Social Engagement: Making Content Interactive
Last year, I wrote an article, Using Infographics in Social Media to Promote Content and Visualize Data; it discussed taking data and visualizing it in an aesthetic manner to attract more votes, bookmarks, and links from the social media sphere. This year, I want to discuss taking it a step further.
“Engagement objects“, as defined by Bruce Clay, are embeddable digital media assets into a website to get users to engage in the content presented to them. Infographics are considered engaging by Bruce Clay’s definition, since they enhance content and user-experience. While infographics create a good user-experience, they are merely static content. Video and audio are really the dominant players here in trapping user-engagement. When infographics, audio, and video are blended together out comes interactive infographics.
Interactive infographics open up a whole new level of engagement. Social media users love them because they can easily segment and dissect data that they want to see. Often, this is much more preferable for users to have layered data they can select than one overly-large graphic they have to scroll through.
Examples of interactive infographics
An example of a largely successful interactive infographic was from the New York Times: How Different Groups Spend Their Day. In this interactive infographic, you are able to segment people by ethnicity, sex, age, and education. After making your selection, the graph fluctuates in real-time. Here are some further examples as well.
Also, animated infographics are becoming increasingly more popular. This video shows us the hidden cost of war. The engagement level with these yields an increased time-on-page.
Importance of engaging content
Creating engagement with social media users is more important now than ever. I wrote another article last year, The Toolbar Factor: Engagement’s Role in Social Voting, and in that column, I discussed social sites that have created and heavily use toolbars to frame the content linked to from their site. It is my belief that the reason for this is primarily to detect the level of engagement of engagement on that page. A social voting or bookmarking site would want to do this because they are constantly being manipulated with votes and they would need to see if a user is truly engaging in the content or just “blind-voting”.
The more engaging your content is, the more sticky your site becomes. This helps not only from a social media aspect but from a search engine aspect too. As search engines like Google start to detect and monitor user-engagement, the more important it becomes to create sticky pages.
What this means for search and social media marketers
Greg Beddor, a Portland, Oregon based SEO specialist, says he’s even had a lot of client interest in engagement objects on a local small-business level. He states:
“Clients are becoming increasingly more interested in how they can make their content more interactive. They often ask about Flash and Web applications. I’ve shown them a few interactive infographic examples and they’ve fallen in love. Naturally, interactive infographics have been a hot ticket item.”
While interactive infographics are fairly resource and cost heavy, the ROI from them is also heavy. The New York Times example in this article received over 2,000 votes on Digg and over 6,000 links. The traffic, links, ad revenue, and branding from these efforts can be well worth the time and cost invested in creating them.
Measuring social user engagement
Most of the time, the common metrics of success for a social media campaign are traffic amounts and links. Rarely is time spent on page looked at let alone the individual engagement on the page-level. This is something you should try to measure when promoting an interactive infographic. If your budget allows, use robust business intelligence analytical software which will give you detailed insights as to the level of engagement the users are participating. If you want to save money on analytical tools, and you’re using Flash or Flex, you can hard-code ActionScript that will log activity that you choose to monitor.
Some opinions expressed in this article may be those of a guest author and not necessarily Search Engine Land. Staff authors are listed here.
(Some images used under license from Shutterstock.com.)
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