We all love a good story. It dates to the Neanderthal days, when that species enjoyed sharing hunting tales and illustrating adventures on cave walls.
Although the ways we share stories these days have advanced technologically, these underlying principles haven’t changed:
• Stories are friendly and conversational.
• Stories focus on ideas that improve, entertain and inform.
• Stories touch hearts, minds and lives with a relevant message.
Unfortunately, these advantages of good storytelling are too often lost amidst content that’s built for conversion’s sake. This is a huge loss, given that the power of stories can make content more engaging, and that the mechanics of a good story can be used to transform any piece of content into something far more interactive and enjoyable.
How can you incorporate the power of engaging stories into your content campaigns? The following seven techniques will help get you started with interactive content:
1. Bring your video content to life.
Watching videos is a passive activity. You don’t have to do anything to make anything happen on the screen. Unless the video is fascinating, your mind may wander.
One way to keep your viewer’s attention is to add interactive hotspots—essentially, tags that create motion. Hotspots often are used as a way to add links that’ll encourage the viewer to learn more about a product.
How does it work? You can see interactive hotspots in action in this hilarious video that illustrates the many shaving options available for men.
2. Make your white papers interactive.
The classic white paper bears the weight of authority and the stamp of tradition. In fact, the history of the white paper dates to the 1920s. Although it’s one of the few venerable media left in today’s marketing landscape, it’s also experienced a creative makeover for the digital age.
I’m not just referring to making it into a PDF document, or incorporating Web writing best practices of using relevant keywords, short paragraphs and crisp sentences.
Instead, I’m talking about something even more revolutionary than a format and stylistic change. I’m talking about the addition of audiovisual enhancements and the embedding of multimedia components.
Today’s white paper isn’t just text anymore. It asks interactive questions. It presents calculators to help figure things out. It incorporates videos to explain how things work.
3. Add interactive polls.
Since most consumers love to share their opinions, it’s no surprise that people love the feeling that comes from taking polls. For marketers, polls practically are a gift from the gods, as they’re one of the most powerful ways out there to figure out what people want.
Steve Jobs relied on intuition to figure out Apple’s products. Interactive polling evens the playing field. It’s making even average marketers savvier about what to make and sell.
Sure, polling has been around for a while, but before the digital era, it was expensive to carry out. You either had to hire a polling company or people to make cold calls or accost strangers on the street to get the information you needed.
Even questionnaires, another form of polling used extensively in the past, had their problems. After people filled out their questionnaires, the results had to be manually tabulated, leading to major delays and clunky data sets.
Interactive polling gets rid of all these early problems by making polling inexpensive, nonconfrontational, fun and easy to tabulate.
4. Teach instead of sell.
Instead of pitching with your content, use it to teach instead of sell. When it’s time to sell later on, focus on using good copywriting strategies to entertain and persuade.
5. Make your content memorable.
If you’re going to go to the trouble of crafting content, at least make sure it’s memorable. Traditional advertising used jingles and slogans to capture viewers’ attention. But with interactive content, you have many more options:
• Add an interactive quiz to engage visitors.
• Add video cartoons to illustrate an idea.
• Add audio interviews for case studies.
• Use polls to help people assess their learning progress.
6. Write with emotion.
Writing with emotion makes content more interactive immediately, simply because viewers engage with it on a deeper level. You can make an even deeper emotional connection through the use of audiovisual components — just be sure you don’t overwhelm your content’s purpose with too many bells and whistles.
7. Stimulate the creative “right brain.”
Reading content engages the analytical “left brain,” but to stimulate the creative “right brain” for full interactivity, make your content aesthetically pleasing.
Use design elements of color and form to grab attention. Remember: People like what they can instantly grasp, so consider adding interactive infographics when possible to show the relationship between key concepts.
Supersize your content.
Why just have a burger, when you can also have fries with it? Use interactive content to supersize your tasty content. It’s a win for you, and a win for your visitors.
PR Daily readers, what kinds of interactive content are you using on your website? Leave a comment below sharing your favorite strategies for engaging readers.
Aaron Agius is an experienced search, content and social marketer. A version of this article originally appeared on Entrepreneur.com. Copyright © 2015 Entrepreneur Media, Inc. All rights reserved.