The Future of Influence is Interactive

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Influence isn’t easy. An entire industry of workshops, books, agencies, startups, and services are devoted to helping people or companies become more influential. Individuals, brands, marketers, and business leaders alike are all looking for the golden ticket to stand out as a credible voice worthy of attention. Today’s relatively new reliance on “influencers,” (what has been a shift from celebrity endorsements to a focus on social media influencer marketing), has made the space in which thought leaders build awareness even more crowded. It’s been estimated that most Americans are exposed to between 4,000 and 10,000 brand impressions or messages each day. That’s a pretty staggering figure, and one that begs the question: how can B2B thought leaders establish a platform and compete for ongoing mindshare in such a noisy landscape?

Content marketing plays an important role. After all, an overwhelming majority of B2B audiences (88%) consume business-related content online at least once a week, and 82% have purchased a product or service as a result of content published by that business. Business leaders and companies successful at achieving such results and continued influence are the ones that have become masters at creating insightful, fresh, and regular content. With a strong foundation of content that adds true value, they create a flywheel that drives their leadership forward and builds increasing momentum along the way. But even among those that have done this effectively, the task is becoming increasingly difficult. Good content isn’t born overnight. Results and ROI are hard to prove. Reader behaviors are changing (skimming and reading via mobile devices are on the rise). Impact is flagging for many.  

Amid these obstacles, what’s the future of influence? The short answer is interactive. Ion Interactive defines interactive content as: “Content that engages participants in a two-way dialogue or exchange, often providing utility and usefulness (e.g., interactive infographics; self-assessments or report cards; quizzes; calculators; interactive eBooks; configurators or solution builders; and interactive lookbooks).” Taking that a step further, engaging interactive content is also dynamic, cross-platform, and rich with multimedia.

Strong writing will always be important to grab audiences, but aside from that standard, the rules of influence have changed. Ninety percent of the information transmitted to the brain is visual. Seventy percent of B2B buyers and researchers watch videos throughout their purchase path. A quarter of people ages 18-54 listen to podcasts every month. Businesses can no longer afford to overlook these formats as essential pieces of their content strategy. Copy must be transformed into a rich, visually compelling, and interactive asset that comes alive with imagery, videos, polls, audio clips, and other media. Imagine the impact of a single piece of digital content designed to create a highly interactive experience that offers something for everyone.

Ion reports that 77% of content creators believe in the power of interactive elements to drive repeat visitors and multiple exposures, and 73% agree that interactive content, when combined with other traditional content marketing tactics, enhances message retention. It’s also highly effective at educating buying audiences—93% of Ion’s study participants reported interactive content as somewhat or very effective in this role. Yet less than half are using it today, which presents a significant opportunity.

Achieving sustained influence is multi-faceted and will continually change. Business leaders need to be agile to stay apace. For now, embracing an interactive content strategy is one truly effective way to overcome many current and emerging barriers, and solidify credible and meaningful authority. 

Influence is when you are not the one talking and yet your words fill the room; when you are absent and yet your presence is felt everywhere.” – TemitOpe Ibrahim

William Miller