Imagine you’re waiting for the elevator, which is still 10 floors down. About 5–10 seconds pass, and the number on the screen shows no movement.
Automatically, your hand reaches into your pocket (or your bag) for your phone- you check the notifications, go on Facebook and browse through the newsfeed aimlessly, glancing back at the elevator every second. A few seconds later, it arrives.
These little pockets of time fill up our lives. And we will fill them up by browsing through our phones
Now, these’s pockets of times- let’s call them interstices (credit’s- Umberto Eco, see below picture)- have a very special characteristic:
They’re far too short for anything but instant gratification. There’s no time to go deep into something, no time to give considered thought.
Interstices can only by filled by Micro-Content
But what exactly is Micro-content?
It is whatever you consume on your phone during these interstices- while waiting for the subway, for the elevator, for the guy on the counter to give you your burger.
It could be tweets, instagram pictures, vines, the facebook newsfeed, tumblr gifs, quotes, snapchat messages, stumbleupon pages, slideshare presentations, anything at all, that occupies your attention for a short burst before replaced by another piece of micro-content.
It’s those short little nuggets of content you consume in seconds before moving on to the next one.
This tweet right here is perhaps the most famous example of micro-content in history.
Think of it this way- Millions of people are watching Superbowl XLVII, and there’s a power cut. People are a little frustrated, and anxious, but they don’t quite know how long it might take. The reach for their phone, browse through twitter, and find this.
Absolute genius. Oreo forever associated itself with the most watched event in television history, without paying the crazy advertisement price.
As you’ll see later, this little tweet fills every single requirement of Micro-Content.
Why brands should use Micro-content:
- Every second, millions of people are filling up their ‘interstices’ by looking for micro-content. That’s the same reach as TV commercials, but a fraction of the cost. (Note- The average user in checks their phone 1500 times a week. Think about that. That’s your window of opportunity. 1500 ‘10-second’ bursts)
- Micro-content is addictive. Do you ever have that urge to check Facebook/Instagram/Twitter/etc.? That’s the dopamine rush that comes from using these platforms and consuming micro-content.
- Social Media Marketing is now a daily activity, and micro-content fits in very neatly in this paradigm. As Gary Vaynerchuk so wonderfully explains in his book Jab, Jab, Jab, Right Hook- you need to keep giving interesting content to the consumer, to make him more receptive to the occasional time that you do try and actually sell to him. After all, think about this, how would you feel if the same brand pops up in your timeline/discovery page with offers and promotional posts all the time? Wouldn’t you unfollow/unlike the page?
- Short bursts of your long-form content can be taken as micro-content and posted on different platforms, which means that your effort in producing one piece of content can pay off multiple times. Here’s how True Detective used pictures from the trailer of the second season as Micro-Content.
Micro-content can also be aggregated into long-form content.
What should your micro-content be like: A checklist
We once again turn to Gary Vaynerchuk for guidance. As he mentioned in his book Jab Jab Jab Right Hook, here are the qualities that go into making great-micro-content:
a) It’s Native
Every platform has its own language, type of content, and different types of users. As a brand, it’s worth learning the language of each platform and the type of content that does well on each.
Social Offline, a cafe/bar/collaborative workspace in Delhi and Bangalore, shows us a good example of the kind of posts that do well on Instagram (hint- avoid stock images!)
In the process, Social Offline manages to stay connected to previous customers while position itself favourably to new ones.
b) It Doesn’t interrupt
One of the problems with ads out of the digital word is that they interrupt what you’re doing. You’re not watching TV to see commercials, you’re watching it to see your favourite show, and the commercials interrupt that particular experience.
The viewer didn’t have much power (DVR’s never caught on in India), but they do on Social Media. This is where the best brands differentiate themselves by posting content that doesn’t interrupt the user’s experience on social media.
Here’s a great example by Flipkart.
c) It’s Consistent and Self-Aware
Every social media professional will take up about the need for the messaging to be consistent, and for each brand to have ‘brand tone’, but we’ve noticed that in most cases, even social media professionals have an extremely vague idea of what these concepts even mean.
We found an example both of consistency and a friendly brand tone in an industry often perceived to be boring- ICICI Bank.
4) It’s Easily Digestible and Non-demanding
Don’t expect the consumer to zoom into your picture and try and understand what you’re trying to say. Remember, Micro-content is something the viewer can consume in a couple of seconds. It also is something that doesn’t ask them to make an effort. Ask a consumer to click somewhere which opens on a different screen and they’ll most likely close the screen- you just interrupted his experience.
So these are the four essential rules that everybody brand needs to follow with their micro-content. Beyond this, there’s another rule that you can follow for bonus points:-
Leverage Pop-Culture/ current affairs
This is pretty self-explanatory. As we know, Every day, there’s a new thing that catches the attention of netizens, ranging from popular movies and TV shows to news items and even festivals.
As a brand, taking advantage of these days is like riding a wave, especially on twitter where hashtags allow you a much better chance of being discovered. It’s also a chance to present yourself as an up-to-date brand that cares about the same things that it consumers does.
To look for a solid example, we didn’t need to read much more than a couple of posts from one of India’s most creative brands on Social Media- Zomato.
Here’s how they took advantage of the release of Jurrasic Park
This tweet by the same company is an absolutely brilliant example of:
It’s become too monotonous to say Social Media has changed marketing for away. Instead, what we’re going to say that the change hasn’t stopped happening. These might be the five rules that work today, but who knows what paradigm shifts the next five years bring in?
Also, one of the reasons for the declining effectiveness of email marketing is reader fatigue, and it’s possible that it starts to happen across social media marketing too- in fact it probably already is happening. This is why you need to be put in that extra effort and creativity to stand out in an increasingly crowded digital world.