Online Quizzes: Recreational and Informative

Online quizzes, like this one from  AARP , are all the rage because they are an entertaining form of customer engagement. But of course, they also can be engagingly informative.

Online quizzes, like this one from AARP, are all the rage because they are an entertaining form of customer engagement. But of course, they also can be engagingly informative.

People shrink from responding to phone surveys, but they trip over themselves to participate in online questionnaires, like BuzzFeed’s personality quizzes

While public opinion pollsters have to make more calls to achieve a representative sample on a phone survey, people eagerly take online quizzes on anything and everything from personality types and careers to celebrities, dog breeds and sex. As changes in the marketplace are complicating traditional polling methods, maybe now is the time to consider the potential of online quizzes as an alternative.

Yes, the two have some big differences. Where public opinion polls dig for people’s views, online quizzes often only offer a chance for a few minutes of pleasurable escape. Public opinion polls, of course, are intended to produce findings. Online quizzes, on the other hand, are about fun and engagement, not hard numbers.

So yes, online quizzes may not generate “data” in the truest sense. However, they do reflect popular themes and gratify people’s narcissistic obsessions, especially those of the “me” generation. Why do people love me? What career should I pursue? Which superhero do I resemble? Who am I really?

Online quizzes aren’t just for the kids, though. AARP posts trivia games and online quizzes about entertainment, leisure, money management and dementia symptoms. In its effort to protect against elder financial abuse, AARP created “Catch the con quiz” featuring Frank Abagnale, Jr., whose story of outsmarting victims and the FBI was told in the Steven Spielberg movie Catch Me If You Can.

Ultimately, quizzes are just a cheaper version of contests to stimulate interaction. There usually aren’t any prizes or judges involved – people judge for themselves. But if a brand can glean tidbits of information about people from their quiz answers, it is engagement with a purpose.

In some cases, online quizzes can have an educational value. Participants can discover some unknown facts about subjects that interest them. And they can learn what they don’t know.

BuzzFeed is one of the leading practitioners of online quizzes. The site posts just about any kind of personality quiz imaginable, with fetching headlines that resemble a call to action. Data indicates BuzzFeed’s quizzes have drawn millions more page views than the company’s other content. 

The bottom line is that as polling faces participation challenges, online quizzes are enjoying unprecedented popularity, and they can help turn your electronic platform into a game board. While many topics are mostly for just fun, online quizzes can be a gentle introduction to more serious topics.

Online quizzes are more recreation than research, but that doesn’t diminish their value as an outreach tool that gets people talking.

The Primordial Power of Storytelling

Since we learned to draw on cave walls, mankind has been telling stories. Now a Seattle senior center is demonstrating how storytelling can be a successful communications tool for dementia patients — and perhaps proving the technique's worth in reaching any distracted or disinterested audience.

Elderly persons suffering from dementia lose their memory. That lack of memory can generate deep frustration in trying to communicate with loved ones they don't recognize.

In Seattle, storytelling is treated like therapy, according to a piece aired by NPR. Patients are shown interesting photographs and asked to compose a story about the life of the person in the picture. Since these aren't personal pictures, patients don't need to struggle to recall faces, names or places. They just make up the stories, which creates a form of release. Patients can communicate without the burden of a failing memory.

The Notebook, a highly regarded romance movie released in 2004, centers around an elderly man (James Garner) reading a passionate love story to an elderly woman with dementia (Gena Rowlands). The story captivates Rowlands' character, but it isn't until toward the end of the movie that you realize the love story is about these two characters when they were young. The story's happy ending jogs a burst of memory in Rowlands' character, and she recognizes Garner as her lifelong love. Their embrace is sadly fleeting, but deeply revealing.

Whether storytelling can actually revive memory in dementia patients is debatable, but there is no doubt storytelling can spark interest in all kinds of people and all kinds of subjects.