Involvement + Entertainment? Now that’s what I call…

Over the last decade we have seen the rise of reality TV, YouTube and social media, to the extent that we have reached the point where traditional entertainment and online media cannot do without each other.

This merging has led to interesting experiments, in which online platforms provide valuable content that complements game, existing story lines and performances, and even augments them with entirely new content. Then we have Bjork’s highly acclaimed Biophilia “album,” which is more about exploring the art and the process of making music than just listening to it.

We are now at an interesting crossroad in entertainment. “Infotainment” is passé. In its place, I propose the establishment of INVOTAINMENT.

Here’s a breakdown on where I’m coming from and where I’m going with this:

Entertainment + Involvement:
This is what happens when an audience has direct involvement via web vehicles, where they can share content, discuss events, story lines and characters – either in real time, or, by time-shifting, jumping in later at their own convenience. The more the participant is engaged, the higher the perceived value of the entertainment experience.

Connected, engaged audiences can influence the content they consume

Entertainment + Innovation: This is what happens when audiences have the opportunity to actually co-create activities, stories and character development alongside the content’s producers and writers – more of a crowd-sourced approach, where engaged audiences are party to and/or participate in the creative process.

Content users connect with content producers to define and refine the content

And now the new equation:

Involvement = Research = Innovation: In this scenario, audiences are involved right at the development stage, sharing their thoughts and ideas. Content producers and writers have an opportunity to listen to this feedback and in some cases even guide the discussions. All aspects of an audience’s involvement now become a platform for accountability (measurable media), research (learning what consumers like, prefer, and find most engaging), and creation (engaging, testing, and [collaboratively] refining content).

Through these aspects of creation/innovation, audiences have an added incentive to get involved – very literallly. And content producers, in understanding their audience segments, can quickly determine the paths by which audience feedback travels and spreads, and also identify those key influencers who spread the word most often and with the farthest reach. These are invaluable insight in terms of assessing the content’s potential success.

Beyond entertainment: I believe we are at a critical and very exciting juncture, wherein all content producers need to grasp the concept of InvoTainment regardless of their respective industries. The onus is on every content producer to grasp their content’s invotainment value – the factors that drive audience/customer involvement – and through that interaction and engagement, to then identify where new opportunities for innovation and change can be pursued. And, again, this is about the on-the-ground, real-time dynamics of content in online, traditional media and real-life environments that are all co-existing right now.

In learning and embracing the principles of InvoTainment, organizations can build trust, loyalty and fans – whether the end result is a television show, a podcast, or consumer product. Now, really, what could be more entertaining than that?

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