‘Brevity is the soul of wit’
When you Google ‘Future of content marketing’, you’re bombarded with tips and tricks that claim to change the world of content, but it takes just a quick scan to relegate it to junk. Rarely, you come across a priceless gem, like this quote, that makes you stop and think.
I’ll be honest here – I worship long content. A well written, informative blog, with meaty takeaways is the perfect recipe to shake the lazy grey cells from their slumber. Neil Patel concluded in a research on his blog Quicksprout that Google prefers longer blogs, but I ask you: Don’t we find a well-designed infographic or a creative meme packing an equal punch?
Research on Visual vs. Text
The best way to get somebody’s attention is to create visual content that is also quick to consume because our brain processes images faster than text. Dr. Lynell Burmark, Ph.D. Associate at the Thornburg Center for Professional Development explained in a study: “…unless our words, concepts, ideas are hooked onto an image, they will go in one ear, sail through the brain, and go out the other ear.”
Also, according to an article in Forbes, adding infographics boosts credibility and traffic for websites as 90 percent of all information we remember is based on visual impact. After Facebook introduced its timeline feature for brands, there was a 65% increase in interactive content engagement (Video and Photo), revealed a study by Simply Measured. This shows that visual content is more likely to be shared on social media.
Now, that we’ve established the value of presenting our audience with visual content over text, let’s see if we should make it short or long.
We all love snacks. Admit it. They can never compare to a lavish spread, but the instant gratification that a can of Pringles gives is undeniable. It’s the same with the way we consume content. Take Twitter. Who would have thought this 140 character medium of expression will change the way we communicate with each other? The discipline a wordlimit imposes on Twitter users has saved us from ramblings often found on the internet. Because, we’re living in an age of information overload, Communication is more focussed on the essence of the message than the length of our copy. Buzzfeed, Tumblr and Pinterest are thriving on creating content in the form of memes, gifs, videos – all of which are forms of short, easy to grasp and engaging content. Visual content is also shared more on social media.
The internet today is buzzing with bite-size content, so let’s dig right into the ways in which you can create quick and easy to digest content.
Vine is a video sharing app by Twitter that lets you post and watch looping six-second video clips. Usually, making a video is considered a time consuming process, but with Vine video recording and sharing became pretty simple. Brands, especially, jumped on the Vine video bandwagon to advertise their products in short video clips that are easy on the bandwidth and send across the message better than an image. See this Vine video by Bacardi below.
The most beautiful and imaginative form of short content is a Haiku, the smallest literary form by the Japanese. Crafted in three crisp lines, a Haiku can sometimes be more inspirational than a speech. New York Times has a blog dedicated to Haikus that are selected by a computer algorithm from all the content posted on the site.
This style of short content is a creative way to get across your message without consuming extra white space as a few lines of the haiku can touch your heart without rambling into a Wordsworthian trance.
Photographer Jamie Beck of Cinemagraphs captured the essence of a Gif bang on when she said: “a photograph that is still alive.”
The GIF format dates back to early days of the Internet in 1987, when ISP CompuServe developed the “graphics interchange format.” But this 80s phenomenon has risen from the ashes to take over the web with social sharing sites such as Tumblr. From year ender lists like ‘Most Popular Gifs of 2013’ to being a content marketers new tool, Gifs have become ubiquitous on the net.
Richard Dawkins coined this word in his seminal 1976 book The Selfish Gene. But who knew the ‘Meme’ would become a pop culture sensation? From animals to politicians, memes are doing all the talk minus the long words. When you go about creating a meme, try making something that has an impact on your audience’s mind instead of dumb fun (read Harlem Shake). Google says the best way to make a meme is to find something familiar and present it in a new light.
Images are more likely to get shared than text, which is one of the reasons why Imgur, the photo hosting site that was a part of Reddit, has now eclipsed Reddit’s traffic.What better way to prove my point than through the infographic thats shows why images have a better recall value than text.
Now, that you’ve noted all the ways in which you can create snackable content here’s the secret sauce behind creating viral ‘snackable content’:
Easy to Grasp: I’ll go back to my example of a snack. What is a snack? Small portions of food that can be consumed quickly. (And are irresistible). You got to think like this while creating snackable content: Short, easy to understand, engaging and shareable. Tesla Motors announced a new safety feature by not blogging about it, but by posting a cool Gif.
Give Them What They Like: Why is the web flooded with everything Cats? Because people share them! It all basically comes down to one thing: What people share in social media is predictable. Research confirms that users are more likely to retweet memes about which they posted in the past since memory is an important ingredient for a model of meme competition.
Put Some Heart in it: According to Buzzfeeds’ CEO Jonah Peretti content goes viral when it ‘Has A Heart’. Case in point: Buzzfeeds most viral post of 2013: 21 Pictures That Will Restore Your Faith In Humanity that has been viewed 14,919,241 since it was posted.
As Google puts it: “when we share a video or an image, we’re not just sharing the object, but we’re sharing in the emotional response it creates.
Ride the Wave: Most of the content that goes viral is a clever variation of something happening in the world. Take the case of USA figure skater Ashley Wagner’s angry face memes that flooded the net at the time of Sochi Olympics.
The meme got so popular that Mashable actually compiled a list of memes inspired by her. You can also ride the wave by keeping an eye on trending topics and generating content around them.
Remix the Blog: If you have a great blog post that has been doing well, promote it again. Pick up one key takeaway, turn it into an infographic or a meme and share it on social media. Remixing old or long content into multiple small ‘snacks’ not only improves values of the long copy but is also a quick way to create snackable content.
If you are convinced that ‘snackable content’ is a game-changer in content marketing, go ahead and try it. Remember the tips shared above and ensure that your bite-size content doesn’t get lost in the Internet’s attic.
Note: This post is the result of a skeptic turned believer of content served in small helpings.
Mark W. Schaefer @Amazon.com
Infographics @ Neomam.com
Haiku @ Times Haiku
Woman Gif @ Cinemagraph
Tesla Motors @ Techcrunch.com
Subway @ Buzzfeed.com
Ashley Wagner @ Mashable.com
Richard Dawkins meme@ Memeburn.com