It looks like the social media powerhouses will change posting formats in the immediate future, though whether this is to improve the actual user experience or to maximize marketing potential remains a matter of debate.
I’m sure you’ve heard the expression “snackable content,” right? In case you haven’t, snackable content refers to sharing of short form, “bite-sized” media that we can take in quickly without paying them much individual attention. They were inspired by social media and the way we create a Facebook post, a tweet, post a photo to Instagram. The content that we’ve been sharing on social media is “snackable” in and of itself. Marketing and advertising agencies looked at our Facebook and Instagram posts and decided to insert their own “posts” into our social media feeds, and thus snackable marketing content was born.
However, our web habits are changing. At the onset of the age of over-sharing, we tended toward frequent posts that were short and not very meaningful; a picture here, a couple sentences there, checking in at the movies or restaurant nearby. They were short-and-sweet, snackable posts that were also very forgettable. Over time, though, we’ve begun wanting to share even more. Or maybe just differently.
I wish I could post more than one photo to Twitter or Instagram at a time.
Wouldn’t it be great if we could do more with a Facebook post?
The social media powers-that-be have been observing the way our interactions on and with social media have evolved. After so much time of posting quantity, we’re now wanting quality. Social media users want the ability to create and share more meaningful content with better tools for visual storytelling.
When we view our social media feeds, we notice that the majority of the content we see is quickly dismissed. We quickly scroll through pictures and short posts that we can absorb without devoting too much of our time and energy. It doesn’t take long before you’ve scrolled back through several days’ worth of our friends’ and connections’ content. And the majority of the content that we see or post is forgettable. In fact, there are apps designed to show you some of your old posts (re: Timehop) and seeing the forgotten content can be more exciting than it was to share in the first place.
Instagram recently announced a new feature: Carousel-style photos connected like an album, but contained in a single post in the Instagram feed. At a glance, this new feature won’t look very different from the Instagram feed you scroll through now. The difference will be that when a user has uploaded multiple photos, you will be able to swipe side-to-side on a photo in the feed to scroll through the photos like you would a photo album on many other apps. The carousel will only be used by advertisers in the beginning, but it’s only a matter of time before it gets rolled out to all Instagram users.
This move toward giving users the potential for higher-quality posting indicates a trend of expanding “snackable content” into something with more narrative potential. With blogging being the opposite end of the spectrum giving users a medium for sharing long-form content, what exactly is in the middle?
The answer, of course, is micro-blogging.
Micro-blogging is a format that rests square in between short-form “snackable” content and blogging. It’s small in size and length (even file size), but it’s different from blogging in that the content consists of shorter amounts of text, shorter videos, or a small batch of photos. It’s been called equal parts of social media, blogging, instant messaging, and text messaging, but you might also visualize it in two ways: It’s like trying to cram more substance into short tweet-size posts, or like you’re trying to make videos, blogs, and other long-form posts shorter, more accessible, and quicker to read in the vain of Vine. These types of posts are usually referred to as microposts.
Another area where micro-blogging represents a hybridization of snackable content and traditional blogging is in the topics commonly featured in microposts. It can be along the lines of “what I’m doing right now” and “what I’m thinking,” or it can be more thematic in nature, covering specific topics like a blog post or a short article.
Some consider sites like Twitter or Facebook to be micro-blogging. Facebook could be considered a micro-blogging medium since posts can be quite large and contain several photos, but to be considered microposts they must be contained within a single post. With users now able to create and share long-form posts, LinkedIn could be considered a micro-blogging platform as well. The length restrictions on tweets and posts on Instagram mean that to micro-blog, the micropost would consist of several individual posts.
However, there’s buzz at Twitter concerning a new way of posting photos. According to Twitter, users will soon be allowed to tweet more than one photo in a single tweet, moving in the micro-blogging direction like Instagram appears to be doing.
The fact of the matter is that micro-blogging isn’t exactly revolutionary. It’s been around for quite some time via various little-known platforms. It’s the big social media names like Instagram and Twitter moving toward this micro-blogging trend that’s making people take notice of these changes. There are two micro-blogging platforms, though both are currently for iOS only, that have accumulated quite an underground following: Steller and Storehouse.