time-honoured way of harnessing the ‘fun factor’ in a broad range of contexts. Think about the Friday afternoon team quizzes that we’ve all experienced in the workplace at one time or another. What’s their purpose? To create a break from the norm, a bit of light entertainment that brings people together.

The same is true about using quizzes and games in marketing content. There’s just something intrinsically engaging about them, they encourage people to click through and hang around your channels, and they forge a connection. And if you can turn them into a prize contest, all the better.

Polls and surveys

Picking up on the theme of using interactive content to gather useful insights about your audience, there’s nothing better than running polls and surveys. People like to be asked their opinions, and letting your audience know that their views count is great for building a strong brand relationship.

Polls can be used on social media simply to stimulate debate, for example asking people to vote on a hot topic of the day. It gets people talking in and around your channel, which is only good for visibility and traffic. But you can also use surveys in a more targeted way, for example, to ask for feedback about products, digital and brand experiences, even the type of content you put out, and use those insights to shape your next campaigns.


This is a really great tactic for building relationships with your brand. Often run under the acronym AMA (‘ask me anything’), Q&A sessions turn the tables on a poll or survey and put your audience in charge of asking the questions. Again, it’s empowering, but it also lets people know that you are a transparent, approachable brand.

Q&A’s work even better if they are run by a named individual at your organisation, which adds the extra dimension of a personal connection. Q&A’s can also be spun into set piece events, with ‘live’ sessions taking place at fixed times, giving you something to promote across your channels.

User-generated content

Finally, another mainstay of interactive content on social media is asking people to contribute their own content that you then share on your channels. This is a really open-ended field, but one easy example is a simple ‘share your story’. This can be applied to pretty much any topic you post about, and in return, you get a resource of ready-made best/funniest/worst stories to curate and work with.

The same idea applies to ‘hashtag’ campaigns, where brands ask people to create and post content on a chosen theme using a campaign hashtag. These are particularly good ways of encouraging people to respond with photos of themselves either using a product or in a situation linked to a campaign theme. Each response serves as its own endorsement.

Final word

The evidence that interactive content helps to boost engagement and brand awareness on social media is compelling. What’s even better is that interactive content is often low-cost and easy to create, with little in the way of extra investment or specialist technical know-how required.

That said, as is always the case, interactive content per se will not boost the performance of your social media campaigns. It has to be used as part of a larger strategy, with clear goals in mind, and a clear idea of how interactive content will help to achieve them.

To find out more about introducing interactive content to your digital marketing strategy, get in touch to talk about our social media marketing services.

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