When it comes to content, the question that most marketers always come back to is how to keep users engaged: Should your team dazzle customers with videos? How long should quality articles be? What will customers really get out of this? Will they keep coming back for more?
As marketers think about these questions more and more, customers and social media users think about them less and less. In fact, users are thinking about everything less, it seems. In the past ten years, the average attention span has dropped from 12 minutes to 5 minutes. Readers don’t get past the first few lines of an article (hey, congrats if you’ve made it this far) and YouTube users might only watch a video for a few seconds before unceremoniously closing the tab.
In the face of increasingly shorter attention spans, how can marketers grab the attention of their target audiences? Many are turning to the concept of snackable content, or short-form data such as text, images or video that consumers can engage with quickly, on a smaller screen and while on-the-go. Ideally, this kind of content will leave users hungry for similar content in the future. It can also pique their interest in other longer content you provide.
The Internet is unlimited, but your content doesn’t need to be.
There are some stories that need thousands of words and deserve a two-page newspaper spread, but most do not. In fact, once you embrace the idea of snackable content, you can find that it is actually extremely easy to break down most of your content into shorter blocks, and your users will find it more engaging.
Consider Twitter. Part of the reason the site has been so successful is because it forces users to be concise. As a result, it has changed the way we communicate. Being forced down to 140 characters has taught us to condense what we need to say into a short, concise main idea. Gone are long Internet ramblings, at least on Twitter. Messages are now about essence, not verbosity, and you should approach your content in the same way.
That’s not to say that long-form content doesn’t have its place–believe me, it does. You will find, you can be more successful when you are able to mix the two. However, snackable content can truly draw your followers in. The next step, of course, is providing high-quality content to keep them there.[xyz-ihs snippet=”Agency-Link”]
Disguise longer content as snackable content.
Images are the bread and butter of snackable content. One of the best ways to get someone’s attention is through easy-to-consume visual content. The brain processes images quicker than it processes text. Therefore, it can be better to link your longer content to easily digestible images.
Take the freelance developer network, Toptal, for example. They usually publish original long-form content from its developers and designers. To grab readers’ attention, most posts contain at least one original graphic illustration. When the image is posted along with the link to the relevant blog post, it does a singular job of drawing in readers who are sure to be interested in the associated content.
If you can adopt this photo-focused strategy in a way that is relevant to your longer content, you will find that you will be able to draw a high volume of interested traffic to your site. According to Thrillist Media Group CEO Ben Lerer, “Image-heavy content plays well. People don’t really like to read, but they will make their choice via an image, then they’ll read and then they’re more likely to share.”
It’s not all about your product.
It might seem counter-intuitive, but the best way to promote your product with snackable content is to get that product out of the way. Instead, your content should be more about what your brand represents than the product you are trying to sell. This is a huge turn from traditional advertising campaigns, which tend to push the product, its user benefits and the lifestyle it can provide all at the same time. With snackable content in particular, you’ve got to be more focused.
This can be best achieved by viewing your company as a story because many people love stories. Users may be more willing to follow your company if they feel like they are following a story instead of constantly being sold something they don’t want (or don’t know they want yet). Play on the nature of stories by publishing content in a series, effectively leaving your followers with a cliffhanger between posts.
This can be a great way to repurpose longer content into shorter pieces as well. Present photos or articles, one at a time, as part of a continuing series. Longer articles can be broken down into standalone articles and shared online, or products can be shared one at a time through Instagram posts. You can even run groups of these posts that are themed and linked together, giving you an excuse to continue promoting older content.
The use of short, snackable content is a great tool to have in your content marketing arsenal, but it shouldn’t be the sole strategy you rely on. Play with the balance of shorter versus longer content to find what works best for your company and your audience. After all, no one can go very long without a full meal, but it sure is nice to have a small snack in between.