The Rise of Microcontent (& 7 tips for Making Yours Better)

Image by Joseph Mucira from Pixabay

The original version of this story first appeared on WriteVest.com, where you can also find valuable tips on writing, storytelling, and content creation.

Short-form copy, microblogs, clips, snippets, soundbites — yawn. The latest craze in the publishing biz that caters to our rapidly deteriorating attention spans is microcontent.

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 content a strategic position 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).

From now on, the ability to craft microcontent from long-form media will be a sought-after skill in writers and creatives. So here are a few tips for making sure you’re making the most of your 10-seconds in the spotlight:

Content strategist, writer, designer, singer and wunderluster who is obsessed with podcasts.