12 Alternative Forms of Online Content for Brands

April 28, 2016

Ok, so you’ve written a blog post. You’ve written a lot of blog posts for your brand actually, but your audience aren’t really engaging to the extent you would like them to. Great quality content that people want to read and want to share can do wonders for your business, from online word of mouth to SEO benefits. So do your readers (and yourself) a favour and try using some of these alternative forms of online content on your website.

1. The Long Read

In the age of the internet, the advice is to always go short and sweet. Attention spans are small, web users jump around a lot, skim read, and click the back button a lot. Yes, all these things are true but there is still a place for the Long Read with a large potential audience. However, make sure your reader knows what they should be expecting. You don’t want to see your top comment as “TL;DR” (Too Long; Didn’t Read).

2. Listicle

Popularised by Buzzfeed, the listicle has become one of the most popular forms of content used by editorial online publishers and brands alike. In fact, I guess that’s what you would call this piece of content? Although they can be mocked (and they’ve certainly been done) spacing out an online article into “bite-size” numbered points makes it easier for the reader to consume and more memorable.

3. Quiz

We’re not talking General Knowledge here. Quizzes work best when they tell the person something about themselves as it encourages them to share it with friends and fans on their social media accounts. Think ‘Can you name more capital cities than [a ten year old / Beyoncé / the prime minister]?’ or Which [Sex in the City / Powerpuff girl / remaining member of 1Direction] are you?’

Advertisers like galleries which refresh the web page in between image so that their website’s overall page views increases. That’s the cycnical part, but users also like them! A pictures tells a thousand words and is a lot quicker and easier to consume for an online reader than a long article. A short and sweet caption under each of them and you’re away. Just don’t forget to credit images if you don’t own them (and check if you can use them in the first place) otherwise you could get into trouble.

5. Video

Making video is really accessible now for brands of all sizes, you can even make brand videos for social media on your smart phone as the slightly less polished, lo-fi look has been so normalised. The best brands out there aren’t just recycling their TV adverts, they’re considering the medium (Instagram, Vine, Facebook, Twitter YouTube, Vimeo) and tailoring bespoke creative to each.

6. Live video

You could write a blog post about your brand event last night. You could do an interview with a brand spokesperson. Or you could use live video. Periscope is perfect for brands who are more Twitter-orientated, but if you’ve already got a large and engaged Facebook fandom then use their native live video player. Check out ZSL London Zoo’s Periscope channel through Twitter for live animal feeds, talks and Q&As if you want to see it done well. Makes you want to pay a visit to the zoo doesn’t it?

7. Infographic

An infographic takes data or information and visualises it in a static (or sometimes dynamic) graphic. There’s loads of great infographics out there, and although the format can be seen as tired by some ,when done well it’s still a really engaging and valuable form of content.

Think first about whether the information you want to communicate would suit this format (ideally it should be factual and not subjective information, contain some form of data, and the content shouldn’t be too topical or go out of date quickly) and always make sure to credit sources as part of the graphic.

8. Interactive map

Interactive maps can visualise complex data and information. They can plot information geographically, showing changes over time, and allow the user to filter and divide the data themselves. We love interactive maps and we’re not alone. Check out our blog about Seven Times Interactive Maps Made the News for examples of how interactive maps can help get your brand online media coverage and back-links as well.

9. Interactive timeline

Celebrating 100 years of your organisation? Want to show the history of something or how something has changed over time? An interactive timeline is a way for your online readers to be active rather than passive while learning and exploring a large piece of your content. Check out this simple interactive timeline we made about the past, present and future of dating.

10. Online game

Gamification is the big word of the moment – can you gamify your product to make it more appealing and easy to use? There’s nothing more gamified than a game itself. Simple, beautiful, complex or educational, games are a great way to communicate information or add positive association with your brand, while generating social traffic and increasing dwell time on your website. Keep the branding minimal and allow users to compete with their friends through social media to encourage virality.

11. User-generated content dashboard

The real advantage of this kind of content is that without you lifting a finger there’s always fresh, relevant and timely content being updated on your website. For some sites this is as simple as a page which displays your latest TripAdvisor reviews, but you can also pull in discussion around a particular topic via a hashtag or filter images with a particular geotag. Or like Vanish’s Tip Exchange, allow users to post and answer each other’s questions.

12. Live data visualisation

Using your own data or with public APIs, you can analyse and display visualisaed information which is constantly evolving and updating itself. Check out this one we made for online dating site eHarmony which explores the UK’s relationship with love by analysing live tweets containing the word.

*Think your website or campaign could be even more amazing with bespoke interactive content? Get in touch on hello@octophin.com.