Consider the majority of the kind of content that you find on the Internet each and every day. This blog post that you are reading right now is a prime example of that. Perhaps you subscribe to the RSS feed and the story popped up in your feed reader of choice. Maybe you follow John on Twitter and you saw the tweet saying there’s a new article. Or maybe you actually typed in johnchow.com into your browser to see what new posts went up today.
Regardless of how you found your way onto this page, the bottom line is that you’re here now. And you’re reading these words that I would have typed out some time before. This is, for the most part, a passive experience for you as a web user. Even if you choose to post a comment below, it’s still more about passive consumption.
This doesn’t stop with blog posts, of course. Any time that you listen to a song on Spotify or watch a video on YouTube, it’s a matter of passive consumption. It’s exactly the same when you skim through an infographic or you listen to a podcast or you read an e-book or a white paper report. It’s all passive. But does it have to be that way?
One of the fastest emerging trends on the Internet today is something called interactive content. As its name clearly indicates, this is content with which the site visitor actually interacts. They’re not passively consuming this information or entertaining, but they are rather actively engaging with it.
You may have noticed the countless quizzes that flood your Facebook news feed. You find out which Marvel character you are, how much Canadian slang you know, or what your choice in food has to say about your choice in women. And if you’re like so many other people online, there’s likely a better chance that you clicked on through to take one of these quizzes than you clicked to read a blog post or a news article.
From the perspective of the content creator, that’s a great thing. Quizzes and other types of interactive content have this incredible ability to break through the noise and not only get noticed, but actually get people to click through and engage with the content.
And by engaging with the content, these users immediately feel far more connected to it, with more a vested interest in the results of the quiz, than if they were to read an equivalent article or blog post. And that’s not to say that blog posts don’t have their place, but interactive content could be a very worthwhile avenue to explore, regardless of the niche that you approach.
It’s easy to brush off the “fun” quizzes to let you know which Harry Potter character you are or in what country you should really be living. These quizzes aren’t meant to be taken seriously and they’re definitely not based on any kind of scientific fact. However, not all interactive content is “useless fluff” like that. A mortgage calculator, like the one shown above, is useful and it provides tremendous value to the people who need to use it.
All sorts of similar calculators and online tools function in a similar way as “interactive content,” just like the tools that you may use to determine the PageRank and domain authority of your website or the quizzes you may use to figure out how much you should be charging for your freelance graphic design services.
When coded properly, interactive content can have the added value of providing you with some really incredible user data. When funneled through to your mailing list, for example, the results of these quizzes and calculators can factor into the kind of content that you present to that subscriber or the types of products you promote to them.
Yes, it is absolutely true that developing interactive content will likely require a lot more leg work that writing out a blog post or even producing a well-designed infographic. But if you want to get noticed on the web moving forward, and you want to improve the engagement of people on your site, interactive content might need to be a part of your overall content strategy.