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Content marketing may seem like a fad of the digital world; a trend that comes and dies just like others. However, it is not. Brands realized the importance of content marketing way back in the 19th century. Yes, the history of content marketing is 122 years old.

The humble beginning of old-school content marketing can be traced back to 1895 when John Deere launched The Furrow magazine. The aim of the magazine was not to sell John Deere’s products; instead, it was published for farmers to help improve their businesses and make their properties more profitable. The magazine managed to build a relationship with farmers that no other brand could and managed to gain 4 million subscribers by 1912.

Some other notable initiatives include The Michelin Guide that was launched in 1900. The guide’s purpose was to assist drivers on how to maintain their vehicles and inform them about the best places to eat and stay while traveling. The guide is still famous, and restaurants vie to be a part of Michelin ratings.

In 1904, Kraft foods came up with Jell-O recipe collections that include its products. The first publication reached $1 million in sales within just two years.

Content marketing first moved online with the introduction of Microsoft’s corporate blog in 1998. Soon after, many brands started adopting this strategy. In 2005, LiveVault created a video targeting IT managers. It was before YouTube entered the picture and yet the video was downloaded 280,000 times.

Today, content marketing has no doubt evolved considerably. However, the objective is still the same: to foster deeper relationships with customers by informing, educating, and helping them. Today, marketers face the challenge of standing out in the crowded field of content marketing, where companies, brands, and individuals are continually creating massive content in all niches.

Moreover, today content is not about long articles and magazines. Instead, it is about hashtags, acronyms, videos, vines and 140 characters tweets. This new phenomenon is termed as micro-content. It is shared with consumers daily to keep the conversation going. Micro-content can be centered on different moments such as events, new products or any other topic.

For obtaining the most out of these conversations, your brand must create quality content on a regular basis. The example of Lowe’s Fix in Six campaign is quite relevant here. Lowe, a home improvement retailer, released a series of six-second videos that helped people improve their homes. Lowe put only $5000 in the campaign but reaped enormous benefits. The campaign garnered 15 million impressions and lots of social mentions. The vine became popular overnight with 30,000 followers and 40 million loops. The success of the campaign shows how compelling micro-content, that is appealing and educational, increases engagement at such low costs.

According to Gallup, engaged customers increase profitability by 23%. Hence, engaged customers will not only drive sales but also improve the brand image.

Since content marketing is an ever-evolving field, marketers need to keep updated with the upcoming trends to leverage it. Here are some micro-content techniques that you can utilize in 2018.

1. Micro Video

The future of content marketing extensively relies on videos. Online video will account for 85% of the internet traffic by 2019. People prefer videos because they are easier to watch, less time consuming, and are engaging. However, with the introduction of platforms such as Vine that allowed brands to connect with its customers through 6-15 seconds videos, the trend today is shifting towards micro-video. Although Vine is gone, similar platforms such as Snapchat and Instagram stories have taken its place.

In 2016, the Tribeca Film Festival started Snapchat Shorts contest, where it encouraged users to submit humorous videos of 200 seconds or less. In 2017, it made Snapchat Shorts official submission category, announcing to the world that the era of micro video content has arrived.

The reason why brands and marketers love micro-video is due to high return on investments. As compared to traditional videos, micro videos are easier to produce. Plus, since they are easier to watch, it increases the chances that your audience will view the video in its entirety and will connect with the brand and act on the call-to-action. Ben & Jerry’s successfully leveraged micro video and managed to show how to make delicious ice cream sandwich within 15 seconds only.

You may feel a bit overwhelmed with these videos. However, the beauty of micro video is that you can create dozens with your existing content. The best way to use micro-video content is to segment your audience so you can target them according to their interests.

2. Micro influencers

The objective behind micro-content is increased engagement. Influencer marketing has been gaining traction for some time now. Brands have been reaching out to famous people on various social media channels to promote their products.

However, brands often ignore micro influencers. Research shows that user engagement is at its peak when an account has around 1000 followers. Influencers with about 1000 followers received likes 8% of the time, while users with more than 10 million users received likes only 1.6% of the time. It shows that micro influencers have more power than macro influencers.

Micro influencers are useful because they already have an audience and have built a relationship with them through their stories. Hence, when they share about a brand, the audience is already willing to listen. A Survey shows that 40% of the people purchased due to a direct tweet from a micro influencer. 20% of the people also said that a tweet from an influencer inspired them to share a product recommendation on Twitter.

For achieving an optimum level of return on investment, a brand should hire multiple micro-influencers. For this, a brand should look through its followers to see who is willing to tell the brand story. Brands can then send samples to them so that they can try and post photos on their social media accounts. Micro-influencers are ideal when a brand doesn’t have enough budget to work with a celebrity.

3. Stackable content

It is highly probable that your target audience is using multiple platforms at once, which makes it harder to grab their attention and retain it. In fact, studies show that the average attention span has dropped from 12 seconds to 8 seconds— lesser than a goldfish.

Hence, the challenge is to grab the audience’s attention within this short span, and for which, marketers need to create compelling stackable content. Stackable content includes second-screen experience like The Walking Dead Sync app and game apps with short but addictive gameplay.

L’Oreal recently came up with Makeup Genius App that uses advanced facial recognition technology and allows users to apply makeup and try Loreal products virtually. Users can also share results with their friends and family on Facebook. The app is unique because it captures 64 data points and reads 100 facial expressions. The app proved to be quite successful as it generated 260 million virtual product trials and 1.4 million app downloads.

4. GIFs

Steve Wilhite introduced the term GIF in 1987. It is a short-term for Graphics Interchange Format and is a new way to present a moving image. It is an animation without any sound. Thanks to Tumblr, GIFs have become an internet sensation. When compared to photos, Gifs are more appealing and engaging.

They are also better than videos in the sense that it takes less effort to create them. Gifs provide excellent entertainment value, and people love sharing them. According to Forbes, Giphy recently crossed 100 million users who send 1 billion GIFs every day. That is huge!

Recently, brands have realized the commercial value of GIFs. According to Giphy’s CEO, Alex Chung, “the average GIF contains sixty frames, then they’re capable of conveying 60,000 words – the same as the average novel.”

Many brands are already using GIFs to drive engagement. Coca-Cola recently asked its fans to create their GIFs which were then shared on its website, resulting in an increased traffic and user engagement. Kate Spade also introduced its new handbag collection Joanie via a GIF that showed the entire collection in one place.

5. Curated Content

To manage the hassle of creating a lot of content daily, marketers can use a combination of original and curated content. Curating content does not mean copying other people; it merely implies that you are bringing all the relevant content to your audience in one place. It is impossible for anyone to consume all the content related to a topic and hence you are doing the hard work for your customers.

To leverage curated content, you need to stay updated on what is happening in your industry. Tools such as Scoop.it allow you to create your topic pages within minutes with curated content. Also, it automatically feeds your social networks with the content you create.

While sharing curated content, try to dig for underground material that is not easily accessible. When you share content that nobody has seen, you become the go-to place to find the best content.

6. Infographics

If you want to highlight yourself among the crowd and convey the benefits of your products in an impactful way, you can opt for infographics. Research shows that infographics can increase web traffic by 12%.

Infographics immediately grab audience attention and retain engagement. Also, in a survey, 42% of the marketers reported that infographics and other graphics drive the most engagement. Instead of including all kinds of data in the newsletter, include only a few that matter. As for the design, keep it minimalistic and add lots of white space to make the data points prominent.

Many brands are already leveraging infographics. For instance, Coca-Cola shared a timeline of its product development and logo.

coco-colaSource:Image Source

7. Multichannel Approach

While it is necessary to share a consistent message across all media channels, you need to be aware of the negatives and positives of each channel and tweak your message accordingly. If you post the same message in the same way across all channels, it is likely to be ignored. Each platform has a different user base and style. While you can simply share a video or photo on Instagram, for Facebook you can combine it with a compelling heading and description.

The objective of micro-content is to engage your customers on a daily basis. To stand out from the crowd, you need to have a carefully crafted strategy. First and foremost, you need to know everything about your target audience. You should know what your audience beliefs and ideologies are, followed by grabbing their attention through educating, inspiring or entertaining them in some way. Remember, it is not only about selling your product but also satisfying the needs of your customers.

Make your content short and share it often so that you can become a part of your audience’s daily routine. Since your audience is mostly busy and constantly switching between multiple apps, you need grab attention in the shortest time with less content.

Build a schedule to share your snackable content. The goal of any marketing strategy is to increase your bottom. Although content marketing is all about helping your customer and enhancing your brand loyalty, once in a while, you can include a call to action. Content marketing is all about keeping your brand in front of your customers by building credibility.

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