Social media has altered our perception of distance. It has truly brought the world closer by promoting conversations among users despite long distance physical barriers. As an open-to-public, free platform, it has allowed people to convey their thoughts, giving them a chance to be heard and validated. These interactive exchanges and the ability to foster relationships online also made social media communication prominent among brands who wished to build and develop lasting customer relationships. Soon engaging consumers in interactive marketing became instrumental for a business to succeed, develop a loyal customer base, and enhance brand reputation. Interactive posts lie at the center of social media communication for brands. With improved interactivity features, social media platforms enabled initiating marketing messaging and allowed control of the communication process.
With numerous brands fighting the war of attention, the social media presence of brands is beyond just sharing and promoting content. Earlier, simply publishing a few articles and tweets a month would suffice to grab the attention of users and increase brand following. However, in a world of constantly evolving communication tactics, this practice was quickly replaced with interactive two-way communication. This was enabled to help potential consumers connect with your brand on a daily basis. The attention of consumers is a moving target and what tactic might work today, might not necessarily work tomorrow. Consumer behavior, manner of interaction, and connection are subject to change. This promotes the requirement of a communication framework that takes into consideration the traditional consumer psychology, with modern preferences, and technological advancements. This is where interactive communication comes into play.
What is Interactive Communication?
Before we understand what interactive posts are and what they mean in the world of online presence, we first need to establish the definition of interactive communication. Without understanding interactive communication along with its effects and implications, it is difficult to replicate its successes and avoid pitfalls in the world of social media.
Effective interactive communication is a combination of both art and science. It is about leveraging technology to engage and connect with people on a one-on-one basis. Interactive communication personalizes the online experience by responding to consumers in real-time through automated responses. This form of communication aims to augment the brand experience for more people without the requirement of additional human resources. To effectively utilize interactive communication, one needs to consider predefined triggers such as user choice, cursor movement, and other available information to create a compelling brand experience. Online interactive communication used to be rigid and robotic. However, with advancements in artificial intelligence and machine learning, these interactions have become more fluid and engaging.
A company that shares daily polls, answers customer DMs, and responds to comments on their feed, not only has a larger following base, but also one that is loyal, and likely to stick around and support them.
Hence, interactive communication rests on two primary pillars:-
- Technology: Without the aid of technology, interactive communication on a large-scale is impossible. Common examples of technology driven interactive communication include chatbots, interactive videos, quizzes, contests, forms, score calculators, and interactive graphics.
- Humanizing conversations: However, technology alone is not enough for an efficient interaction. Adding a “human touch” to virtual conversations improves engagement levels. It is the inherent nature of humans to interact with one another. Digital media interaction is an opportunity for brands to find creative ways to deliver their experience. It is important to inject some personality and human connectivity for a truly interactive experience. This depends largely on the language that is used to connect with consumers online. Speaking directly to the recipient of the email and making them feel like a part of the brand often helps humanize the experience and breaks down the brand-to-consumer barriers. The best way for brands to have interactive communication is to try and replicate human interactions.
The concept of interactive brand communication is a fairly new construct and is largely underutilized leaving a lot of room for opportunity. Brands can create a competitive edge solely by attracting and engaging with consumers on a large scale. However, it is important to note that interactive communication cannot succeed if conversations feel rigid and robotic. To open up to a world of opportunities, brands need to create an experience that is exciting, automated, and at the same time highly personalized.
What separates interactive communication from linear communication (a one-way communication process) is receiving feedback. Interactive communication relies on feedback from the receiver and also alternates positions between the sender and the receiver.
This process of receiving feedback is particularly helpful for successful brand communications. By asking for their feedback brands can make consumers feel valued. When consumers feel like they are heard, they imbibe positive connotations with your brand and direct their good experience back at you. This in turn could lead to more sales in the future. Feedback can help improve the performance of brands as social media provides a platform to directly interact with customers and ask them for their opinion. Constructive criticism attained through interactive posts is the best way to formulate decisions and improve brand performance. Continued feedback equates to continued learning and allows organizations to align goals, create strategies, develop improved products and services, and enhance relationships.
What are Interactive Posts?
Now that we have established the meaning of interactive communication, the next step is to identify how this practice is replicated in social media communication through interactive posts. In a world that relied on the creation of a static copy to gain consumer attention, interactive posts can seem intimidating. They owe their increasing popularity in the world of marketing because of their ability to beat the competition, boost engagement and retention, and generate qualified leads. To put it simply, interactive posts consist of a piece of content that invites the active reaction of audiences as opposed to passive consumption of it. Interactive content can include calculators, assessments and interactive infographics, white papers, and videos. Today, consumers enjoy active engagement with brands and services before they arrive at a purchase decision.
According to research, 93% of marketers believe that interactive content is highly effective in educating potential customers and encouraging them to make a purchase. While interactive posts generally require more effort and money to create, they encourage users to spend more time and get more value. They can be used by brands to better acquaint themselves with their consumers. Some of the benefits of using interactive posts on social media include:-
- Higher Engagement Rates: The nature of interactive content is such that even mid-quality interactive posts typically elicit a reaction that immediately makes it more engaging than a written article. Not only do interactive posts enhance conversion rates but it also increases the number of shares if the content is cool, unique, and interactive. Content marketing has transformed from words on a page to immersive brand experiences that are created for the consumer. As brands are fiercely competing with one another to gain the attention of their viewers, it is important to optimise content so that it offers a more engaging and immersive brand experience. Audiences who subscribe to view your content, are those who have a genuine interest in the products or services offered. This engagement makes conversion easier.
- Increasing Retention: With interactive experiences, brands can nurture their leads and help their customers forge long term relationships with the company and truly connect with its services.
- Encourages Brand Differentiation: More than 88% of marketers believe that interactive posts are effective in differentiating your brand in the overcrowded marketing landscape. Interactive content helps you cut through the noise by making your brand stand out. For example, gamified content is proven to perform better and improve engagement with consumers online. Even interactive post ideas such as videos with product pages and “add to cart” buttons can encourage a reaction from viewers. The more creative brands get with their content, the better are the chances of them receiving a reaction from their audience.
- Improving Brand Loyalty: With the use of relevant data, brands can create personalised content. When you learn more about your audience, it becomes easier to create interactive posts that will be loved by them. This highly targeted content marketing establishes trust towards the brand in the audience.
Over time, this insightful data can even guide content marketing efforts and help win loyal brand advocates. The benefits of interactive content are therefore quite clear.
While it may seem challenging in the beginning to address the demand to create high-quality new content, the process eases with practice. An easy way to create interactive posts without having to constantly worry is repurposing passive content. Only providing a different perspective on an old idea can be a liberating way to consume the same content. Brands can convert their checklist blog post into an interactive assessment or use product images to create a poll for understanding which of the two has been liked best by the consumers. Complex research-based articles could be converted into a self-assessment quiz to encourage engagement.
How to Create Engaging Interactive Posts on Social Media
The success of any marketing initiative relies on effective application. There are certain ways in which brands can ensure effective engagement by incorporating interactive posts in their digital marketing strategies. While it can seem like a daunting task in the beginning to create fresh and engaging content ideas for a brand’s social media pages here are some tips to get you started with the process:
- Use Trends: With each day of the week, trends change. These daily trends are made into hashtag words. When these trends are used and incorporated in the description of posts it makes brands appear engaged and consistent with their social media presence. This can also help gain new followers and those who already follow you will have something to look forward to. However, it is important to keep in mind that the trends you use are relevant for your brand. If your hashtags are not relevant to the product or services offered by you, they might confuse your customers. Incorrect messaging creates a dissociative brand identity which is best avoided. Some daily trending hashtags include #MondayMotivation, #TriviaTuesday, #WhackyWednesday, #ThrowbackThursday, #FridayFeels, #SelfieSaturday, and #SundayFunday. There are numerous others out there that can be used by brands. Most social media platforms such as Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and even YouTube allow for search and discoverability using hashtags.
- Inculcate Days of the Year: There are different events or occasions associated with different days of the year. For example, January 17th, 2021 is Ditch New Year’s Resolutions Day to celebrate failures and disappointments. These peculiar days of the year can be used creatively by brands to acknowledge a cause or an event. When brands create posts keeping this in mind, they give their audiences something interesting to look forward to when they browse through their social media feeds. You can even use these days to create hashtag words for your interactive posts on social media. Brands can use usual and unusual days that match with their personalities and plan a promotion for that day and create designs using relevant images.
- Ask Your Followers: As social media is all about interactions, the best way to engage with your audiences is to directly ask them questions. Brands often hesitate to get the opinion of their customers however they will be surprised to find that customers love to give their opinion on almost anything if you ask them for it. For example, a furnishing brand can ask their customers to describe their dream home or ask for their help in decorating a room using pictures. Focus on visual content to drive engagement as they are noticed better compared to text-based content.
- Promote Local and Community Events: Irrespective of whether you are a business owner or an individual who is active on social media, your engagement with the local community that you function in, demonstrates your interest and involvement in it. This is perhaps the best way to show some goodwill and ensure that local followers engage and stay connected with you.
- Ask Users to Fill-in Answers: Interactive Facebook posts such as fill-in-the-blank posts are great at eliciting a response from the reader. The compelling nature of interactive Facebook posts alone is enough to boost the engagement on your social media page. While there are various types of fill-in-the-blank posts, the most common ones are: –
- Business or product-related: Here you can create a fill-in-the-blank post related to your brand or the product you sell. For example, Burger King can create a post that says “The first word that pops into my head when I think of Burger King is __________.”
- Industry-related: These posts are related to the market or industry you function in. For example, if you are an apparel brand you can ask people about their favourite winter wear or anything else that is generally related to your industry.
- Random topics: Not all fill-in-the-blank posts have to be related to a topic or a theme. Some posts could just be to have fun online. While some experts argue that this dilutes your company’s voice or brand equity, if you are interacting with your audiences daily, you can mix-up and create some interesting interactive Facebook posts for your audiences. You can ask audiences to describe their workday in a word or ask them about their favourite food when they are feeling low.
- Holiday and festivity related: As the name suggests, the theme of these fill-in-the-blank posts are holidays and festivals. These posts could be created with any of the three aforementioned types. Make sure that these posts are region-specific as different people and cultures celebrate different festivals. When in doubt, always research before posting.
It is important to plan your interactive social media posts ahead of time so that you don’t miss out on important events that may be coming up and are relevant to your brand. Coming up with social media posts is not a time-consuming task however a few hours need to be spent at the conclusion of every week to come up with ideas and banners for the coming week. It is also recommended to stay out of religious and political debates, to not rub your followers the wrong way.
Types of Interactive Posts
The true beauty of social media lies in its diversified features allowing to choose from numerous options. As interactive posts help create an immersive brand experience different content types can be used to achieve a company’s goals. These posts can be used to educate, inform, or entertain audiences. Among the numerous content types available, here are a few of the most popular types of interactive posts: –
- Interactive Infographics: A few years ago, infographics were restricted to the status of being the most sharable form of content. However, today, more than 40.2% of marketers believe that infographics are the best form of visual content to generate consumer engagement. They rate infographics higher than even videos, presentations, and data visualisations. However, creating an infographic is not enough. Instead, brands should think of ways to involve users by using interactive elements in them.
- Interactive Videos: There is a lot of debate about the reducing attention span of humans and we often get compared with the goldfish in this regard. However, if this were true, how is it that Netflix has us hooked through the weekend for a binge-watching session? It is safe to assume that if the content is captivating, audiences would be more than likely to offer their time and attention. Some interesting statistics about video content further validates this point:
- 360-degree videos are watched by more than 28.81%, and double the viewers watched the video to 100%
- People spend four times as much time watching live videos as compared to pre-recorded ones
Interactive videos are therefore by design the easiest type of interactive content to use in marketing. When a user is interacting with a video, their attention is entirely on the content which gives marketers the creative freedom to convey their brand messaging.
- Polls and Surveys: These are the most commonly used types of interactive content on social media. They are easy to set up and can be used to collect useful information from audiences. They can provide consumer feedback on the brand’s products and services, give insights such as their personal information, and can also be used to understand personal preferences. The difference between a poll and a survey is that the former has only one multiple choice question whereas the latter includes multiple questions. Polls require minimal interaction and therefore can be easily completed. Surveys on the other hand are more complex and require greater interaction. These are the oldest types of interactive content and are liked because they are enticing and fun to complete. The trick is to not have too many questions and not be overly intrusive to avoid deterring people.
- Calculators: These types of interactive posts could be used to address specific concerns and provide immediate answers – giving users instant gratification. The nature of this type of content makes it perfect for lead generation as it can provide quick wins for people in the middle stage of the buyer’s journey. Any information that can be quantified can be used for a calculator and the best aspect of this is they demand very little effort on part of the user. In return, they offer pure data to base their decision-making. It can be used to show your audiences how much money they can save by using your product.
- Assessments: This is a type of interactive content wherein the user answers multiple questions in exchange for valuable insights based on the topic or the theme of the questions. This is an objective form of receiving quality feedback and helping creators gain plenty of information about the user.
- Interactive E-books and White Papers: Although not as popular as infographics or videos, e-books and white papers pack an abundance of information into a concise, compact design. However, this is where the problem persists – modern-day consumers look for easy ways to get instant gratification. This does not mean that this long-form content is not worthy of consideration. If brands can come up with a way to make interactive e-books and white papers, they can ensure that these get shared.
- Interactive Emails: E-mails are a great way to communicate with consumers on a one-on-one basis. They make communication more personal as opposed to a public broadcast message as in on social media. This intimate design gives email marketing an edge in the rapidly evolving digital landscape. You can include interactive elements in your email, such as embedding videos, polls, charts, games, and more to drive better open rates and engagement.
- Augmented Reality: This form of interactive content is gaining rapid popularity that is only destined to grow. There are three types of extended reality:
- Virtual Reality (VR): where users can immerse themselves in a virtual world using VR headsets
- Augmented Reality (AR): these are layered graphics in a real-world environment. The beauty brand Sephora used augmented reality filters to show women how makeup products would look like on them.
- Mixed Reality (MR): a blend of VR and AR this offers interactive content that users can manipulate
There are numerous ways to include interactive content in your inbound strategy while using the various formats available. In comparison to static content, interactive content is very effective when it comes to educating the audience, differentiating from competitors, and being shared. Owing to the specific features of interactive posts, there are specialized websites and software that help with the creation of this type of content.