Virtually everyone talks about the need for companies to produce content that engages their audience. Some common tactics are to ask a question, take a strong position on an issue, or just make the content easy to share via social media. However, few actually take the step of making the audience a key part of the content creation itself. Starting a conversation, and then asking the audience to actively participate will result in a higher level of engagement. The audience will be more involved and invested in the content. The content itself will continue to grow and improve.
A good example of this strategy is from Fast Company. It recently put together a virtual panel on the subject of branded content. As you would expect of a media company, it assembled some of the most innovative thinkers on the topic from some very well known companies. Here’s how it introduced the story:
Welcome to our first interactive story experiment. Up for discussion: brand content. Joining the discussion: Red Bull, GE, American Express, some of the agency and social media players leading brand content efforts and (we hope) you.
While the story started with just a few questions, it has continued to grow based on both reader and expert contributions. It is now several times as long as the original post, and it also much more valuable.
I recommend the article to anyone interested in brand content or content marketing. It’s also worth keeping an eye on Fast Company. I think it is one of the most innovative media companies when it comes to both print and online publishing. In addition to the interactive story experiment, its online strategy goes beyond building content under their magazine brand. They have greatly enhanced and segmented their online efforts along major subject areas. The content now exists on more narrowly focused websites: Co.Design, Co.Create, Co.Exist, and (soon) Co.Lead.