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Q. What kind of internal communicator are you?

From sandwiches to celebrity cats, 44’s Emily New investigates the current trend of online quizzes – and asks whether the popular digital format could be a way of engaging employees.

I admit it. I’m slightly addicted to doing random online quizzes.

Can you be ‘slightly addicted’? I’m not sure, but I’ve flagged it up to myself as a problem – along with binge-watching Don’t Tell The Bride (occasionally guilty), and eating a whole box of Jaffa Cakes in one sitting (definitely guilty).

For some reason, answering irrelevant quiz questions to find out the answer to another irrelevant question is something that is currently disrupting my online life.

You’ll know the type of quizzes I’m talking about – ones that tackle intense personal issues like ‘Which sandwich are you?’ (cheese and onion), ‘Which celebrity cat are you?’ (keyboard cat) and ‘Which Harry Potter house do you belong in?’ (Ravenclaw – of course).

Over the past few months, I’ve also discovered that my favourite Robert De Niro film is Taxi Driver (no it’s not), I’m 63% ‘posh’ (er, maybe), and the city I SHOULD be living in is Paris.

So is it just me?

1. Yes, it’s just you – go and get some help
2. No, lots of people can’t stop doing pointless online quizzes
3. Is it time for a Jaffa Cake yet?

You guessed it, the answer is number 2. There’s been a continuous increase in the number of online quizzers over the past few years – and it shows no sign of slowing.

Back in 2013, Buzzfeed found a quiz called ‘Which ‘Grease’ Pink Lady are you?’[1] ranked among its most-trafficked posts of the year, and a New Yorker article christened 2014 ‘the year of the quiz’. Now, in 2016, there are whole sites dedicated to online quizzes. It doesn’t matter if you don’t like Grease, Harry Potter, Robert De Niro or sandwiches – there’s a quiz for everyone, about everything.

But why are they so popular?

1. They feed into our social media-obsessed culture and tell us about ourselves
2. They reach out to online audiences, and try to understand them personally
3. All of the above – and more.

This time it’s number 3. Online quizzes get 75% of their overall traffic from social networks[2]. So, these quizzes will more than likely be dominating social media feeds across the country.

The Guardian attributes this popularity to a new, self-interested, social media-obsessed culture, and argues that this phenomenon isn’t surprising given the age-old fascination with that vital question: ‘Who am I?’

It may sound profound/pompous, but just listen to this – the most popular quiz in 2014 was ‘Can we guess your real age?’, and more than five million people worldwide took part[3]. Part of the reason for this was the viral humour that was derived from it – most of the time the answer was 62 regardless of the real age of the quizzer. But the quiz also used a direct call-to-action that was hard to ignore. ‘Can you guess my real age?’ automatically generates a defiant response: ‘I doubt it, but let’s see’.

Other reasons for this crazy quiz popularity:
– They’re quick. We’re all short of time, and these 30-second quizzes appeal to the online nature of skimming and jumping between content.
– They suggest that we’re important enough to get to know. Through quizzes and analytics – along with nostalgic, generational and relevant posts – Buzzfeed and other such sites try to reach us personally and appear to have a good understanding of who we are.
– They don’t take themselves too seriously and can be instantaneously shared with friends. People are online in their own time to have fun and want an immediate antidote to their real-life existence (celebrity cats – I rest my case).

Feeling quizzical about internal comms

More formal questionnaires such as employee surveys already do the rounds in employee engagement strategies. They’re a great way to gather employee feedback and are often carried out annually and on a company-wide level.

However, as employee apps and social platforms such as Yammer are increasingly being seen as viable internal channels, perhaps fun, bitesize quizzes could play a bigger role in employee engagement. They could serve as a way to demonstrate that employees are being understood and listened to, using topics which are important to them. They could encourage interactivity and engagement, and could also be a quick way to gain employee feedback.

It’s true that regular online content might not always be quality content. Nevertheless, as technology continues to change the way we interact – and as these online quizzes keep generating high levels of engagement and interaction – could there be more of an opportunity to harness the power of the digital quiz in internal comms?

I’ll leave it to you to answer that one…





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