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Ban Boring Content: How to Increase Engagement Using Multimedia Content

Increase engagement by banning boring content

The average American spends 24 hours a week online, according to a recent study by USC Annenberg. That means most of us currently spend approximately 1/7 of our life surfing the internet. (Many people, like me and probably you, spend far more time online than the average person.)

What do we do on the internet? We read about politics, we write informative articles about marketing, we post photos from a friend’s wedding, we raise money for causes we care about, we express our outrage at the current political climate, and the list goes on.

All those actions boil down to one thing – content.

We spend, on average, 24 hours a week creating and consuming content in a multitude of formats. Videos, photos, GIFs, graphs, PDFs, charts, lists, screenshots, and so many others.

Over the years, the type of content we consume has evolved. Yet when many marketers talk about producing content or creating a content calendar, they are only referring to words.

Yet, content is so much more than just words. Here is how you can create more of the multimedia content we all love to consume and why you should be doing it.

What is Multimedia Content?

First, the basics. What is multimedia content?

Multimedia content is content that uses multiple mediums to communicate thoughts or ideas. For example, if you write a blog post and include an image, that is multimedia content at its very core.  

However, if you think slapping a stock photo on your latest blog post is good enough, you are missing the point. Multimedia content can and should be so much more.

Types of Multimedia Content

Multimedia content can be used to highlight interesting data, make a how-to process easier to understand, or visually show off a new product.

Multimedia content includes:

  • Video
  • Audio
  • Animations
  • Images
  • Infographics
  • Charts
  • Graphs
  • Screenshots
  • GIFs
  • Lists

What Are The Benefits of Multimedia Content?

(AKA: Come On, Do I Really Need All This Multimedia Stuff?)

If you are already overwhelmed with the thought of publishing a weekly blog post, then stop reading now. It is so much more important to focus on publishing high-quality, useful content on a regular basis first.

Do your keyword research, find out what type of content your audience needs, and fill that gap. Add a few good photos and a video if it makes sense. But first, focus on producing good content regularly.

Adding multimedia to your content is bells and whistles. If you don’t have the basics of good content down, this isn’t where you need to focus your energy.

However, if you are publishing well written, in-depth content on a regular basis and not seeing the traffic you were hoping for, it is time to do more. Including multimedia content is one way to do that.

According to Google, nearly 200 factors are considered when deciding who gets that coveted No. 1 spot in the search results. These factors include (among others) content length, having a linked table of contents, domain age, how recent the content was published, how many times the page was updated, and on and on.

But the top three ranking factors? Google has been quite clear on those:

The top three ranking factors, according to Google, are:

  1. Content
  2. Links
  3. Rank Brain

(Though not necessarily in that order.)

Content matters. Writing better content matters. Adding engaging elements, such as video, audio files, graphs, and charts matters. Here is how to do it.

Ditch The Stock Photos – Include Better Images

There is no question that content with images ranks better. Sure, you could use one of the dozens of free stock photo sites to throw in a few mediocre photos used by dozens of other sites in your industry. Or, you could crank your photo game up a bit.

Add unique, useful images instead of just slapping a standard stock photo and calling it a day.

Here are a few ideas for including better photos in your content.

  1. Add screen shots: These are particularly useful in step-by-step or how-to guides. You can show the reader precisely what to do. Use a tool like Skitch to mark up those screenshots to make them even easier to understand. Skitch can be used to create better images
  2. Create your own graphics using a tool like Snappa that offers easy-to-customize templates. Snappa can help you create better images
  3. Take your own photos. Got a smartphone? That is all you need. Why use boring stock photos when you can take your own photos?
  4. Crop and edit standard stock photos to make them your own. Just make sure their copyright allows them to be edited. This took just a few clicks to make in Snappa. Original photo is here

Use a tool to crop and edit stock photos to create better images.

As you can see, adding better images doesn’t require a ton of time or money. In fact, all the examples above were free, except the last one because I have a paid Snappa account.

P.S. Don’t forget to optimize your photos for SEO.

Add More Video Content

As of 2017, 78 percent of people reported they watch videos online every week, and 55 percent said they watch videos online every day.

In 2016, Nicola Mendelsohn, Facebook’s VP of European, Middle Eastern, and African operations, said that in five years, Facebook “will be probably all video.”  

If you haven’t added video to your content marketing plan, you are already behind the curve.

Keep in mind that you don’t need thousand-dollar lighting or expensive software to add more videos to your content. There are several ways to record video without spending a dime.  

Use Your Smartphone

With today’s technology, you don’t need a fancy camera. A reasonably new smartphone will do the trick. For best results, I do suggest getting a phone tripod to keep the phone steady. Use an app like Magisto or Splice (both have free versions) to edit, upload to YouTube, and then you can easily embed it in blog posts or share on social.

Use a Conference Call Tool

Conference call tools like Zoom allow you to record a screen share or your camera. Their free version gives you up to 45 minutes and you can invite up to three guests. Upload to YouTube and leverage their search engine to get more views.

This is a great option for showing how processes work. For example, I have used it to show how to pull a specific report from Google Analytics.

Go Live on Facebook

All you need is a laptop or a smartphone to go live. Once your broadcast is over, you can save, share, and even embed your video to repurpose the content. Pro tip: If you are worried about going live from your business account, you can test it in a Facebook group first. This allows you to limit who can see your broadcast.

Video Topic Ideas

  • Introduce your team
  • Interview an expert in your industry
  • Do a walkthrough of how your SaaS tool works
  • Share testimonial from happy customers
  • Share a behind-the-scenes look into your office or process
  • Review products (think: unboxing videos)
  • Covering a blog topic in more depth
  • Answer frequently asked questions

Add Tables & Charts

If you have spent anytime on Google in the last few years, you’ve noticed Google answer boxes. Google answer boxes show up in “position zero” in response to certain queries and provide an answer without requiring you to click through to a website.

Most of the time, answer boxes show up to answer questions that need no elaboration: what time is it, how big is Central Park, who won the Cubs game, and so forth.

For example:

An example of a Google Answer Box

There is also Google answer boxes’ cousin, “People also ask,” where you can click on the carrot to see the answer to questions related to your query.

Google's People Also ask gives answers to frequently asked questions.

Google swears these boxes are for user experience. Marketers have a love-hate relationship with Google answer box, as it can result in lower traffic for some queries. However, there are definite benefits to having your site in the Google answer box.

Sure, you might get less traffic if the answer is provided right away, but you definitely won’t get traffic if you are buried below the answer box, ads, and two other search results.

As an example, here is the what appears above the fold for a search about permalinks.

When Google shows an Answer box, other resources get pushed below the fold

Way down there at the bottom is what would be the first search result. Clearly, getting the answer box is a better option, even if you don’t get as many clicks as you might have pre-answer box.

So, how do you get into Google’s answer box? To start, well designed-tables have a better chance of showing up in that Google answer box.

For example:

An example of ESPN.com in a Google Answer Box table

As do lists:

Lists are also shown as Google Answer boxes in position zero

(Interestingly, I find lists are more often displayed on mobile.)

When it makes sense for your content, display data in a list or table. There are multiple benefits. First, a list or table is user-friendly, which means you are creating content people want to read and are more likely to share. Plus, they give you a little boost in the search results.

Remember, this is about making good content great, so these little boosts matter.

Although the post is a few years old, this article on business2community is a good resource for how to create tables Google will like.

Display Data Using Graphs and Charts

Graphs and charts are simple ways to quickly increase engagement with your content. They make your content more interesting and make it easier for more visual people to quickly consume the information.

Tools to Create Graphs and Charts

Canva offers dozens of options to create graphs, charts, process flow documents, and more. The templates are easy to edit so you can add your data, a logo, and brand colors.

You can use Canva to create graphs and charts

You can also use Google Sheets to create line charts, bar graphs, pie charts, and many other types of tables.

Create graphs and charts with Google Sheets

Easel.ly and Infogram are two other programs for creating graphs or charts. Both offer at least free trials.

Get Started: 10 Multimedia Content Ideas for Inspiration

Above, I presented several tools and types of content you can use to get started adding more multimedia elements to your content. Because every business is different, I also want to provide some very specific examples you can tweak for your business.

Whether you are a SaaS company or sell a physical product, you will find an idea that will work for you.

  1. If you have a podcast, embed related podcast episodes into blog posts.
  2. Write a blog post around a topic that came up in a Facebook live event and embed the video.
  3. After you’ve given a presentation, write a more in-depth post and embed the slides in your post.
  4. Create a list of 10 inspirational ideas to get your audience to take action. (See what I did there…)
  5. Do a survey on Twitter, then write a post about the results. Embed the tweet or create a graph of the results.
  6. Use Zoom to make a step-by-step video documenting a process, like pulling a specific report.
  7. Interview an industry expert on Facebook live, then transcribe the interview and publish as a blog post with the video embedded. (You could do the same with a podcast interview.)
  8. Writing a review of a product? Add a table comparing the best features to a competitor. Think WordPress/Squarespace or Apple Watch/Fitbit.
  9. Use Google forms to do a survey of your audience. You could do market research or do more of a “state of the industry” report. Publish the results with charts and graphs. As an added bonus, you could earn links by doing research about your industry.
  10. Launching a new product? Do a Facebook live or record a video with your phone showing off all the features. (A phone tripod is the way to go if you are doing this alone.)

If you want to increase engagement, improve time on page, reduce bounce rates, and turn your “pretty good” content “really great” content, adding multimedia elements is the way to go. Now is the time to stop publishing boring content.

About the author

Danielle Antosz

Danielle is a Chicago-based content marketer and writer who enjoys long walks through Ikea, defending the necessity of the Oxford comma, and drinking coffee with more cream and sugar than is strictly necessary.