Create Engaging Content with These Practical Tips

There’s pretty much no limit to the kinds of things you can put on digital signs. There are incredible opportunities to entertain, inform and, most importantly, connect with your audience, no matter who they are. And, with modern digital signage data-integration tools, the number of things you can show has exploded.

Here’s a list of 78 things you might consider putting on your digital signage. And this is by no means a comprehensive list:

  1. Alerts
  2. Announcements
  3. App download of the week
  4. Books recommended by employees
  5. Books that are useful for professional development
  6. Brand and marketing information
  7. Cafeteria menu
  8. Certification or accreditation opportunities
  9. Community news and events
  10. Company contests and giveaways
  11. Company financial performance
  12. Company milestones
  13. Company newsletter content
  14. Data visualizations
  15. Date and time
  16. DEI initiatives
  17. Department information, staff lists and bios
  18. Department photos
  19. Directories (employees, departments, events, donors, alumni, etc.)
  20. Employee awards and accolades
  21. Employee bios
  22. Employee birthdays
  23. Employee’s favorite movies, TV shows, books, music
  24. Employee spotlights for new hires, interns and trainees
  25. Entertainment news
  26. Event schedules
  27. Energy consumption goals and statistics
  28. FAQs
  29. Fitness tips
  30. Foreign language lessons
  31. Health and wellness tips
  32. Healthy eating tips
  33. History of the company
  34. Important contact info
  35. In-office schedules for hybrid workplaces
  36. Injury advice and instructions
  37. Inspirational quotes
  38. Internships and scholarships
  39. KPIs and progress to goals
  40. Local movie/theater schedules
  41. Local attractions (sporting events, hiking trails, theater productions, etc.)
  42. Local services ads (dog walking, childcare, dry cleaning, etc.)
  43. Loyalty programs
  44. Meeting room schedules
  45. Menu boards
  46. News feeds
  47. News from other company branches
  48. Open positions within the company
  49. Out-of-office listings
  50. Photos from company events, like the holiday party or a fun run
  51. Photos of employees with their families or pets
  52. Places near the office to go after work (happy hour, etc.)
  53. Polls and surveys
  54. Product promotions
  55. Productivity tips
  56. Professional blog recommendations
  57. Professional development opportunities
  58. Progress towards goals (KPIs, etc.)
  59. Queuing info and wait times
  60. Recipe of the week (could be from employees)
  61. Recognition, kudos and other feedback
  62. RSS feeds
  63. Safety tips and milestones
  64. Shuttle mapping
  65. Social media feeds
  66. Sports scores
  67. Stock market info
  68. Student spotlights
  69. Tech tips
  70. Traffic and transportation information
  71. Training opportunities and tips
  72. Travel destination of the week
  73. Trivia questions
  74. Vacation schedules
  75. Videos and animations
  76. Visitor welcome messages
  77. Wayfinding
  78. Weather forecasts

Some messages are straightforward, sharing essential company updates. But the real magic lies in engaging content that has nothing to do with work. These captivating tidbits lure your audience back to the screens again and again. You’re vying for their attention against smartphones and busy schedules. The goal? Entice them to pause and check out your amazing content, ensuring they also absorb crucial information along the way.

Be Beautiful

If your content doesn’t look stunning, it won’t grab attention. Without that, engagement is impossible. Master digital design essentials like color, contrast and sizing. Unsure where to start? Plenty of online resources can guide you. Apply these principles across every element of your digital signs – screen layout, messages, text and images, news feeds – even the screen’s environment matters.

Images attract more than text, and motion captures even more attention. Short video clips and slick message transitions are sure to make people at least glance at the screens. Try to get the design and imagery to help support the content of the message, and not be a distraction.

Of course, your images must be of the highest quality possible. Pixelated or stretched images just look amateurish and definitely not engaging. Make sure you’re using the right aspect rations and resolutions for all images, video and animations.

Use visual hooks to snare people as they pass by the screens. This could be an arresting image, or it might just be an attractor like the date and time, the current weather forecast, a news ticker or social media feeds. Once they’ve looked over at the digital sign, they’ll hopefully get snared by the rest of the content. A lot of this type of content can be auto-updating, reducing the digital signage manager’s workload.

Having some screens in portrait orientation in among all the landscape ones also creates a sense of newness to the eye and makes people look. Something truly impressive like a video wall is sure to grab people’s attention.

The truth is that fullscreen content almost always looks best. The message is the biggest it can be on that display, so it can be seen from farther away. But using multi-window layouts can also be enticing. There’s a lot happening on the screen, which might make people stop for a moment to take it all in.

It’s an old design trick to change layouts from time to time. This makes messages seem like they’re new, even if they aren’t. Even just switching the picture accompanying a message from the right to the left side of the screen can be enough to make people stop a moment and pay attention. You can change layouts from one week to the next, throughout the week, or even throughout the day.

Your messages also need to be clean and clear. Use good contrast and legibility. Don’t put in too much text – three lines of five words each or five lines of three words each is recommended (this is called the 3×5 Rule). Use clean sans serif fonts (these can be seen better at a distance), and don’t use more than three fonts in a single message (and better only one or two). Understanding focus techniques when places elements in the message will also help increase people’s engagement.

A good rule is to put your finished messages on the screens and then preview them from at least six feet away. Which elements draw your eye first? Can you get the entire content of the message in seven seconds or less? Test it out and then adjust until it’s perfect.

Access Emotions

Want to captivate an audience? Stir their emotions. Cognitive science reveals our brains have two main thought systems. System 1 is quick, intuitive and emotional – our gut feeling. System 2 is slow, analytical and critical – our logical side. We often sense something’s “right” or “wrong” instantly because System 1 processes faster than System 2. And despite its efforts, System 2 can’t always override those initial instincts.

Advertisers have long harnessed the power of emotion. Most ads, seen for just a short period of time, aim to spark quick, instinctive reactions. Political scientist Ted Brader’s experiments reveal that people respond best to positive ads with cheerful imagery. Conversely, harsh and ominous ads only resonate with those already informed about the topic.

A digital signage message is typically up for 7-10 seconds, so choosing an image and text that immediately triggers System 1 is probably going to be more effective than any other kind. In addition, it’s well known that certain colors tend to have certain associations, though there can be cultural differences.

Get Them to Interact

Interactive touchscreens and kiosks are becoming more and more commonplace. People are beginning to expect at least some interactivity when approaching screens. These also allow you to embed far more information in nested menus, and your audience can go through whatever they want at their own pace, which is inherently engaging.

Even static displays can offer a type of interactivity. QR codes let people go out to an external webpage using their phones where they can get more information, take a quick survey or poll, access a wayfinding map, get digital coupons and much more.

Whenever you can add some sort of interactive option, do it.

Every digital signage message should include a call to action. Asking viewers to not only see and understand but also act on your message drives engagement. This immediate ROI – Return on Investment or perhaps Return on Involvement – is measurable by the number of people who respond. How many engaged with your content? Count those who took action, and you’ll have your answer.

Selfies as a Call to Action

One fun way to get people to do something is to encourage them to take a selfie. People love to see themselves in pictures, and photos are one of the most attractive elements you can use on your digital signs to draw attention. Here are some ideas for selfies for your signs:

  • Show selfies from a recent event. If you’ve had a charity walk or a campus concert, why not show off some of the fun? This is a great way to build goodwill for the cause, organization or event that has already happened, as well as attract attendees to the next event.
  • Feature a selfie with an employee or student of the week. Combine the photo with some fun facts about that person.
  • Integrate social media sites into your signs. If you already allow image posts and selfies on your social channels, why not share them on screen?
  • Have a selfie contest. If you’re trying to engage more of your digital signage audience, try a selfie contest on social media with winners posted on your screens. This will encourage participants to check the screens, and they might just trip over a message or two in the process.

Don’t forget to give your audience some context for the photos. A selfie campaign can be a great way to involve more people in content creation and increase audience participation.

Turn On the Fans

It’s often a misconception by digital signage teams that they have to constantly think up ways to “make” people interested. People are already interested in something, and by incorporating those interests into your content strategy a digital signage deployment can get a loyal following and plenty of engagement.

Certain topics always draw a crowd – think the latest TV hit, celebrity gossip, or blockbuster movies. But dig a little deeper with quick polls and surveys, and you might uncover unexpected interests. Maybe your audience is full of passionate foodies. Use mouth-watering images to reel them in. Highlight local farmers’ markets, food festivals, and new restaurants to spark strong emotional connections. Discover what excites your viewers and weave it into your content seamlessly.

Sprots is an obvious one. Some fans are incredibly loyal to their teams and will even strike up conversations with total strangers if they find out they share a love of the same team. That’s a built-in impulse to engage that you can use to get people interested in your digital signs.

Athletics, whether at universities or local schools, unites students and drives revenue. Use digital signs to hype upcoming games, boost attendance, and advertise gear to engage fans. Beyond that, sports programs build school spirit and foster a strong community culture. Highlight player achievements and coach profiles to make the team relatable. Share stats and memorable plays to create an inclusive fan experience.

Digital signs at corporate HQs or banks might not scream sports, but local teams captivate people. Whether it’s a AAA baseball club, a college football squad, or a high school wrestling team on fire this season, featuring community sports scores big. It grabs attention and keeps eyes on your screens, boosting exposure to all your content.

Sports is just one of the many areas in the culture that generates fans. You can take the sports example and apply it to anything that’s hot and trending with your audience. It could be a local band with a large fanbase, trending YouTube videos, technology releases, fairs and festivals, even a hot Instagram page. If you have a family-friendly culture, show messages about family destinations or kids’ activities in the area. You’re only limited by the number and type of interests you can glean from your viewers.

Fandom is a powerful thing, and by tapping into it you can get everyone actively engaging with your digital signage content on a daily basis. And they’ll seek out your signs on their own because they know there’s something there for them. Remember – you don’t always have to create a community; you just need to tap into communities that already exist.

Use Pop Culture

Your organization and audience are both made up of people. To engage them with digital signage, remember: people rarely linger just to watch screens cycle through playlists. They’re either waiting, taking a break, or passing by. You need to grab their attention fast and convey your message swiftly. One effective strategy? Harness the allure of popular culture in your digital signage designs.

Pop culture covers a wide spectrum of categories, but the most popular ones are:

  • Sports
  • Entertainment
  • Fashion
  • Technology
  • News
  • Slang/Memes

Each of these is rich territory to be mined for elements with which to frame your content. It makes what you’re trying to say feel fresh and current, and thus relevant. People are probably already talking about these things and sharing/posting/commenting about them on social networks and other web portals, so you already have built-in interest from the start.

Steer clear of trending news, but dive into the buzzworthy entertainment everyone’s raving about. Be it a TV series, film, musical act, book, or video game – there’s always something capturing attention. Entertainment marketing teams craft irresistible campaigns with striking images and catchy taglines to build anticipation before releases hit. These efforts often spark social media memes and viral moments. Tap into this excitement and share it with your audience for maximum engagement.

Imagine weaving trending memes and phrases into your messages. This keeps communication fresh, relevant, and engaging. It’s perfect for important messages that need constant visibility – staples in every playlist. While the core message stays intact, you can refresh its appeal with new pop culture references as movies premiere, TV shows gain traction, or albums drop.

Annual events are another source of good material. Oscar acceptance speeches often generate some memorable quotes, as do sporting events and championships. And while it’s sometimes thought of as “just for kids”, the video game industry is a juggernaut, making more money annually than all the world’s film and music industries combined.

How can you truly know what will captivate your audience? Conduct quick surveys to discover their preferences – people love sharing about themselves. You might find that 30% of your employees are fans of a specific band or regularly tune into a popular podcast. Identify the trending hosts and authors among them. If many are Stephen King enthusiasts, peppering messages with his references or quotes will definitely grab their attention.

You might want to stay away from possibly divisive news stories, but there’s still plenty of human-interest reporting being done, especially at the local level. You can also keep abreast of tech releases, trending hashtags and internet jokes, or slang. A little quick searching online will yield plenty of material.

One thing you should be aware of is using copyrighted material. You’re not charging money for people to look at your digital signs, but make sure you have the right to use copyrighted promotional images or phrases before sharing them with a wider audience.

Activating your audience’s interests can be incredibly effective for getting your content noticed. Using pop culture on your digital signs almost guarantees people will look at your screens more often and for longer. They’re also more likely to talk about what they see there with others, further expanding the effectiveness of your messages.

Get Playful

Sure, some of your messages are not at all frivolous (deadlines for signing up for benefits, safety advice, etc.), but no one said everything has to be serious all the time. Tossing in some fun content is a great way to get people to pay attention and maybe even linger a bit in front of your displays.

My friend claims she glued herself to her autobiography. I don’t believe her, but that’s her story and she’s sticking to it.

Who doesn’t love a joke? Sure, maybe this one’s a bit corny, but funny is funny. Even a corny dad joke is kind of funny. Short jokes are a great way to get attention, and they can be split into two separate messages – joke and punchline. They also give your messaging a bit of personality. People also like to learn jokes so they can tell them later, and short jokes are the easiest to remember, so keep them brief.

Everyone likes a good joke, and making people laugh is a great way for your audience to form positive associations with your digital signage.

Q: What occurs once in a minute, twice in a moment and never in one thousand years?

Asking a question always engages people, and a riddle is a question that’s also a bit of a brain teaser. Imagine putting the above question in a message and letting it run for a couple of days. People are certain to see it and try to figure it out. A few days later, you post the answer:

A: The letter M

This is a terrific way to get people to watch your digital signs. You can even have the answer later in the same playlist, but in between that and the question, you’ve put an important notice. This will likely increase the number of people who see that announcement, as they wait a few moments for the answer to appear.

Digital signage

Benefits from a haiku;

Much more engaging

OK, so that’s not a great haiku, but the idea here is that culture and creativity make for great signage. Haiku is a 17-syllable verse form consisting of three metrical units of 5, 7, and 5 syllables (in English).

The haiku form lends itself well to signage due to its relative brevity, but other short forms of poetry will work well on screens, too. Like limericks, which is a five-line poem with a distinctive rhythm. The first, second and fifth lines, the longer lines, rhyme. The third and fourth shorter lines rhyme (so the scheme is AABBA). Like:

There once was a digital sign

That showed weather to those in line

It started to rain

But then the sun came

And everything turned out just fine

Contrary to popular belief…not all limericks are dirty. You can have some very clean fun with these spread out on five messages in a row that transition quickly, one line of the limerick per message.

And obviously, St. Patrick’s Day is a perfect time to include some limericks, since the name for the form might come from the Irish city of county of Limerick, where there was once a nonsense verse parlor game that always included the phrase “Won’t you come to Limerick?”.

The burden of coming up with all this amazing content is not necessarily only on the digital signage manager’s shoulders. Reach out to your audience. A contest inviting people to submit any of these forms would be a great way to get people involved and might attract participation from people who don’t normally engage with your messages. Remember, whatever creative content you present, it’s all about attracting and engaging your audience.