According to the recent survey by the USC Annenberg Center for Public Relations, PR agency leaders forecast the growth of the worldwide PR agency business from its current estimated size of $14 billion to $19.3 billion over the next five years.
The same leaders believe that the future growth of the PR industry will be fueled by content creation (81%) and social media (75%).
From these figures, it is evident that the array of social media platforms available on the market makes it possible for the digital PR professionals to explore myriad possibilities. But in their quest of exploring these possibilities, they forget to focus on the content before anything else because let’s not forget the fact that social media channels are by and large driven by content, especially the ones that are “interactive”.
According to Scott Brinker, ion interactive, author of ChiefMartec.com: “By its very nature, interactive content engages participants in an activity: answering questions, making choices, exploring scenarios. It’s a great way to capture attention right from the start. Individuals have to think and respond; they can’t just snooze through it.”
In essence, any content that prompts the end-user to take a call-to-action such as viewing or reading a post, downloading an image or a gif, clicking on a link, commenting on a post, sharing a post or persuade them to interact further is “interactive” content.
What is interactive content marketing?
Interactive content marketing is all about using content that engages and appeals to the end-users. It captures their attention and enhances their experience. It is still in its formative years with lots of scope for the future.
Some examples of interactive content on various social media channels are:
- Buzzfeed’s interactive quizzes, some of which link to brands’ landing pages.
- The Fallen of World War II, which is an interactive documentary created by Neil Harollan.
- This 360-degree video of HBO’s Game of Thrones title, which was an instant hit on Facebook.
- The team behind Martha Stewart Living integrated Rich Pins on Pinterest int their strategy.
- This Twitter poll conducted by Taco Bell for market research.
- Toms #withoutshoes campaign on Instagram, aimed at giving 100,000 new pairs of shoes to children in 10 nations.
- The ALS Ice Bucket Challenge, which was here, there, everywhere!
How different is PR content on social media versus traditional media?
PR on social media and traditional media is as different as chalk and cheese.
Instead of sending out monotonous press releases and waiting for the customers to notice, social media offers a plethora of options to explore for digital PR professionals, provided that they successfully integrate it into their strategies.
For instance, anything and everything that a brand posts on social media becomes a promotional material such as:
- Content on Twitter (posts, polls, videos, GIFs, quotes, mentions)
- Facebook and Instagram tags
- Participating in discussions on Facebook, Instagram, Quora, Reddit etc.
How can digital PR professionals integrate social media in their PR strategies?
- Create shareworthy content that goes viral
Content on social media needs to be short, concise, bite-sized, interactive.
And whether you post company updates, a listicle or running a contest, it should follow the norms of social media. Done correctly, the content will definitely go viral in no time.
A case in point is that of GE. The social media-savvy company launched #DRONEWEEK last year. The campaign leveraged Periscope and allowed its viewers to get a drone’s eye view of the firm’s facilities. This exclusive sneak-peek also featured expert interviews and commentary. This was something out of the blue surprised the end-users.
- Build interesting social campaigns
The growth of mobile technology, access to speedier internet connections and the advent of social media channels create the perfect setup for PR professionals to run their campaigns successfully. Add tech-savvy consumers to the mix and you’ll know why campaigns that involve consumers tend to do incredibly well for themselves on social media.
Take the case of Chipotle Mexican Grill, which takes its followers on Instagram behind the scenes. The followers can see avocados, corn chips, fresh cilantro, onions or jalapenos being used in various recipes. This piece of authentic information helps the brand establish credibility on the virtual media and connect to its customers.
But it is not always emotional content that makes the end-users interact. Even content with a controversial undertone (but not something that gives the brand a bad rep) can work wonders.
An apt example would be that of Toyota’s Prius Goes Plural campaign. Toyota created a fake controversy by sparking off a debate over the plural of the word Prius and promoted the campaign on different channels by creating a video, promoting Tweets and opting for target audience outreach on Facebook. This got a lot of people interested in the campaign, who participated in the debate excitedly. Needless to say, there were shares, mentions and increased traffic on their website.
- Do everything real-time and at the right time
Social media platforms let you do everything real-time. This includes interacting with the target audience, providing solutions, publishing a post, replying to queries etc. For instance, you can reach out to your target audience and increase brand awareness through hashtags, mentions and polls.
The caveat: You should know which is the best time to publish your post on various platforms and get maximum interactions from the end-users and make an instant impact on them.
- Stay updated with latest trends
Not all social media platforms are created equal and they keep evolving/changing with time. More often than not, these changes occur at the smallest intervals. Digital PR professionals, therefore, need to stay updated with the latest advancements in social media such as – Instagram’s Boomerang, Facebook’s updated search, Twitter’s Periscope, Facebook’s 360-degree videos, Buyable pins on Pinterest, Rich Pins, LinkedIn’s Long-form posts etc.
Also, there are lesser known social media channels, which have tremendous potentials. Keep a close watch on these platforms and think of ways to use them for leveraging your brand or business.
- Use social videos
Social videos are creating new records.
- Facebook recorded 8 billion daily video views, overtaking YouTube.
- Twitter’s Periscope says its users are watching 40 years of video in a single day.
- Snapchat reports as many as 6 billion daily video views.
Therefore, it comes as no surprise that video is one of the most effective online marketing tools and can be used by businesses to connect with their target audience.
For instance, YouTube star and the founder of the BEME app, Casey Neistat paved the way through which marketers could up their video marketing game.
The app was designed as an alternative to the highly edited content doing rounds on social media. Users can use it to create 1-8 sec videos, which are unedited and can be instantly uploaded and shared with subscribers. The subscribers can send reactions to the videos by sending their photographs to the video uploaders.
Since there are no retakes, do-overs, or deletes on Beme, it provides an interesting take on posting content that has a ‘forever-shelf-life’.
Users look forward to unique features like this on social media.
Calling it a day
Digital PR is going to evolve with the growth of the internet. Therefore, it’s a given that interactive content is here to stay and will become more effective in the years to come and increase engagement with their end-users on social media.
How do you intend to incorporate interactive content in social media for your brand or business as a part of your PR strategy?