As an enthusiastic proponent of interactive content — and, admittedly, I am biased — I was fascinated to see Twitter release an interactive content feature into its service last month. You can now add a 2-answer poll to any tweet of yours, and for the next 24 hours, people can place their votes.
Okay, given its tiny footprint, perhaps we should call this interactive micro-content?
This is a terrific example of what I would call a new “mechanism” for marketers. As I’ve shared before in the model below, I believe that marketing as communications has largely focused on the interplay between messages (what is said) and media (where and how it appears).
But as we move into the age of marketing as experiences with growing functional capabilities on websites, mobile apps, and soon enough every “smart” device in your life, marketing has a whole new axis by which to craft a company’s engagement with its audience: mechanisms (what it does and how it behaves). This opens up a whole new dimension for marketing creativity.
This Twitter poll feature is a perfect example of a new mechanism. It’s super simple. But it gives marketers a new “tool” in their creative toolbox for engaging people in a social media channel. The right question can intrigue people — or even stir them up on a topic that they care enough about to want to share their opinion.
Getting that extra moment of mindshare is valuable. But having respondents invested in their answers and the outcome — even if it’s just a sliver of investment (micro-investment in micro-content?) — is even more valuable.
And the right questions can clearly contribute to a brand’s messaging and positioning.
It will be interesting to see how marketers creatively use this new mechanism. Of course, it can be over-used or poorly used — and almost certainly will be. But I’ll bet that many marketers will find clever ways to leverage this, and I wouldn’t be surprised if one of them became the next “You can still dunk in the dark” moments.
The other aspect of this new Twitter feature that intrigued me is that it seems like another example — albeit a very small one — of features moving from the “marketing software” layer of the digital marketing channel into the “web services” layer:
This is vertical competition — two different stages of the channel fight to capture value. Polls used to be something that you had to have in your marketing software. Survey Monkey would be one example. Actually, a whole bunch of the vendors in the Interactive Content category of my marketing technology landscape are examples of companies that offer poll features.
Granted, most of those marketing software vendors offer way more than this simple poll feature. But “great storms announce themselves with a simple breeze” (bonus points to any reader who knows where that quote came from without Googling it). Google Analytics is a much stronger wind in the analytics space. LinkedIn is a much stronger wind in account-based marketing.
My bet is that we’re going to see a whole lot more vertical competition between marketing software vendors and web service giants in 2016.
Can that officially count as my first real prediction for next year?
P.S. I apologize — I couldn’t resist a little snark in my demo poll, but the credibility of statistics in studies used for content marketing is one of my pet peeves: