Don’t be surprised if social media powerhouses start introducing new content creation tools for users. Although there’s a lot to like about this new micro-blogging trend, whether it improves the user experience or is simply a way for companies to enhance their marketing campaigns is a matter of debate.
By now, you’ve probably heard the expression “snackable content“. But if you haven’t, it refers to short-form, bite-sized media that can be taken in quickly. The reader doesn’t have to give any individual piece of content a lot of attention.
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How We Use Social Media
Snackable content is derived from the way we use social networks like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. It’s a product of our mobile-first world in which iPhones and Android devices are the primary tools with which we access our social media timelines and news feeds. So most of the content we share on these networks is designed for on-the-go consumption.
“Advertising companies have been analyzing how we use social media. As our behavior evolved, they started inserting their own snackable content into our feeds.”
Yet our web habits are continuously changing. At the beginning of the era of social media, we erred toward over-sharing. Our posts were frequent and lacked emotional value. Although our content was similarly snackable, those posts were utterly forgettable. Then over time, our values changed and we started to share differently.
At a point, it became desirable to share more than one photo in a single Instagram post, and to shed the “[User] is…” prefix from Facebook status updates so we had more flexibility. It wasn’t that we necessarily wanted to post longer content; rather, we wanted to post better content. And the social media powers-that-be accommodated our ever-shifting proclivities.
“Most content in our feeds is quickly dismissed.”
We started to get better tools for visual storytelling, giving us the chance to create and share more meaningful content. And yet most of the content in our feeds gets quickly dismissed, barely even appearing on our screens before fading into obscurity. This has led to the creation of apps (like Timehop) designed to highlight older posts that got overlooked.
In keeping with the desire for quality, Instagram announced the new carousel-style posting. These posts put photos together like an album that’s contained in a single post in the Instagram feed. Then users can swipe side-to-side to scroll through the photos. To start, carousel posts are only available to advertisers, but the feature will eventually reach all Instagram users.
It’s this type of move that suggests another step in the evolution of content creation and sharing. With so many tools for creating, we may see users sharing content that’s less snackable and more narrative. Something in-between a brief tweet or Facebook post and actual blogging, which is for sharing long-form content. But what exactly is in the middle?
The answer is micro-blogging.
What is Micro-Blogging?
Micro-blogging is a type of content that’s halfway between snackable and long-form blogging. Micro-blogs are small in size and length (and even file size). It’s often said to be equal parts social media, blogging, instant messaging, and text messaging.
There are a couple of ways to approach micro-blogging. One way is that it’s like expanding short tweet-size posts. Or you could say that micro-blogging is the condensing videos, blogs, and other long-form posts, making them shorter, more accessible, and quicker to read. This type of post is usually referred to as a micro-post.
“Micro-blogging topics are more thematic with a level of depth that’s comparable to blog posts and articles.”
Although it’s a hybrid form of content, micro-blogging is slightly more similar to blogging than extremely short content like tweets and status updates. That’s because the topics covered in microblogs are often thematic in nature. When it comes to depth, microblogging produces content that’s comparable to blog posts and articles.
Facebook has some characteristics consistent with a micro-blogging platform. For instance, we can share long-ish posts with multiple images. But to be micro-posts, the content needs to be continuous. It may seem like a technicality, but it’s the difference between a tweet with an attached image and a blog post that has embedded images.
LinkedIn is another social network that shares similarities with a micro-blogging platform since users can create and share long-form posts. However, LinkedIn is closer to traditional blogging than micro-blogging. Instagram is probably the closest to micro-blogging of the major social network although the text and media in Instagram posts aren’t continuous either.
Micro-Blogging & Its Implications
So where are the micro-blogging platforms?
As it turns out, they’re not as uncommon as you might think. Even though it’s only recently started to trend, micro-blogging has been around as a sub-feature of a number of other services for a while. And now that the major social networks move toward this micro-blogging trend, more people are taking notice.
Steller is the more popular of the two and has been labeled an “addictive” way to view others’ content. The app lets you create a visual story using your photos and videos with a focus on the design and style of your story. The app’s main strength is its focus on mobile use.
In fact, Steller’s mobile app is the main way to access and use the platform. So instead of having to use a browser, users can create and upload stories almost in real-time. (There’s a brief introduction video here.)
The bottom line is that the way we create and share content has evolved. We crave new tools to do our storytelling and to create something memorable. Whereas sharing used to be a race, we’ve become focusing more on what our posts contain rather than how many we’re putting out.
Micro-blogging also has implications for marketing. In fact, you needn’t look far to find companies — like Urban Outfitters, for example — taking advantage of this trend. And with the way we use social media continuing to change, companies marketing on social media will need to dig deeper and show more creativity. Because people respond to content with which they have a meaningful (or emotional) connection. Even when we spend little time on a given post, meaningful stories and vivid imagery stay with us.
Posting to social media used to be about documenting our every thought, activity, and picture, and other users would quickly scroll by without remembering much of anything about them. This next phase of content sharing, micro-blogging, will facilitate much deeper connections.
What do you think about the future of content sharing and micro-blogging?