We’ve all seen pictures of idyllic 1950s families circled around the television, completely entranced by the moving pictures. Those days are gone. Consumers today are dividing their attention among multiple screens at once. While they binge-watch “This Is Us” on Hulu, they’re also checking their Twitter feeds and viewing the latest Instagram Stories on their phones.
According to eMarketer, nearly 132 million American adults interact with unrelated content while they watch TV, while an additional 46 million consume related content. Consumers spend less than a minute on any given website, and mobile — where short is the name of the game — is responsible for 56 percent of internet traffic.
All that said, brands are fighting harder than ever to attract and retain consumer attention during a time when attention spans are at their lowest. Getting through to an increasingly distracted audience will require a strategy backed by the concept of “content snacking” — delivering small, highly relevant nuggets of information that people can consume on the go.
Following are four tips for making your own content more snackable.
1. Add Multimedia in Multiple Formats
One of the best examples of snackable content that we’ve seen emerge over the past few years is GIFs.
“Clever marketers are creating GIFs to help consumers express themselves through these humorous, snackable videos, which make them a shareable utility versus an ad,” Moving Image & Content Founder Quynh Mai said. “GIFs are an economical way for consumers to express their moods, and smart brands are creating GIFs as a utility for that purpose, making these shareable personal expressions and not just a six-second video.”
There’s a world of snacking possibilities beyond just GIFs. Creating content in multiple formats will help you reach consumers in whatever way is most convenient for them.
Text-based content is the easiest to produce, but you should consider creating easy-to-digest charts, infographics, audio, video or even live video content. Remember, though, to always tie it back to your audience’s needs. The type of content that works best for you depends on who you’re trying to reach. Millennials, for example, are more likely to connect with a funny meme, while Baby Boomers may be more interested in an informative infographic.
If you end up creating text-based content, make “easy-to-skim” your mantra. Rather than deliver a wall of text, use bold formatting, numbered lists and clear, easy-to-understand language to get your message across.
2. Deliver Value to Create Repeat Customers
It’s not enough to deliver a funny meme or GIF and call it a day, particularly if the delivery is disruptive. If you're looking to create more snackable content to elevate your brand online, it’s critical that it be useful. Bombarding consumers with irrelevant marketing messages is like forcing them to eat their vegetables. Sure, you got the broccoli in front of them, but is that really the best way to promote healthy eating habits?
On the other hand, according to research from Google, a full 51 percent of smartphone users indicated that they’ve changed a purchasing decision simply because one brand proved itself useful, and 73 percent of general consumers said useful information was their main deciding factor when choosing a brand.
Take Sephora, for instance. Last year, it rolled out a mobile-optimized skincare quiz through an email campaign. After consumers answered a series of short questions regarding their skin types, the quiz delivered a tailored list of products suited to their concerns and needs. The brand even utilized a GIF that walked consumers through the quiz. Not only did Sephora turn its audience from passive consumers into active participants, but it also delivered personalized recommendations that could inform future buying decisions.
Bottom line: Make it "thumb-worthy."
3. Cater to Various Consumption Habits
It stands to reason that different consumers will consume content in different ways, so adjust your strategy to deliver on various preferences.
Consider, for example, allowing audiences to save your content for later consumption. Rather than limiting engagement to users who are ready to interact in the moment, integrating your content with tools such as Flipboard, Pocket, or Feedly will enhance accessibility and boost user engagement. On top of that, double down on accessibility. Include closed captions on your videos for those who might want to watch but not listen, and create audio versions of your long-form text content for those who prefer to listen, rather than read.
You should always be looking for ways to refine your strategy to make it easy for consumers to find you. Make sure your content is optimized for search engines, including image search, mobile search and voice search. Siri, Alexa and Google Assistant are growing in popularity, and by 2020, Gartner predicts that 30 percent of browsing will be conducted via voice.
4. Diversify Your Distribution
If you want your snackable content to be truly convenient, you can’t host it all in one place. Your audience members should be able to easily find you, regardless of where they surf. Maximizing your content amplification early, such as during the first three days following publication, is critical to long-term visibility.
First, consider your owned media, which includes promoting content via your website, email list, blog and social media pages. Then, work on earning mentions from credible third parties like industry blogs, independent media publishers, Reddit users or social media influencers. Content creators and PR teams should coordinate their efforts to find effective third-party partners.
Continue distributing content as long as it’s relevant — you can even breathe new life into older evergreen pieces of content when you see a surge in relevancy or interest. Use A/B testing to determine what headlines attract the most clicks.
With so much content swirling around the internet these days, the competition for consumers’ eyes is fiercer than ever. Brands can’t expect them to invest in long-form blog posts — it’s just not realistic. They need to adjust their delivery methods to cater to consumers’ cravings for bite-sized pieces of content. If your brand can succeed at it now, you’ll be able to connect with users more effectively as their consumption habits continue to evolve.
About Sadie Schabdach
Sadie Schabdach currently serves as Vice President Digital, Data, and Creative Innovation at Mitchell, where she oversees the creative and production teams focused on delivering best-in-class solutions for clients across the country, in collaboration with the entire Dentsu-Aegis Network.
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