By: Sorab Ghaswalla
Heard of the “Whatifi” app? Launched globally a few days ago, Whatifi is a highly unusual and a very interesting smartphone app that, by the way, has raised US $10 million in funds. This “story hacking” app pushes the envelope where interactive content by taking it into a hitherto untested area — movies.
Imagine a group of friends and you getting together to watch a film virtually, i.e. on your respective smartphones? Only this time all of you can choose the ending you all want, or change the plot to your group’s liking.
The app “unlocks the ability to discuss, debate and decide what happens next in the movies” (that) you watch with others. Which means here is an app that offers movie buffs dozens of plot lines, and…. endings!
Now, don’t get confused here because this kind of “gamification” will only be for films especially made by and for Whatifi, and will not allow you to tinker with your average Hollywood blockbuster. Right now, it has two movies playing, and you can choose between 80 endings.
Each Whatifi film is broken down into short segments. At key points, the “watch party” is presented with a dilemma and has to take a decision. And if the group can’t decide unanimously, they can jump into the built-in chat feature to discuss.
So why am I telling you about Whatifi? Because it’s a great example of the unique use of interactive content, and also serves to highlight what I am about to tell you.
The new normal, living and managing a business through a pandemic, has digital marketers in a tizzy today. There’s no rule book for this one, nor experience to fall back on. I would think with the lockdown and work from home becoming the norm, now is a good time as any to use interactive content to engage with your leads or customers.
I shall quickly explain the three different categories of content that a marketer can use: static, dynamic and interactive. Examples of the static type are website pages whose content does not change, e-books, white papers, and so on. Examples of dynamic content are social media feeds, website pages (like news) whose content changes at regular intervals, and emails. On the other hand, interactive content means stuff like virtual reality (VR), immersive web, polls and calculators.
Now is the time to go interactiveInteractive, as the word so tells you, is a two-way street, where your brand opens up a communication channel with audiences, just like the Whatifi app. But get this straight, you need the active participation of your target audience, they are very much a part of it, or else, this tactic will fall flat on its face. You can put out an opinion poll to gauge the pulse of the market, but if nobody responds, well…..
So why the tilt towards interactive content now? Two reasons: the world has slowed down a bit because of COVID-19 and so can spare some more time, and the interplay this form of content allows with your customers can point you in the right direction in relation to your messaging during the pandemic.
One form of interactive content that’s being under-utilized so far is the calculator. These are insurance or mortgage calculators, i.e. what loan amount is a potential customer eligible for, and what is the payable monthly installment? A quick answer by the online calculator, and perhaps you have snagged a customer even with the person having spoken to a representative first.
Opinion polls as an interactive content form remains the most “over-used”. Once upon a time, asking someone their views on a certain matter would make their self-esteem soar. Today, with audiences drowning in all that information, that’s no longer the case. Polls are passé, and unless they are planned and executed well, with the right questions asked, audiences no longer bother with them.
The most exciting entry in interactive content is mixed reality. Though still nascent, MR uses VR and augmented reality to create a world where physical and virtual objects co-exist in real time. Audiences can manipulate the objects in virtual and real environments.
Here’s an example to further simplify this tech: you stand in a showroom that’s selling carpets, wear a headset, then walk on a carpet (or carpets) that physically don’t exist but are virtual objects. Nearby is a real vase. You can move a particular carpet to another spot in the room, even “touch it” with what’s called haptic technology. Or, better still, walk up to the (physical) vase and move it.
Online quizzes, games and competitions remain in the forefront of interactive content. After all, who can resist a challenge, right?
Entertain, educate, inform, observe. That’s how marketers should use interactive content. Personalization is one of its high points; almost everyone feels individually addressed.
But a word of caution: interactive content could also become an unnecessary barrier between your brand and your lead or customer. It should not become a hurdle for them to surmount to get to your brand. To avoid that, ask yourself this before creating anything interactive — what’s the purpose of my content?
Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay