Let's get quizzical

Gen X and the millennials are undoubtedly an introspective lot. We’re hungry for information on what makes us tick, how to have fulfilling careers, how we can find happiness, what traits will help us find success in life and, of course, which Friends character we most resemble.

What’s behind the quizzing phenomenon that makes it so successful? Speaking to the Huffington Post, US based psychologist Robert Simmermom said it’s down to ‘narrative psychology’. “It goes into our own ongoing developing narrative and it gives some credence of ourselves as heroes of our own story.”

The shareable element is key. Psychologist Steven Meyers at Roosevelt University, Chicago says in the same article, “I think a lot of people are really wondering, ‘What do other people think of me?'” Meyers says. “And this is a really innocent and non-threatening way of finding out.”

To put it simply, we like to define ourselves and then to get feedback from our friends on what they think of our results before they themselves go on to share their own. The findings from such quizzes are generally positive, meaning we’ll want to share them. Any successful quiz should flatter the user in some way, or provide a fun insight. Let’s face it, who’d want to share negative comments on themselves?

Buzzfeed’s been a clear pioneer of the quiz format. Content teams there know that putting identity at the heart of the editorial strategy equates to high levels of audience engagement. The publisher is maturing in interesting ways. It’s growing its harder news and current affairs offering that will only expand in strength and volume. Personally, I’m looking forward to seeing the new direction take shape. But it’ll be a long, long time before we see the much loved quiz format die a death on the site. If ever.

The quiz format for brands

The Buzzfeed example is a purely editorial one but what about the quiz format as used by brands? What can a quiz achieve for a brand and can it really be seen as a brand-building exercise as part of the PESO model?

Our client, Goodyear, conducted a study with the London School of Economics into the various different types of driving personalities. Heavyweight research with shareable findings. But the media is pickier than ever about what they’ll publish and any comms professional worth their salt knows that it takes more than a straight forward news release to secure coverage that delivers genuinely worthwhile exposure and, crucially these days, engagement.

We worked with PlayBuzz to take the academic findings and turn the whole lot into highly engaging, identity-defining fun. The quiz, designed to throw out sharable answers, was taken 160,000 times as the story went live. Eight national and international online news outlets published the branded content – most likely due to the fact that it had some real academic clout behind it and that its potential popularity would result in more page impressions for them due to the high social ‘shareability’ factor. TV anchors on Fox News in the US took the test and ran a programme segment involving one of the presenters displaying his rather tetchy driving traits.

Let’s take a look at that from the top of the marketing funnel. Awareness generated en-masse? Check. Brand messaging included? Check. Let’s move down the funnel slightly. Conversions to the Goodyear website achieved? Check.  

All in all, that’s a good looking piece of earned, paid and shared content that’s out-performed expectation.

Before you go, do you want to find out what your driving personality is? Take the quiz here.

BlogColin Cather