When it comes to social media, let’s face it, it’s really easy to do stuff.
We’ve all been there. Whether it’s tweeting, posting a photo on Instagram, publishing updates to Facebook or LinkedIn, are we doing so with purpose, or are we just doing stuff, merely filling the pipes of our organisation’s social channels?
This is certainly a pertinent question for any business or organisation that uses social media to communicate with their customers or constituents. But it can also pertain to an individual if they’re keen to position their ‘professional self’ accurately in the marketplace.
What we publish to our social channels — micro-content — can have a tremendous impact on how people perceive, and ultimately interact with your brand.
Micro-content might be 'small' but in aggregate it can be 'big'. That’s why we need to think more strategically and creatively about the micro-content we produce, not in isolation, but as a broader body of work.
While it’s always possible you might create impact with a one-off bit of content, this is most likely the exception to the rule. But if you can consistently publish micro-content that threads together and over time builds upon your organisation’s public-facing narrative, you’ll be better placed to not only attract an audience, but also inspire people and influence them in some way.
This takes thoughtful planning
- What are your ‘spheres of conversation’?
- What public conversations do you want to participate in, or lead?
- What debates do you want to ignite?
- What do you want to be known for?
- What are your ‘flags in the ground’?
- What major themes do you have in mind when you create content?
As the battle for people’s attention heats up, it’s incumbent on brands to become crystal clear as to what their narrative looks like, and then publishing content that reflects that. Anything else will muddy the waters and potentially confuse the marketplace.
Strategic micro-content can take many forms, including:
- VIDEO that clocks in at two minutes and under; this is the province of social media channels such as Facebook, Twitter (its upload limit is 140 seconds), Instagram (60-second limit) and Snapchat (10 seconds); at time of writing you couldn't upload directly to LinkedIn, but linking to YouTube works fine.
- SOCIAL MEDIA ‘TILES’ consisting of an image featuring an overlay of a line or two of text; it could just be a quote, a big stat or pithy statement.
- AUDIO via an app such as SoundCloud, Clammr or Anchor that can easily be embedded and played in social channels; this could be a snippet (think: ‘digital breadcrumbs’) that lead back to longer-form content or a standalone riff that moves the brand story forward.
- TEXT, CHART OR GRAPH that can tell a story succinctly; of course a social media headline to an image plus accompanying text can all contribute to the story.
My current favourite is video
There's no doubt that producing content is a terrific way to humanise your organisation (or in the case of individuals, making your personal brand more accessible to the public).
But video is perhaps the most effective of all the mediums in this regard because it lets people ‘see the whites of your eyes’.
As I write this article, it’s at the end of a week in which the content-driven PR firm I run with Dionne Lew, Zoetic Agency, produced over 60 micro-videos for three of our clients across a day and a half. It was a big undertaking for all concerned, but it has provided us with three months’ worth of content for each client, to be drip-fed through their respective social channels.
We feel that bulk producing content - whether video or other formats - is perhaps the most effective way to ensure that what’s created has a consistent thread.
Our thinking is that by doing stuff one-off all the time, it’s much easier to lose track and therefore the body-of-work consistency that’s required to feed narrative.
Personally, I think it can be really challenging for an organisation to knit together enough micro-content over time that not only reflects their brand, but also effectively conveys their brand story and message. This content needs to not only work as a standalone, but also in unison with other content that’s created.
Understanding your goals, your ‘spheres of conversation’ and content themes, plus the type of impact you’re trying to achieve, need to be factored in.
Then it’s a case of producing enough micro-content that will help you achieve all that.
In the end, I think it will be worth it.