4 Secrets to Better Interactive Social-Media Content

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What's at the top of your social feeds these days?

A quick scan of my own feed reveals everything from re-tweets of the day's top news stories to envy-inducing snapshots of friends lounging poolside on vacation. I follow dozens of brands on social media too, but their social content doesn't even make it to the first 10 posts on my feed.

So, what gives?

Great social content shapes how prospective customers perceive your business’s brand and starts building loyalty long before these folks ever make a purchase. But if your content is getting buried under poolside selfies and trending new stories, you're effectively flushing all those social media marketing dollars down the toilet.

Related: 12 Proven Tactics for Rapidly Growing Your Presence on Social Media

Consider this: Every minute in 2014, Facebook users shared nearly 2.5 million pieces of content, Twitter users tweeted nearly 300,000 times, and YouTubers uploaded 72 hours of new video content, according to ACI. Interactive social content is key to standing out in this sea of digital clutter and cultivating meaningful relationships.

You might think, "But my content is already interactive – I always post pictures!" Here's the truth: In 2015, images alone just don't cut it. For years, social media experts have cited the inclusion of engaging images as key to driving content shares on social media. And there's no denying that adding images to social media posts can be effective.

For example, Facebook status updates containing images generate 104 percent more comments, 54 percent more likes, and 84 percent more click-throughs, according to this infographic from Kissmetrics. Earlier this year, QuickSprout blogger Neil Patel shared how adding pictures to his tweets increased his click-through rate by 108 percent. But with 84 percent of all Facebook shares containing pictures, including great images is no longer enough to guarantee stand-out content.

If you’re already including photos and videos with your social media content, don’t stop there. Take your content to the next level by making it truly interactive. From quizzes and surveys to reveal-based marketing that spike's a customer's curiosity, adding interactive social content to your marketing mix is key for boosting brand engagement and creating truly stand-out content. Here’s where to get started:

1. Reveal-based content

Reveal-based content follows a simple, age-old marketing principle: consumers inherently want that which they cannot touch, see or hear. Examples of reveal-based marketing include promotions or discounts that require users to scratch away, spin or otherwise interact with the ad before receiving the discount. Reveal-based content is perfectly suited for mobile media consumption where users can use touch screen capabilities to spin a game show wheel or wipe away the screen to reveal a message.

Not all reveal-based content needs to be a sales or promotion code. This interactive approach works well for telling a story in multiple parts. Start-ups like Scratch It are pioneering the reveal-based content marketing space. Expect to see more creative interactive content making its way around social media in the next year.

Related: 9 Huge Mistakes You Don't Know You Are Making on Social Media

2. Quizzes

Most millennials can’t log into Facebook these days without seeing a dozen different quizzes in their news feed. Despite this high level of saturation, quizzes can still be a gold mine for interactive content -- they just need to be written in a way that will stand out in a sea of social media posts.

Start with the title. The top three quiz titles, according to Social Media Explorer, are titles that: (1) Make a celebrity comparison; (2) Follow the “Which [Blank] are you?” pattern; or (3) The “Actually” title (e.g., assessing a simple skill that becomes a challenge). Keep your content on message for your brand.

For example, last year Random House created a unique Destination Inferno quiz around the release of Dan Brown’s latest book using SnapApp. While the quiz looks like a straightforward trivia challenge, at the end of the quiz, Random House reveals another twist, telling players that symbols have been placed on each of the previous quiz pages to form a code that can be redeemed for a special reward on Dan Brown’s website.

3. Branded web series

Take your videos to the next level with a branded web series that includes multi-episode narratives rather than just a one-off short video. With a 43 percent increase in year-over-year online video starts according to Adobe Digital Index, branded web series are about to have a big moment.

Major companies are already jumping on the branded web series bandwagon. Chipotle, fresh off the viral success of its 2013 Scarecrow film and game, sponsored the satirical Farmed and Dangerous web series that “explores the outrageously twisted world of industrial agriculture.” While Chipotle’s budget of $250,000+ per episode might be the equivalent of some business’s entire social media marketing budget, the good news is you don’t have to drop a significant amount of cash for a viral web series.

Snapchat’s Literally Cant’ Even is a low-budget web series where the five-minute episodes disappear after 24 hours (similar to the social network’s famous disappearing messages). Still not sure a branded web series is for you? Try experimenting with a branded comic series first, like HubSpot’s series on inbound marketing, which the company first introduced in 2011.

4. How to measure interactive content’s success

When it comes to measuring the success of your interactive content, pay close attention to metrics recording reach, completion and amplification. Reach refers to the number of users who engaged with your content. This could be the number of people who click through to take the quiz or the number of views initiated with a video. This number reflects the widest reach of initial engagement your content receives.

Completion is the number of users who actually finished the engagement. For example, how many people wiped away a reveal-based ad to see a promotion code, or how many users actually completed the quiz (versus bouncing out at question two or five)? Finally, amplification refers to the social shares your content received from users. How many people liked, re-tweeted or re-posted your quiz or web series?

These metrics will help you understand where your content connected or fell short with its intended audience. For example, if amplification is high, but completion is low, this could indicate you’ve got a catchy title or image folks want to share, but they’re less interested in actually interacting with the material. Use these metrics to determine which types of content resonate most with your target audience and tailor your future content efforts appropriately.

Integrating interactive content into your current social media marketing strategy requires a thoughtful approach that ensures the content and message align appropriately with your brand. Like photos and short videos, reveal-based content quizzes and branded web series all have a place within your media mix. However, never push a piece of content out just because the medium is trendy if it’s not the right fit for your brand.

Like all effective marketing, your medium should naturally complement your message, not take away from it.

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