Here are two mind-blowing stats that came out this year:
The average human attention span is now 8 seconds-shorter than that of a goldfish.
27 million pieces of content are shared every day.
These two pieces of data go hand in hand. Our attention spans are growing shorter because we're constantly being bombarded with more and more information online. In order to keep up with even a fraction of everything being thrown our way, we have to spend less time assessing what's relevant and interesting.
Social media is one of the key tools we use to help with this content curation process. We rely on our friends, followers, and connections to help us find the best content out there on the web-content we actually care about and will find useful in our personal or professional lives. Social media also allows us to access a snippet of content before we commit to reading or watching a full piece. Additional, we can personalize our content consumption experience on social by following specific people and accounts.
My question is this: If people use social media on a daily basis to choose which content is worthy of their time and attention, shouldn't we content marketers be creating content that reflects the trends we're seeing on social media?
While I'm not advocating for 140-character microblogs, I do think there are a number of best practices from social that marketers can apply to their content programs. The format I've found that best emulates the social media experience is interactive content. Things like interactive infographics, eBooks, quizzes, and microsites tap into buyers' growing preference for visual, dynamic content.
Let's explore how interactivity can help you provide more flexible, engaging content that aligns with current social media trends.
Benefit 1: Instant Gratification
Social media is all about instant gratification. It's no wonder that 22% of Americans check their social media accounts several times a day. When you get a message from a friend, receive a new follow from an influencer you admire, watch an adorable cat video, or read the latest headline from Inc, you receive a little dopamine and opioid hit that's pretty addictive.
Interactive content functions the same way. Unlike a traditional long-form article or whitepaper, where you have to dig deep into the content to get the full value of the piece, interactive content is visual, engaging, and makes an immediate impact on the viewer. It stimulates curiosity and the desire to explore further, increasing time spent interacting with your brand.
Benefit 2: Multimedia Storytelling
Once upon a time, the only thing you could share on social media was text posts. Now, most social networks allow you to share text, photos, links, and videos, creating a truly multimedia experience (in the semantic sense of the word).
Interactive content works the same way. Instead of being limited to text and images, as most traditional marketing content is, interactive content incorporates text, images, audio clips, videos, GIFs, animations, and interaction effects to bring stories to life in a 3-dimensional way. This sort of multi-modal, multi-sensory storytelling approach is what keeps people hooked on social media-and it can keep viewers hooked on your stories, too.
Benefit 3: Audience Participation
On social networks, people can like, comment, and share posts they're interested in. Users actively shape the conversation that happens around specific pieces of content, events, or hashtags. Collectively, our contributions shape the stories that live on in the internet universe.
With interactive content, the audience also gets to participate in the story by choosing where to click, what sections to read, what videos to watch, and which questions to answer. No longer does content consumption have to be a linear, one-way conversation; now the audience can have a "choose your own adventure" experiences that are personal, highly relevant, and more fun!
Benefit 4: Flexible Access to Content
One of the great things about social media networks is that they're valuable no matter what level of investment you put into them. For example, you can spend 5 minutes checking Twitter before a meeting, or spend an hour looking at articles you've curated in Twitter Lists, and find both interactions rewarding. If you had to spend a hour on the platform to benefit from it, you'd probably stop using it as much.
Interactive content solves the same issue of attention span (and/or time constraints) as social media. Even we content-hungry marketers don't always have 15 minutes to spend reading a 1500 word blog post on a topic we're interested in. With an interactive experience, you can engage on a surface level or dive deeper into the content if you have time or really dig the topic. Regardless of how much time you invest, you still get something valuable from your investment.
The Bottom Line
All the things we love about social media-its accessibility, relevance, multisensory storytelling, and personalized reflection of our interests and relationships-are things we can tap into with interactive content. If you're new to the interactive world, it may seem a bit daunting to get started. But don't worry-you don't have to hire a developer to build out custom resources.
There are a number of interactive content creation platforms you can leverage using your current content creation workflow with a designer. Instead of a static asset like a PDF or JPEG, you'll end up with a more dynamic, compelling, unique end result that will keep your audience coming back for more.