Let me ask you a question: Why are you reading this?
Probably because you’re interested in content marketing, but also my guess is…because it’s short.Well, short-er as far as blog articles are concerned. I mean it’s certainly not a 5000-word keyword-packed bloatware piece that’s going to require your entire lunch hour to consume.
You wanted some fast, actionable, bite-sized pieces of information to make your business better, to get your marketing mojo pumped up again, and something you could use to help your clients.
Let’s call it ‘snackable content’.
What else is snackable? Instagram Reels, YouTube Shorts, 5-minute podcast episodes.
It seems like short-form content is taking over the world these days.
The 800lb. Gorilla
So, why is this happening?
The bigger sociological trend influencing short-form content is that we are all strapped for time. Folks want their content delivered like they were running out to the 7-11 for milk. A quick in and out.
But the bigger influence is that there happens to be a new 800lb. gorilla in the room that everyone is freaking out about.
TikTok recently became the most heavily trafficked website in the world. They now get more traffic than Google’s search engine. A stat that is blowing a whole lot of people’s minds.
And everyone wants a piece of TikTok’s viewership pie.
YouTube is trying to compete with YouTube Shorts. Instagram has Reels. There’s also Snapchat Spotlight, Triller, Byte, Hippo Video, and others jockeying for positions.
Instagram has started leaning so heavily into promoting ‘Reels’ that they’ve begun taking ‘regular old’ images users are posting and are turning them into reels – without the person who posted it even knowing it’s happening.
Adam Mosseri, CEO of Instagram, recently posted a reel acknowledging that many O.G. Instagrammers are pretty upset about what is happening to the platform. So much so that he decided he needed to respond to their concerns in a post, explaining how “Instagram is still committed to its account holders who mainly focus on posting images.”
Personally, my ears perked up when he used the word “still”.
In my experience, tech leaders have a tendency to say they are ‘“still” committed to something just before it goes away.
Time will tell.
On the audio front, many podcasts are experimenting with short-form podcasts that are 5-8 minutes in length.
With short-form audio, as a listener, it’s easy to slip from one episode to the next when episodes are so bite-sized. You get to hear more topics with less fiddling with your podcast app interface.
Much to marketers glee you also happen to get exposed to more ads and sponsored endorsements in a shorter amount of time.
Our collective attention span has decreased to the extent that people are even getting impatient with the long-form content they’re consuming.
YouTube notes that viewers often skip ahead many times during a long-form video. The platform recently introduced ‘chapters’ functionality to try to address this fact, so people could self-navigate, or curate longer-form content to reduce the time it takes to consume it.
YouTube viewers are also increasingly watching long-form videos at faster playback speeds. YouTube says 1.5x speed is the most common, with 2x coming in a close second.
Now, for content creators and marketers the tidal shift to ‘snackable content’ has some benefits. It takes less time to create it, so you can create more and post more often.
Because you are posting more frequently, your chances of getting a brand impression are higher – even though that impression might not be as deep.
Also, short-form content feels more shareable, so your chances of consumer-amplified exposure are higher, too.
Most importantly, you’re showing your audience that you value their time and that you are paying attention to how they want to have value delivered to them.
It Needs a Spark
One important consideration to bear in mind when creating this sort of content is something you might not have spent too much time thinking about.
That’s ‘entertainment value’.
This is another notable side-effect of the TikTok phenomenon.
With short-form content, because your time communicating to the viewer is shorter, your content has to have a bit of ’spark’ to it. It has to have some energy. Maybe even a bit of fun.
Mainly because it could very well be bookended with a video showing the latest internet dance challenge and another one of a skateboard kick-flip fail.
That’s because the algorithms that are deciding what videos to serve up to you are still in the toddler-stuffing-Cheerios-into-the-dogs-nose phase of development. In fact a few of them, Instagram most notably, are pretty broken.
Now, all this is not to propose that long-form content is going away. It’s not. There are some ideas and topics that you just can’t do justice to in short-form content.
Rest assured, the 5,000-word, SEO keyword-packed, heavily referenced, and backlinked blog post still has its place in the world.
But when the tides change like this in the world of content and business, it’s best to be paying close attention.
It’s never a bad idea to pause, re-evaluate your analytics and adjust your marketing efforts to be sure you’re still hitting the targets you’ve laid out, both for engagement and conversions.
The data in HubSpot’s 2022 video marketing report speaks for itself:
• Short-form video ranks #1 for lead generation and engagement
• Marketers will invest in short-form video more in 2022 than any other format
• 85% of marketers say short-form videos are the most effective format on social media
With these stats in mind, if you aren’t actively experimenting with the creation of some type of ’snackable content’, you’re very possibly missing the biggest wave in social media since the invention of the Tweet.
About the author
Philip VanDusen is owner of Verhaal Brand Design a brand strategy and design agency serving SMBs and entrepreneurs. Philip previously served as VP of Design at PepsiCo and Old Navy and Executive Creative Director at Landor Associates. As a thought leader, Philip shares his expertise in brand building on his YouTube channel to his 255k subscribers, in his Brand•Muse newsletter and on the Brand Design Masters podcast.