Buzzfeed can lay claim to popularising a number of content forms, but none have proved to be quite as pervasive in recent times as the interactive quiz. Normally irreverent and rooted firmly in pop culture, Buzzfeed quizzes are not enlightening, but they are incredibly widespread. It’s likely you’ve taken part in one. It’s more than likely you know exactly which Taylor Swift single you are.

As with most Buzzfeed content, it was a very clever trick to begin with but it’s quickly become tired and formulaic. Part of this is down to the fact that – seeing just how effective and popular it was – creating interactive quizzes is something that was quickly picked up and replicated by publishers across the net.

But if it works – and it still does – then why stop doing it? Coming into 2016, interactive quizzes remain a firm part of the online content landscape. They’re also a small part of a big content trend this year: interactive content. As a content producer or marketer it’s something that you should know about and be using.

Why should I be using interactive content?

There are strong reasons for the rise of interactive content. Importantly, it promotes engagement. In a hectic online environment, asking readers to stop and take part in your content is something that stands out.

Research commissioned by ion interactive, a marketing apps platform, found that interactive content such as apps, assessments, calculators and quizzes generated conversions “moderately or very well” 70% of the time, compared to 36% for passive content.

A report from publishing platform Playbuzz and branding and design company Impact found that 88% of marketers say interactive content is effective at helping their brand stand out from the crowd. Interestingly, they also found that there’s a geographic split in terms of the types of interactive content audiences want. In North America, readers are most drawn to personality quizzes, while in the UK people prefer trivia.

But interactive content isn’t just about quizzes. Yes, they’re very effective tools for getting across your message and for promoting engagement. But, there’s more to interactive content.

Interactive whitepapers

It’s no secret that whitepapers are incredibly effective tools for getting across an important message in an effective way. But in an online environment where audiences expect to be wowed, wading through a 20-page PDF isn’t something many people still want to do.

An interactive white paper on the other hand, is a different story. It takes a slightly different approach to long form content and repackages it in a way that makes it truly engaging. The core messages remain intact, but where there would be pages and pages of stats and info, an interactive whitepaper could include a quiz or a survey, which lets readers educate themselves while they read.

The benefits are two-fold in that you get a reader who is engaged and getting to the heart of your message, while for readers, they get content that they feel is valuable.

Interactive infographics

Infographics are well-trodden ground when it comes to online content. But in an environment where you’re used to interacting with everything, static infographics are fast becoming archaic.

Interactive infographics aren’t a case of reinventing the wheel. Rather, it’s a case of enhancing them, by adding in buttons, ‘click to reveal more’ sections and even animated elements, it encourages readers to take part in their content experience.

Creating interactive content such as infographics is becoming easier than you think, too. There are a number of tools out there that make the process of creating interactive content a straightforward process. Ceros is a tool that allows marketers and brands to create dynamic, interactive content easily.

Interactive videos

Adding an interactive element to your video takes the same approach – it adds a new element to already dynamic content that asks audiences to remain alert, engaged and active.

For example, you might have a video that includes a ‘click here to find out more’ CTA that urges viewers to find out more about a specific subject. Or a ‘choose your own adventure’-style video that tells a slightly different story depending on the actions of your user.

360-degree videos are a new format that is taking interactivity a step further. You only need to watch a recent example (such as David Attenborough walking us through a prehistoric landscape) to see just how exciting a tool interactivity can be.

The methods are vast, but the end result is always the same: you get an audience who is invested in the content they are consuming. That’s not something that audiences forget quickly.

Where to next?

Interactive content is a broad term and one that will evolve and grow to mean a lot more than it does today. Virtual reality will be the long term goal – where people are fully immersed in virtual worlds. But before we get there, readers want to play and engage with the content at their fingertips at the moment.

It’s already being picked up by the biggest and most reputable publishers out there. Newspapers and magazines like The Guardian the New York Times (see examples of their storytelling here) are already factoring interactivity into the way they tell their stories, showing that it’s not something that will stop storytelling, but it is something that can enhance it.