May 18, 2015
Micro-content can make you famous. It’s true. That’s how Megan Amram, a former Parks and Recreation writer, got her job. She, and many others, used their Twitter presence to garner the attention of the Hollywood bigwigs who then hired them.
What’s Micro-Content All About? Let’s Ask Hollywood’s Writers
People have used social media platforms to land book deals, comedy gigs, speaking engagements, and many other things that all of us wish we could get too.
If you want to know if micro-content is something you should care about, just ask Megan Amram or any of the other writers who got their start on Twitter and other social media platforms.
Just in case “something that can make you famous” is not a clear enough definition, let’s get a little more specific. Micro-content is defined by Denise Wakeman as “the status updates, quote images, Vine videos, Instagram photos that grab attention and act as effective lead generators, driving traffic back to your site (when done with a strategic plan in mind).”
Social media marketing is vitally important because people have a whole lot of choices in what to read/buy/do, and they don’t have all day to read/buy/do it. Instead of clicking on every link and reading every long-form blog post or article they see, readers are much more likely to scroll through a feed on a social media site until they find a title that captures their attention. In fact, a study showed that more than 50 percent of browsers stay on a webpage for less than 10 seconds, which means you have less than 10 seconds to make your pitch and convince the reader they want you.
An Example of Why Micro-Content Matters: Broccoli Is Good For You
If you want to see why you should care about micro-content, let’s walk through a hypothetical situation. Pretend you are trying to get people to read your post on several ways broccoli is good for you.
Which do you think people are more likely to click on?
- “What fights cancer, strengthen hearts, and fuels diets all at once? Click to find out. http://www.care2.com/greenliving/love-it-or-hate-it-broccoli-is-good-for-you.html.”
- “Broccoli has lots of nutrients that could improve your health. Learn more here: http://www.care2.com/greenliving/love-it-or-hate-it-broccoli-is-good-for-you.html.”
If you are like me, you are more likely to click on the first link and skip the second, even though both are going to the same place. You might have created the best article about broccoli that has ever been written, but if nobody reads it, then what good does it do you? Getting people to click on your content is the first step in making them want whatever it is you are trying to sell.
For many “Twitter stars,” the product they are selling is themselves. A nobody with a little talent and know-how can gain a massive following and land a book deal or a job writing for Seth Meyers just because of 140-character lines they wrote on Twitter. When used correctly, micro-content can result in similar success stories for businesses.
Two Rules To Create Micro-Content That Catches the Eye
Headlines, opening sentences, sub headings, etc., these are the things that people are going to see as they skim through an article. Similarly, catchy tweets, links, and short ads are what people will see as they are determining whether they even want to skim your article in the first place.
When you are drafting a marketing campaign, it is vital that you recognize this fact.
Rule 1: Your One-Liners and Headlines Matter the Most. In order to be a successful micro-marketer, you need to become a master at crafting eye-catching one-liners and headlines.
An article on WeRockYourWeb.com points out that in dictionary.com’s definition of ‘headline’ it claims that headlines are the most important part of an article, which makes them extra important to get right. The article suggests that one of the ways to create a good headline is to ask yourself what would catch your attention if you happened to see it somewhere instead of writing it yourself.
A good headline is going to be short and interesting. If you cannot make it through the headline without wanting to give up, why would you believe that the full article is going to be more interesting or easier to understand? Three lines-long and/or boring headlines can put you on the wrong footing with your readers from the start.
A good headline will not be overly vague. When you write a headline, you don’t want to give everything away. If all of your main points are right there in the title, there really is no point to read farther. However, you still want to give enough details to tell the potential reader just what is in store for them. If the title does not say what the article is about, or implies that it is about an unrelated topic, people are less likely to read it and more likely not to return if they feel like they have been deceived.
Rule 2: Apply the Above Principles to Your Social. The same principles apply to writing tweets and other social media posts. Intrigue, but don’t spoil or mislead. And once you have taken the time to come up with the quintessential micro-content post for an article, make it easy for your viewers to share by creating a pre-written tweet or tweets that people can use.
Remember: A Picture Is Worth a Thousand Words
When you really want to be eye-catching, you use more than words. You use images. If you only have 10 seconds to make an impression, and a picture is worth 1,000 words, then simple logistics will tell you that you will get a lot more bang for your buck when you successfully incorporate pictures and infographics into your micro-content.
- Images: Adding an image to one of your posts is one of the easiest ways to create a successful micro-campaign. It is likely there is already some visual on the content you are linking to. If so, use it. It is as simple as that. However, even if you don’t have an image up already, adding one to your micro-content is still easy. You can just create an image of an interesting quote from your article or find something relatable that is already being offered in the creative commons hemisphere.
- Videos: You could also make a short, six-second vine video hyping up your article or use one of the many free sources that will help you create an inforgraphic summing up your key points in a visually pleasing manner. Your options are plenty, so there is no reason not to start using this tool today.
Know Your Market, and the Platform Your Market Lives On
In order to successfully appeal to your audience, you need to know your audience. The way you would sell your services to a teenager, for example, is much different than the way you would sell your services to that same teen’s parents. Deciding how formal your micro-content is, what type of humor, if any, you should incorporate, and when your target audience is most likely to be using social media will help you write content that is right for your audience.
Your audience is not the only one you need to consider, though. You also need to think about the audience of the social media platform you are using to grab your potential market. How you craft a status update for LinkedIn, for example, is much different than how you would craft a tweet. A well-rounded micro-content campaign will use multiple platforms, and the techniques used on each chosen platform should take into account the lingo and style of that platform.
Take the time to research things like how many hash tags you should use in a tweet or where to draw the line between making readers feel you are adding valuable content to a related LinkedIn discussion and making them feel like they are being spammed. How you interact in each tool will greatly affect how well you do there.
Make Your Linked Content Worth the Click
You have probably heard the ABCs of sales before: Always be closing. It is not enough to start out strong, you have to be able to finish the job. Do not ignore long-form content in favor of micro-content. The micro-content is what will get you noticed, but it is the long-content that is going to seal the deal.
With the importance of micro-content, it is easy to focus all of your marketing attention on this important concept, and ignore another important tool – good, quality long-form copy.
Your micro-content is not designed to be a stand-alone product, but instead is acting as a lead generator to get people to your full pieces. If people click the link in your tweet, and find boring, poorly-written content with no science to back up its claims, they are less likely to click onto that site again, no matter how enticing the next headline they see is.
Being the world’s best tweeter, status updater, headline writer is all well and good, but it does not mean anything if you don’t have the content to back it up. Write content that is worthy of being read, and that way when people see your catchy micro-content, they will know it is leading to a place they want to go.
Julia McCoy is the founder of Express Writers, a serial content marketer, and bestselling author. A dedicated self-starter since an early age, by age 13, she'd written a 200-page book and taught herself Internet marketing. At 19, Julia dropped out of college and a nursing degree to follow her passion, teach herself online writing, and start her agency. Within two years, Express Writers grew by 400 percent, and today, Julia’s agency serves more than 5,000 clients. Julia is a bestselling author, the creator of The Practical Content Strategy Certification Course, host of the Write Podcast and Twitter Chat #ContentWritingChat. She just published her second bestseller, Practical Content Strategy & Marketing, November 2017.