Why Immersive Elements Matter More Than Ever Right Now

Communicating with engaging visuals and interactive elements is easier than you might expect—and it could offer a stimulating alternative for members who find virtual events frustrating.

By Melissa Bouma

The good news about content marketing is that its value is no longer in question: It isn’t a battle you have to fight with your board anymore—it’s an expectation.

There’s just one problem. Since targeted content creation is easier to get through the pipeline than it once was, it comes with a lot more competition. And that competition might not just be from other organizations like yours, but from outlets like the mainstream news. You could be competing against celebrity news for mindshare without even realizing it!

So, if your goal is to reach your association’s intended audience, text alone will likely not be enough. For one, it’s a lot to digest, whether it’s 300 or 1,500 words. It is also being created from all corners of the internet by competitors and colleagues alike, so it’s hard to make it stand out.

Of course, the written word still has a lot of power, but it can’t be the only way to build engaging content. We live in a world where people spend 15 seconds on an average article, but will spend an average of 24 hours a month using TikTok and nearly 23 hours watching YouTube videos. What does this tell us? Immersive content has taken an increased hold of your audience. Below, the hows and whys of going immersive with your content.

4 Simple Ways to Build Immersive Content

Certainly the phrase “immersive” might have you thinking about big-ticket items like augmented reality or virtual reality. Perhaps they are even stretch goals for your association to budget for in the future. Regardless, you can still create gripping content that takes your organization’s message to the next level without breaking the bank. Consider the following:

  • Build around data points. Associations are often primary resources for information about their given industries, which can generate effective storytelling hooks that can be leveraged into interactive infographics, social shareables, and hooks for more traditional storytelling. Data makes great fodder for engaging content, and it can catch the eyes of your readers both in their feed and in their inbox.
  • Play into visual elements. We live and interact in increasingly visual mediums, and your content has to match the times, or it will be in danger of getting overlooked online. Effective video projects like CDW’s Feds in the Field series are proof that great storytelling and smart visuals combine into a stronger whole. In short, give people something that wows them while still plugging into your overall messaging.
  • Build around interactivity. Creating quizzes or crowdsourcing-driven content is a great way to leverage some of the energy surrounding a big story in your space. Consider how Google hid an interactive multiplayer online game on its primary search term for the World Cup. It’s all about taking advantage of momentum.
  • And don’t forget audio. Audio-based content is an effective way to stand out as you present content to others—and it can even integrate with your visual elements into a multi-sensory package.

How Your Immersive Content Can Augment Your Event Strategy

For many reasons, associations’ business models are tied to their existing events, which can generate a lot of revenue for the organization. But current consumption models may not match what your audience is into now, or how they interact with information.

Therefore, in addition to putting on a big virtual, hybrid, or in-person event (and, of course, relying on content to help drive interest in the event), it might be a good idea to create a content hub as an alternative for audiences who consume information better without the involvement of webcams. And don’t forget that virtual events and immersive content can work together.

And let’s be clear: While content is often at the center of a sophisticated funnel-style model, what you create does not always need to be in service of trying to drive some sales strategy.

Maybe the content is good enough that people are willing to pay for it, no extra steps needed. Maybe the interactive elements you create help communicate the true value of your industry to the public, like the Paper and Packaging Board, a Manifest client, does on its site How Life Unfolds.

Whatever the case may be, it all starts with creativity. It only takes a little bit of it to successfully engage your audience for more than 15 seconds at a time.

Melissa Bouma, CEO of Manifest, has more than 16 years of experience building insight-driven branding and content strategy, with a client base representing large companies, major universities, and prominent associations.

(Tara Moore/Stone)