November 2, 2020 | | , , , ,

For better or worse, the rise of microcontent

For better or worse, the rise of microcontent

Short-form copy, microblogs, clips, snippets, soundbites — yawn. 

The latest craze in the publishing biz that caters to our rapidly deteriorating attention spans, microcontent is any form of media that is consumable in 10-30 seconds. That includes social posts, blogs, text excerpts, videos, audiograms, graphics, and infographs. As Smart Insights dubbs it, it’s “low cost, high-value content appropriate to social channels.”

Condensing long-form pieces for digital consumption is habitual for writers nowadays, but the new nomenclature gives this form of content its strategic positioning in the content marketing funnel. It’s thought leadership to-go. Though not necessarily memorable, microcontent is “bait” that lures people into your brand sphere for the purpose of quickly delivering value. If you can offer something thought-provoking, useful, or entertaining in a few seconds and deliver it consistently, then you’re earning brand awareness, creating the potential for virality, and most importantly, boosting credibility and trust. For organizations and content creators whose purpose is noncommercial (i.e. news outlets, nonprofits, community groups), microcontent is how you cut through the noise to speedily get your information out—before disappearing back into the content circus.

One of my favorite examples is the recent trend on Instagram of publishing mini-slideshow narratives in place of photos. (Here’s an example.) Instead of using five bullet points in a blog post, each bullet gets its own slide. The kinetic interaction vis-a-vis swiping through the post can actually increase message retention. Plus, with 1 billion users on Instagram each month, there’s undeniable value in optimizing your content for engagement on the platform.

I appreciate this trend for its widespread application to topics like social issues, career advice, and well-being tips. A decade ago, people who felt passionately about a topic or cause would share an article about it on Facebook, and I’d read the headline and keep scrolling (no time for that 7-minute exposé). Now, my feed is full of people sharing the mini slideshows in their stories. That TL;DR (too long; didn’t read) excuse doesn’t cut it when you can learn about something in a few seconds. 

The same goes for distilling a 1-hour podcast into a few 30-second audiograms for social (like this one). Or compressing a 2-hour tutorial into a 10-second how-to on TikTok (like this one). Going forward, the ability to craft microcontent from long-form media will be a sought-after skill in writers or creatives. So here are a few tips for making sure you’re making the most of your 10-seconds in the spotlight.

  1. Lead with the “so what.” We all love a seductive exposition, but there’s no time for that anymore. Get to the big-picture takeaways, pronto.
  2. Revise your language to say more with less. Check out our post on brevity
  3. Think about quality and quantity. It’s okay if you have 17 key takeaways from your report. Group them into sets of four or five and create four pieces of microcontent. 
  4. Be consistent. In your tone of voice, visual identity, quality of information/entertainment and publishing frequency. It matters. 
  5. Use tools like Canva to make it easy. A renowned visual content creation tool, Canva now lets you edit video and audio in addition to static visual content (and no, this isn’t an affiliate link). 
  6. Always close with links to (or info about) where to learn more. Self-explanatory. 
  7. Measure as you go. Remember, each piece of content comes with valuable insight into what your audience does and doesn’t respond to. Measure, evaluate, adapt, adjust, and move forward with new pieces strategically.

If you ever need help thinking about your content strategy, you know where to find us

Credits: Alexis Anthony, writer; Eli Digital Creative via Pixabay, image

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