If you’ve ever written a blog, posted a photo to Instagram, or even tweeted, then you’ve created microcontent, and it’s one of the most effective ways to reach an audience. Like its name implies, microcontent is short or quick. But this small content can make a much bigger impression — if done correctly.
Making quick content is easy. But making quick content that’s good takes a well-planned strategy. Just because something is brief doesn’t mean it’s guaranteed to catch your readers’ attentions.
What Exactly Is Microcontent?
Microcontent has been defined and redefined over the years. As our computers went from desktops to laptops to cell phones, microcontent evolved with it. Today, we like to think of microcontent as anything concise that can stand on its own. It’s not a new concept, but a changing one.
Consider the headline. Newspaper headlines — whether in a 16th-century flyer or on your news app of choice today — communicate in a concise way. The good ones tell readers that you have more to offer them. In addition to the newspaper, that headline can live digitally on the paper’s website, its Twitter, its Facebook, and more.
And microcontent comes in many forms, including the following:
Being Proactive and Reactive With Microcontent
There’s a good chance you already have some strong pieces for a microcontent campaign and just haven’t realized it yet.
An infographic, for example, is composed of several pieces that likely have substantial value on their own. Take them apart, share them where relevant, and see how your audience reacts. Maybe you’ll find these pieces — whether clusters of data or captivating illustrations — work as a series in microcontent. From there, you can create new content that wasn’t necessarily included on your infographic.
And while standalone pieces of visual content are powerful in their own right, when united with a broader set of goals, the impact can be so much greater. Approaching a project proactively with a complete toolkit at hand for a visual campaign will allow you take your audience through a comprehensive journey of awareness, engagement, and results.
Small Content, but Big Results
A 2015 study on brain activity revealed attention spans are declining — rapidly. In the year 2000, it was already fairly short at 12 seconds. But 15 years later, it had dipped to a measly 8 seconds. If you’re trying to reach an audience, you’d better do it fast because the numbers say they aren’t waiting around.
A major benefit of microcontent is that it’s consumable by nature. That short attention span shouldn’t be an issue here, as your audience can interpret the piece of microcontent before they move on. It’s not the entire meal. It’s just a bite, but ideally it’s enough to bring them in for more.
That brevity should be appealing to the creator as well. While the time needed to create microcontent might vary, it’s typically resource-friendly. A tweet is at most 140 characters. An Instagram post is 1-10 photos (depending on your use of the album image feature). A GIF is a handful of frames.
Sticking to Best Practices for Microcontent
Microcontent, just like anything else, needs a strategy that follows best practices. Fortunately, the best practices for microcontent don’t vary much from their bigger brothers and sisters, but some aspects of the different formats can use some special attention.
If you’re creating a static piece of visual content, consider what will resonate with your target audience. It’s important to remember that visual doesn’t mean just pictures. Provide information and a story. For example, if you have a longform piece on a large issue, a good approach for your microcontent is to introduce the problem, explain why it matters, and present a solution.
Maybe you’re trying an animated approach. On average, only 40% of viewers watch a motion graphic over 90 seconds to completion. Your GIFs will be much shorter than this, but the lesson is the same: keep it short.
And no matter what you’re making, it’s always important to stay on brand. This will allow you to create sincere, replicable content.
Think Ahead, but Think Fast
In 2013, the Baltimore Ravens won the Super Bowl, but Oreo — yes, the cookie brand — won it too. While companies were paying millions of dollars to run commercials, Oreo did it with a tweet. During the game, the power went out in the stadium. It was an unplanned, unpredictable event, and people took to the internet to talk about it, including Oreo.
The people at Oreo didn’t know the power was going to go out. But its team knew it was one of the biggest events of the year, so they were prepared to react to whatever did happen that day by having a 15-person social team at the ready.
While the Super Bowl only comes once a year, the opportunities for microcontent come daily, and should be a core part of your content strategy.