The Rise of Microcontent

Contributing Editor:
Sasha Kai Parker,
Project Manager


With the Tribeca Film Festival adding Snapchat Shorts as an official festival category, brands herald the era of micro-content.

In 2016, the Tribeca Film Festival debuted a Snapchat Shorts contest, encouraging users of the popular mobile social platform to submit humorous videos that are 200 seconds or less. For 2017, Tribeca took this one step further by declaring Snapchat Shorts an official festival submission category, signifying to the rest of us that micro-video had arrived as a storytelling force. 

The rise of micro-video—video content with a run time of 200 seconds or less—has been relatively swift, largely due to the early efforts of semi-defunct mobile app Vine. In just a few short years, the content has gone from fleeting clips of teen pranksters to narrative stories told in short form. Put another way, the micro-video of 2016 is much more evolved and nuanced than its 6-second predecessors.

Snapchat’s Stories feature and Instagram’s carbon copy feature of the same name, give users the tools to capture, edit and share their best private moments in a very public manner. But, many brands have struggled with making the transition to micro-video. Not only because connecting with users in an authentic way in 2 minutes or less is difficult, but also because micro video's mobile-first presence presents real challenges for larger brands whose social teams rely on 3rd-party web apps to manage their social media platforms.  

Luckily for you, we’ve put together a few risk-free tips on how to get into the micro-video game:

Start with good content. This first step may seem intuitive, but you’d be surprised how many times brands fail here. Your success on Snapchat or Instagram Stories is largely reliant on your ability to create good content that allows users to connect with the essence of your brand. Don’t focus on selling or promoting. It’s about establishing a rapport with users and establishing your brand’s personality and tone. What better way to do that than a few short videos detailing the adventures of the office dogs, or a series on your cool philanthropic efforts? 

The power of a mid-level vouch. The rise of online review culture means users are no longer reliant on experts to make purchase decisions. Instead, they prefer to get advice from people they identify with or who reflect their values. In short, mid-level influencers offer users a level of authenticity and transparency that the Kim Kardashians, or other celebrities with large followings, do not. Mid-level influencers also offer higher rates of engagement, and wider distribution as their fees tend to be significantly lower than celebrity influencers, allowing you to stretch those marketing dollars even farther. Start small with a few influencer-generated posts, or jump right in and do an influencer social media takeover. Either way, this will only up your micro-video clout.

Video economies of scale. The “Discover” section of Snapchat presents a unique opportunity for brands to leverage the power of micro-video while establishing relationships with users. This isn’t cat videos or other random internet ephemera. The content of Snap’s “Discover” section is carefully curated and high-quality. So much so that Snapchat prefers to think of these programs as “Shows.” 
If you’re a content-heavy brand, this section also presents an easy opportunity to surface your content catalog to a larger audience. 

Sponsor content. While we’re on the subject of Snapchat shows, sponsoring content is another great way to reach wider audiences. The content doesn’t have to be directly related to your brand either. Consider the Snapchat debut of BBC’s Planet Earth II, sponsored by Goldman Sachs. Yes, you read that correctly. Planet Earth sponsored by Goldman Sachs. Although it may seem like these two are unlikely bedfellows, Goldman Sachs is helping the BBC re-imagine its traditional content for micro-video, and reaping the engagement benefits along the way by running Snap Ads in the Planet Earth episodes. For brands that have the budget, content sponsorship is the way to go, and with so many of the tech giants scrambling to generate mobile-first, original content, there are sure to be endless opportunities for content sponsorship on the horizon.

As with any new marketing trend, evaluate the needs of your audience and how your brand relates to those needs. Start small and don't dismiss any options without thorough research. If your audience is telling their life story through micro-content, then make sure your brand is a part of that narrative.

You have 200 seconds. Go!


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