It’s a very serious and scientific-sounding word for an emerging kind of marketing that is actually very cool and effective: micro-content.

Micro-content refers to short, powerful bursts of marketing matter, usually associated with social media.

The rise of micro-content has been largely in response to a dramatic shift in people reading content on their mobile phones and hand-held devices. If you catch public transport into work and spend that time on your mobile, then you see it every day.

Reading large chunks of text on a phone can be physically uncomfortable and challenging, and often people will move on rather than attempt it. Short, sharp messages, on the other hand, can be easily and rapidly consumed.

There’s been a lot said and a lot written about the declining attention span of consumers (apparently, we can thank social media, and increasingly short space between ads on TV for that), and micro-content works to leverage that.

For the most part, micro-content is essentially marketing content integrated into social media. It’s a meme on Facebook; a 140-character tweet on Twitter; it’s an image and caption on Instagram.

But if you think micro-content is simply placing ads for your product on social media, think again.

Micro-content marketing is about creating ways to keep your brand in front of your prospects and customers, by building trust, credibility and authenticity, and creating paths for new customers to your business.

Horoscopes and sports scores are common ways brands ‘give’ to their social media followers something considered to be of value, which is also able to be delivered in a couple of sentences. Weather updates is another form. Being aware of the power of images, some companies even offer a ‘cartoon of the day’ or ‘photo of the day’ as micro-content.

How can you incorporate micro-content in your marketing mix?

A great micro-content marketing strategy requires four key elements:

  1. It must be responsive to news and everyday events, while staying true to the marketing strategy
  2. It must make the best use of the particular platform it is shared on. For example, tweets with images are more than twice likely to engage the user than those without
  3. The content must be constantly tested and refined
  4. Content must be ‘stackable’. With so many media options available, it’s not unusual for a person to be engaged with more than one at a time. Micro-content should work in synergy with other platforms to create a seamless journey and on-point message.

It’s important that you don’t mistake micro-content for clickbait, which many users find off-putting. A post must deliver something of value that is relevant to the user. Some marketers even believe not every post should have a call to action.

One of the great advantages of micro-content marketing is the ability to produce advance batches of content.

It’s important, though, that once scheduled, content is not forgotten. You don’t want to tweet a message that is wildly inappropriate or offensive given the day’s news or events.

Just as a combination of print media, TV and radio ads, and digital campaigns are beneficial for an effective marketing mix, micro-content may be as worthy of a place in your strategy.

Examples of micro-content

Instagram is the perfect platform for micro-blogging, allowing for both short and longer form posts.

In Coburg’s popular Sydney Road, @wildtimorcoffee is a cafe with a story of heart. It was founded in 2012 by four Australian peacekeepers who formed a bond with young Timorese local, Jack. Jack and his family worked tirelessly harvesting coffee but found the crops were often unsuitable – too wet, too dry or not processed properly. With a drive to help the struggling Timorese family, the Australian peacekeepers sent a sample of the coffee beans to a friend at home who worked in the coffee industry and discovered they were of great quality. It was then that they realised the Timorese family were being exploited. The peacemakers decided to step in and help – they could harvest coffee beans from East Timor locals and reward their hard work, while making a living for themselves in Australia. The peacemakers returned home and set up shop in Coburg, thanks to an aid program established by @morelandcouncil. The cafe now sources coffee beans from several East Timor families and often hold fundraising programs to help those in need. The cafe has become renowned for its delicious coffee and its willingness to help others. Visit Wild Timor at 282 Sydney Rd, Coburg.

A post shared by Coburg Quarter (@coburg_quarter) on

Facebook supports native video (especially with the upcoming Facebook Watch), making it perfect for short video content, such as the tailored Tasty videos from Buzzfeed:

Lasagna Party Ring

This lasagna party ring is a whole new way to eat lasagna ????! Plus all your friends will be so impressed <3!FULL RECIPE: http://bzfd.it/2ib9I4PBUY THE TASTY ONE TOP: http://bit.ly/2vLAdTu

Posted by Tasty on Friday, August 18, 2017

When it comes to selecting the social media platforms you’ll use for your business, it’s valuable to begin with those that are best suited to the audience you want to reach.

We’ve banged on about how a brand can’t be everything to everyone – rather than be on every social media platform but only post occasionally, choose selected platforms according to the target audience they best reach, and invest in quality posts.

How do you decide which social media platforms are best for your brand? Here’s a rundown of the key social media platforms and the audiences they best suit.

Facebook

Facebook holds the lion’s share of active users on any social media platform, with approximately 1.28 billion people logging on each day, according to official Facebook statistics (as at March 2017).

Facebook is skewed more towards a male user base, with 56% of users declared as male and 44% as female, and 18-24 year olds making up the largest age group of active users.

While it’s free to set up a Facebook page for your business, to establish cut-through you’ll need to pay to boost or sponsor posts so that they reach your target audience. The upshot of this is that you can target very specific audiences through Facebook advertising, from gender to location, age and interests.

Even though Facebook is by far the most popular social media platform, consider that it is a competitive space and may be more challenging for your brand to cut through the noise.

Twitter

As a social media platform, Twitter has far less users than Facebook (313 million active users as of June 2016), but it attracts a younger, more intelligent and tech-savvy crowd, with a higher income bracket.

If your product or service is information-based, such as a blog, multimedia or news site, you should definitely be on Twitter.

Although, be aware that Twitter is all about timeliness – you’ll lose credibility if you’re posting news long after it has broken, and a day is a long time in the Twittersphere.

Instagram

As a photography and short video platform, Instagram is great if your product or service is visual and aspirational. With 700 million users, as at April 2017, Instagram is a rapidly growing social media platform.

According to Sprout Social, Instagram has a higher female user base, with 38% being women and 26% being men.

The platform attracts a young, wealthy and urban demographic – 18 to 29 year olds make up the platform’s largest age demographic.

If your target market is predominantly a young, urban female, your brand will be well suited to Instagram.

LinkedIn

Known as the largest social media platform for professionals (500 million registered users), LinkedIn has more male users than female.

Sprout Social cites that the platform’s two largest age demographic groups are 18 – 29 year olds (34%) and 30 – 49 year olds (33%). Almost half (45%) of the platform’s users earn an income of $75,000 or more.

While LinkedIn’s user demographic has traditionally leaned more towards an older age group, the platform is interestingly attracting a younger audience. LinkedIn reports that more than 40 million students and recent college graduates are on the platform, and is the fastest-growing demographic. That’s something to consider when thinking about the audience you want to target.

Pinterest

Described as a “catalogue of ideas”, Pinterest allows users to find, save or ‘pin’ images and other media to boards. It’s great for creating visual storyboards and popular categories include fashion, food and homewares.

Almost half (45%) of Pinterest’s users are female, according to data from the Pew social media report. The biggest age group using the platform is aged 18 – 29, followed closely by those in the 30 – 49 age range.

If your brand is highly visual and you’d like to target a predominantly female audience that lives in urban and suburban areas, then Pinterest may be a good fit for your brand.

YouTube

Video sharing platform YouTube attracts 1.3 billion users and is the third most visited website in the world.

While there’s a common perception that the average user is a young, single male, a 2016 Neilsen report shows that 50% of YouTube’s audience is female and users are more likely to have a college degree compared to the general population.

This 2017 FortuneLords report shows the two biggest age demographics that use YouTube are in the 35 – 44 age bracket (26%) and the 25 – 34 age bracket (23%).

By contrast, this AdWeek report states that 95% of Generation Z (those born roughly between 1996 and 2010, and currently up to the age of 21) uses YouTube and “can’t live without out”. These digital natives also use YouTube as their primary social media channel to source how-to information, news and shopping recommendations.

YouTube offers a valuable platform for video case studies, interviews, and product or service overviews.

Snapchat

This image and multimedia messaging platform allows users to interact instantaneously through the mobile application. The platform has 150 million global users, with four million active daily users in Australia.

According to this AdNews article, data shows that the largest Australian audience on Snapchat is aged 18 – 24 (31%), followed by 25 – 34 year olds (28%), 13 – 17 year olds (23%) and 35+ (18%).

If you want to reach a young and tech-savvy audience, Snapchat may be a suitable social media platform for your brand.

Facebook is taking a stand against fake news stories and hoaxes shared on the social media platform.

The move comes in response to the 2016 US election, after many claimed fake news stories spread on social media unethically influenced the result.

While Facebook is largely a social tool, the majority of people get their daily headlines over a quick scan of the news feed – and it is easy to click ‘share’ without checking any of the facts.

Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg’s announcement about flagging fake news made a clear distinction between hoaxes and content that “gets the basic idea right but some details wrong or omitted”.

“An even greater volume of stories express an opinion that many will disagree with and flag as incorrect even when factual… I believe we must be extremely cautious about becoming arbiters of truth ourselves,” his statement read.

While it’s a complicated issue, some of the moves introduced include methods to report a hoax if you suspect one in a story you see on Facebook.

It's important to cross-check facts to verify that news and information is true.

It's important to cross-check facts to verify that news and information is true.

One of the more crucial moves the social media giant is making is introducing third-party fact checking tools for disputed stories.

If the fact-checking organisation identifies the story as fake, Facebook will then flag the story as ‘disputed’.

While it will still be possible to share these stories, they will carry a red flag and can neither be promoted nor made into an advertisement.

Facebook is also testing and researching ways to prevent fake news stories from being shared on the social platform by tracking spoof sites and analysing publisher sites.

On Facebook, fake news will also be made less visible in news feeds and disrupt the financial incentives of fake news spreaders.

The importance of fact checking in the face of the US election has filtered down to journalism courses and major news organisations in Australia.

Australia’s public broadcaster ABC and Melbourne-based university RMIT are relaunching their Fact Check Unit, which will hold public figures such as politicians to account with online updates including Fact Checks, Fact Files and a Promise Tracker.

The Fact Check Unit was shut down in 2016 due to Federal Government budget cuts, but relaunches this month.

Dean of RMIT’s School of Media and Communication, Martyn Hook, said the Fact Check Unit aimed to reduce the levels of deception and confusion around public policy issues and debates.

“In a time of ‘post-truth’, ‘alternative facts’ and ‘fake news’, it is ever more critical to hold public figures to account and ensure that public discourse — the basis of democracy — is based in fact,” Prof Hook said.

When was the last time you watched a video on social media in complete silence?

It was probably this morning when you woke up and scrolled through your Facebook or Instagram feed on your phone, stumbled upon a video and wanted to watch it without making any noise. Or perhaps it was during your commute to or from work – again, you watched on in silence so not to disturb fellow passengers or draw attention from them.

Whatever the circumstance, silent video is on the rise.

Is this growing trend due to the autoplay feature on Facebook and Instagram, and the ability to mute sound on Snapchat videos, or a user preference? Perhaps a mix of all of the above.

Speaking at the 2016 Interactive Minds Digital Summit in Melbourne, Director of Audience Development at TechCrunch, Travis Bernard, said few users turned on the sound when watching videos.

“As much as 85 per cent of videos on Facebook are watched without sound,” he said.

And you may have noticed that brands are jumping on the bandwagon and finding new ways to deliver video content that conforms to this silent trend.

More and more videos on Facebook now include explanatory captions or subtitles as a way to captivate users quickly, even in a silent environment.

Mr Bernard said TechCrunch had adopted this approach and that captions were key to their video strategy.

As mobile, social media and video content continues to increase, it’s no wonder users are gravitating toward the autoplay feature. It makes it easier to absorb video content as a user scrolls through their social media feed because when the sound is muted, the disruption is minimal.

But this is not to say that you should ignore sound in video altogether – some platforms, such as YouTube, play videos with sound by default. Rather, pay attention to the platform and tailor your video content to suit the way users prefer to consume it.

Silent film

Why silent video should be part of your marketing mix

When you create video content specific to the platform, your efforts will be rewarded because you’re putting your audience first. For Facebook, users don’t have to turn on the volume to enjoy videos and a constraint of the platform is that videos autoplay silently in the news feed.

To make the experience engaging for Facebook users, consider tailoring your video to perform well on this platform – upload it directly to Facebook rather than sharing the same video from YouTube, use striking visuals and include descriptive text or subtitles. Think of tailoring your video content to suit Facebook’s user trends as one part of your social media strategy.

As marketers, it’s vital to pay attention to consumer behaviour and work within the limitations of specific marketing channels or, in this case, social media platforms. There’s no denying that consumer behaviour drives marketing so as user attention shifts, so too should your approach to content creation.

Since its inception, Facebook users have changed their behaviour a great deal – from simple text updates, to a strong focus on imagery and now silent video dominating the platform.

What will come next? Only time will tell. But, for now, it seems silence is golden.

“See the moments you care about first” – that’s Instagram’s value proposition regarding its new algorithm update. But how will it hold up and what will it mean for users and marketers?

Since the social media platform launched in 2010, Instagram has seen continual growth in its user base, which now stands at 400 million worldwide, of which five million are Australian (SocialMediaNews, 2015). Although this rapid growth in users has seen Instagram jump to the eighth most popular social network, its popularity has also presented a problem.

In 2014, the average Instagram user followed approximately 250 accounts, whereas that number has now doubled to 500 accounts. This means that, back in 2014, Instagram users would see about 75% of organic posts by the accounts they followed. As the number of followed accounts increased, the percentage of content that users were seeing began to drop to about 50% by 2015. This meant users were potentially missing out on content that mattered to them most, so something had to be done.

“If your brand can successfully play in these spaces you’ll continue to win with this algorithm update because it will favour more of what users like”.

Following in the footsteps of Facebook

In order for a social media platform to maintain its user base and drive engagement it needs to ensure it delivers a high quality user experience. This means tailoring the experience to each individual so they’re served content that’s most relevant to them, and that’s exactly what Facebook did.

In 2009, Facebook launched its first newsfeed algorithm, EdgeRank, in order to combat low quality content such as click-bait articles that were saturating Facebook users’ newsfeeds. The algorithm incorporated three main factors for serving content:

  1. Affinity – the relevance between the user and the content creator
  2. Weight – the weight of the content
  3. Decay – how long ago the content was created.

However, in 2011 the algorithm was scrapped because the factors it used to sort content were not complex enough to handle the rapid growth of the platform. In 2013, Facebook introduced a more complex algorithm that doesn’t have an official catchy name but is still often referred to as EdgeRank. This new system uses a machine-learning algorithm to serve content to people’s newsfeeds based on content they’re more likely to engage with. The algorithm is still used today and is one of the primary reasons Facebook is still the most used social media platform. Based on Instagram’s latest announcement, it will adopt a similar algorithm to Facebook to remain relevant to its users.

Facebook EdgeRank

The simplified version of Facebook's now-retired EdgeRank algorithm.

What Instagram’s algorithm means for users

Instagram currently uses a chronological system for sorting posts on user’s feeds. The new algorithm will instead use a more complex system, similar to Facebook, where the posts that appear in feeds will be based on the likelihood of the user being interested in it, the relationship the user has with the content creator (person or brand) and the timeliness of the post. Instagram gave the following example in their blog:

“If your favourite musician shares a video from last night’s concert, it will be waiting for you when you wake up, no matter how many accounts you follow or what time zone you live in”.

This won’t all happen straight away. The algorithm will be rolled out in a drip-feed manner to all users, with Instagram stating that they will be actively monitoring user feedback.

What Instagram’s algorithm means for marketers

Marketers who use Instagram will notice that certain industries or interests perform exceptionally well such as fashion, food and fitness. Jill Sherman, Senior Vice President of social media strategy at DigitasLBi, said: “If your brand can successfully play in these spaces you’ll continue to win with this algorithm update because it will favour more of what users like”.

If these topics or interests don’t relate to your customers or your brand, don’t fret. As long as you create quality content that your users engage with, your reach and engagement will be unscathed. That said, there’s no guarantee Instagram won’t go down the Facebook route of being a pay-to-play space. Marketers will need to be prepared that it may turn into an advertising-focused platform in the future. This shouldn’t scare marketers off though – those willing to pay to create quality content should be willing to spend a little extra to promote it.

Looking ahead

All that’s left to do now is wait for Instagram to implement its algorithm, monitor the changes and repurpose social media strategies and tactics to move in line with the requirements of the algorithm. Those owning the social media space with great content should stay the course, fine-tune tactics and reach their audiences without a hassle.

Ready to elevate your business?

We love meeting exciting, new people. Whether you need help with a one-off project or are looking for a long-term partnership, get in touch and lets have a chat.

Simply fill in the form below, or just give us a call on +61 3 9079 2555:

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

Are you an Assemblo insider?

Would you love to get a short monthly email with the latest trends, news, marketing insights and some of our awesome work thrown in for good measure? Yes? Then sign-up below for a monthly update.

Your privacy is important – you can read our privacy policy here.

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.