What Motivates Consumers to Engage With Online Content?

September 12, 2016

aol-consumer-motivations-engaging-with-online-content-sept2016Consumers’ motivations for engaging with online content can be boiled down to 8 “content moments,” says AOL in a new study that analyzed more than 55,000 content interactions across 8 global markets. The leading content moment overall is the one termed “Inspire,” referring to consumers’ search for new ideas and desire to try something new.

This was the top moment in 6 of the 8 markets studied: Brazil; Canada; Italy; Japan; the UK; and the US. It’s particularly influential in the fashion and food categories, per the report, with product pages and photo galleries emerging as its leading formats.

The second-most popular motivation was the “Feel Good” moment, which refers to improving one’s mood or feeling relaxed. That registered as the most popular motivation in Spain, while coming in second in Brazil, Japan and the US. Consumers lean on this motivation most in the wedding and family categories, and are most inspired by social media posts and photo galleries.

Close behind, other leading moments include “Update Socially” (stay updated or take a mental break) and “Entertain” (look for an escape or mental break).

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Not surprisingly – and as alluded to above – these motivations for engaging with content differ by category, with each also having a preferred format. The following indicates the top moments in the US by category (with further details here):

  • Autos: Inspire – 26% share;
  • Beauty: Inspire – 51%;
  • Comedy: Connect (learn something new or be part of a community) – 50%;
  • Current events: Be in the know (stay updated or find relevant ideas) – 49%;
  • Dating & relationships: Comfort (seek support or insight) – 20%;
  • Family & parenting: Feel good – 40%;
  • Fashion & style: Inspire – 64%;
  • Finance & business news: Be in the know – 30%;
  • Food: Inspire – 58%;
  • Health & wellness: Find (seek answers or advice) – 43%;
  • Maps or directions: Find – 29%;
  • Personal finance: Find – 21%;
  • Politics: Be in the know – 47%;
  • Science: Connect – 49%;
  • Sports: Update socially – 29%;
  • Technology: Tie between Inspire and Connect – each 27%; and
  • Travel: Inspire – 64%.

These results are often logical (the desire to stay updated with current events, for example), but it’s nonetheless interesting to see that some categories are more heavily skewed towards certain motivations than others. For example, beauty, fashion, food and travel content interactions are very much driven by the search for new ideas and the desire to try something new, whereas engagement with auto, dating, and finance content relies on a greater mix of motivations.

Meanwhile, each content engagement motivation (refer to the above for definitions) has its preferred formats. Within the US, these are:

  • Inspire: Product or service page (21%);
  • Be in the Know: Quick online information (36%), followed by article or blog post (26%);
  • Find: Product or service page (23%);
  • Comfort: Article or blog post (16%);
  • Connect: Long video (18%);
  • Feel Good: Photo gallery or slideshow (15%);
  • Entertain: Short video (25%), with long video next (22%);
  • Update Socially: Social network posts (24%).

These results again reveal that some content motivations are more aligned with certain formats than others. Those looking for an escape or a mental break (“Entertain”), for example, commonly look to videos to do so, while those looking to stay updated or find relevant ideas gravitate towards quick bytes of information or articles and blog posts. By comparison, consumers engaging with content in order to seek support or insight (“Comfort”) are more likely to draw on a mix of content types.

For insights into why B2B executives engage with thought leadership content, see this article. Other research into consumers’ motivations for engaging with and sharing online content can be found in these articles:

About the Data: The AOL research was fielded in these 8 markets: Brazil; Canada; Germany; Italy; Japan; Spain; the UK; and the US.

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