1 THE VISUAL CONTENT PLAYBOOK FOR SOCIAL MEDIA MARKETING
2 page 2 WELCOME If you ve ever seen snackable memes, bite-sized data visualizations, or inspirational quotes, then you ve seen micro content. Often in the form of a quick video, a chart, or single powerful image, micro content is short-form visual content that is designed to fight information overload. In this guide, featuring interviews with innovative social media marketers at LinkedIn, Whole Foods, and Buffer, we ll show you how to build your own micro content strategy from the ground up. HOW DO WE KNOW ALL THIS STUFF? Read on to learn how this powerful storytelling medium can help your brand stand out, engage audiences, and tell powerful stories. We re Visually, and we help more than 1100 brands and agencies produce highimpact visual content. From micro content to videos and interactive websites, we re dedicated to making it faster, easier, and more affordable to work with world class creatives. But great content with the wrong strategy won t get you anywhere. That s why it s our business to know (and share) the best ways to run effective campaigns.
3 PART 1 WHY MICRO CONTENT MATTERS It s the little details that are vital. Little things make big things happen. John Wooden American basketball player and coach
4 Why Micro Content Matters page 4 COMPETITION FOR AUDIENCES IS VERY, VERY REAL BRING THE NOISE BRAND-GENERATED CONTENT ENGAGEMENT RATES ARE AT AN ALL-TIME LOW The currency of the internet is no longer just clicks as a recent report from Econsultancy points out it s brand awareness, engagement, and conversion. Digital audiences are hungry for the next big learning opportunity or source of entertainment, and your brand has a six-second window of attention span to pique their interests and get them sharing. Recognizing this opportunity, every company on the planet has developed a presence on social. From Facebook to Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, or Pinterest, more and more social media managers are vying for the same eyeballs. -60 % Across 2013 and 2014, the output of content per brand increased by 78%, but content engagement decreased by 60% >10 visits 43% of professionally produced blog posts generate fewer than 10 interactions Source: An analysis of 8,800 brands and 13.8 million pieces of content, across 7 marketing channels and 7.2 billion combined interactions from TrackMaven. As Copyblogger points out, anyone can pick up a smartphone and start tweeting. But the biggest challenge you re facing is also your biggest opportunity. When it comes to digital content, everyone brands, publishers, and individuals is on an equal playing field, which means doing a little more can really set you apart.
5 Why Micro Content Matters page 5 THE BOTTOM LINE: YOU NEED MICRO CONTENT Micro content is one of the most powerful, untapped opportunities in social. Unlike heavyhitting visual content campaigns, snackable videos and gripping images can integrate into your everyday social management to communicate a cohesive, coherent brand story. It gets you noticed, gets shared, and doesn t have to be difficult to produce. Good micro content is a complete thought, inspirational message, and end-to-end experience. It s something that the human brain can process in a few seconds while also leaving a lasting impression. It s a subtle way to reinforce your brand s value proposition and identity. Micro content is also practical. It s efficient to create, economical to produce, and heavyhitting in terms of the ROI and engagement levels that it s able to drive. As we dive into the how, what, and why of micro content, let s take a quick peek at some micro content that really works. Let s get started by looking at some awesome examples from big brands. WHAT EXACTLY IS MICRO CONTENT? Whether in the form of a six-second video or a single powerful image, micro content is short-form content optimized for social media and designed to combat information overload. It typically employs multiple media (writing, static images, video, or audio) to communicate more efficiently than text-based messaging.
6 Awesome Examples page 6 THINK WITH GOOGLE SHOWS OFF SHAREABLE DATA Think with Google has a ton of great data. Its social team communicates insights more effectively by creating a steady pipeline of engaging Twitter content that turns in-depth research studies into snackable, easily digestible micro-stories for its followers (and their followers, too).
7 Awesome Examples page 7 LINKEDIN MAKES CONNECTIONS OUTSIDE THE WORKPLACE LinkedIn uses micro content on its Facebook page to commemorate events and share inspirational messages that are meaningful to its audience. It breaks from the site s frenzy of networking, job hunting, and social marketing to highlight a more human look at working life.
8 Awesome Examples page 8 ART.COM INSPIRES AND ENGAGES AUDIENCES Art.com creates snackable videos on its Facebook Page to make art more relatable to consumers who love DIY and home decor projects. In this case, videos are the perfect medium for sharing detailed information, priming customers for the next big purchase, and getting likes.
9 Why Micro Content Matters page 9 HERE S YOUR PERMISSION SLIP To outsmart the digital noise you re facing, you ll need to make every moment with your audience count. As Gopi Kallayil, chief brand marketing evangelist at Google, points out in an article for the Stanford Graduate School of Business s blog: brand marketing is becoming permission based in the sense that consumers are in control of the marketing materials they choose to see they see. PERMISSION GRANTED Alison Think of micro content as your permission slip. Gaining permission is why you ll see companies like GE launching data visualization hubs, Dove creating socially conscious viral videos, and Williams Sonoma creating shoppable infographic lookbooks. These one-of-a-kind brand experiences, while powerful, are also resource intensive. As heavy-hitters, they re important for reinforcing top-of-funnel awareness and brand engagement, but they re also challenging to replicate on a consistent basis. You need a scalable way to stand out every day. We ll show you how!
10 Spotlight page 10 BUFFER S BUFF CONTENT MARKETING Buffer is an awesome app for driving traffic and increasing engagement on social media. We talked to their Content Crafter, Courtney Seiter, to get some insight about how she uses micro content within Buffer s much-imitated content marketing program: We keep our content at Buffer visually driven by making visuals a constant focus. We ve found that the types of posts that have the most impact for the writer and reader tend to be broad, wellresearched and data-focused pieces, with lots of in-depth examples and hands-on tips including visuals and screenshots to explain any tools and workflows. Often a photo, graphic, or video can tell the story in a much more succinct and impactful way than words can. The biggest driver for all our content at Buffer is to be as helpful as possible. Visuals are such a huge part of that people prefer to learn in all kinds of different ways, and we want everyone who comes to our blogs to be able to dig in deeply and find a lot of value. That means we focus a lot on multiple entry points for each piece, which we create through formatting and a variety of informational visuals. If you ve only got a few seconds to spend on a piece, you can still make those moments count by absorbing a great, information-dense visual.
11 Why Micro Content Matters page 11 WHERE DO YOU STAND? There s an arms race in b2b visual content (for good reason). Visual content was rated among the 70 % top 5 of marketers reported planning to increase the use of original visual assets in 2015 most effective B2B marketing tactics 58 % In 2014, the use of video content increased from 8% to 58%, while the use of infographics increased from 9% to 52%. 86 % of buyers expressed desire to access interactive visual content on demand We look to build relationships throughout the entire customer journey. It s a process that looks different dependent on the part of the organization you look at. For our social team, it s about building relationships with our customers one at a time. Natanya Anderson Global Director of CRM, social media, and customer service at Whole Foods (Source: HubSpot)
12 Why Micro Content Matters page 12 BECAUSE OUR MINDS ARE WIRED VISUALLY Visual content generated 94 % more views Visuals are processed 60,000x faster than text 80 % of the text on most pages does not get read Tweets with images get 150 % more retweets 18% more clicks, and 89% more favorites Visual content is 40x as often as text We retain 80 % of what we see, 20% of what we read, and 10% of we they hear There were 3.6x more video on Facebook News Feeds in 2014 than 2013 (Sources: Buffer, HubSpot)
13 PART 2 PUT MICRO CONTENT TO WORK Everyone is trying to accomplish something big, not realizing that life is made up of the little things. Frank A. Clark American football player
14 Put Micro Content to Work page 14 HOW MICRO CONTENT WORKS Micro content should tell two simultaneous stories. The first is what s contained to the visual: an inspirational message, metric, or compelling trend. The second is what your audiences may not see consciously a tie into your underlying brand promise. As an example, this Think with Google micro content makes an interesting data point memorable through bold color choices, simple icons, and easy-to-digest fonts. It also humanizes Google s reams of data, an asymmetrical egg in the frying pan showing there s a real world behind all of it.
15 Put Micro Content to Work page 15 Sour cream, cayenne USING PHOTOGRAPHY FOR MICRO CONTENT Good micro content should always tell a story. A vivid, poignant photo can be micro content all by itself, but sometimes it needs a little more context to jump out at people and say more than just stock photo. Whole Foods use of videography and photography are a great examples of real world imagery used well. Each visual on the company s Facebook and Twitter feeds present a self-contained story about the food giant s delicious products. By mapping to several larger, overarching themes like health and wellness (definitely not pictured here!) delicious food starts to translate to a full, healthy life, even when chili dogs are involved. It s content that s collectible, inspirational, and reflective of our brand. It has to be more than just a product shot. It has to be about how that product is useful or inspirational. It s about using different multimedia to help our customers feel nourished. Natanya Anderson Global Director of CRM, social media, and customer service at Whole Foods
16 Put Micro Content to Work page 16 MAKING YOUR CONTENT VISUAL The challenge is that most companies don t have high quality photography on hand or even visually driven products, for that matter. If you re part of a B2B company, for instance, it probably doesn t make sense to share pictures of food, beautiful landscapes, or art. Stock photos won t cut it, either. But your company doesn t need to be visually driven to have a visual identity. There are many different techniques for creating aesthetically pleasing, memorable, and impactful experiences. Afterall, the whole world of memes is based on taking somewhat common imagery and adding a little something extra to make it resonate. Here s an example from Whole Foods of how a little text and design can make a less exciting image (and topic, for that matter) a lot more interesting. 89 % of marketers cite micro content as an effective or very effective channel in their strategies Source: Salesforce, 2015 State of Marketing Report
17 Put Micro Content to Work page 17 HOW TO FIND IDEAS FOR CONTENT When it comes to micro content, the idea generation process can be harder than it seems. You re not creating one, heavy-hitting microsite, ebook, or infographic: you re creating a steady stream of content as a layer upon the content that you re already releasing. As far as trends go, it s interesting to watch social visual styles come and go. From quotes on images, to striking scenery, to the neverending success of put a dog on it and it will do well, it s always changing. There are some unwritten rules of what s deemed appropriate for social visuals and it s important for marketers to stay personally involved in social so they re privy to these guidelines Page Williams Social Media Marketing Manager at LinkedIn
18 Put Micro Content to Work page 18 IDEAS FOR YOUR CONTENT PIPELINE You need to do more than come up with a few ideas you need to build a pipeline. Here are some ideas to make the process simple: 1. RELY ON EXISTING, PILLAR CONTENT FOR INSPIRATION If you have a library of content assets on-hand, start there. If you have some design concepts handy even better. Start with your existing visual assets to find concepts to repurpose: Infographics - Designed to go viral, infographics help you capture the essence of your story on one simple, shareable canvas. Take a look at the types of concepts that have performed well in the past. Highlight themes worth repurposing into snackable content. You can even chop up your infographics to make feed-friendly micro content (or design infographics with modularity in mind). Video - Video is one of the top ways to create an emotional impact online. Take a look at your past marketing data to see which of your videos have performed well in the past. These assets could be inspiring sources for micro-videos. ebooks - ebooks empower companies to educate and engage with audiences. Re-read your longer guides to find shorter, snackable micro content. Once again, remember you can design ebooks with reuse as microcontent in mind. You ll definitely see artwork from this guide in our social media feeds! Presentations - Presentations are somewhat similar to micro content in that they communicate big ideas in snackable, digestible ways. Pull out individual slides for social reuse.
19 Put Micro Content to Work page CREATE AND RELEASE MICRO CONTENT AROUND A LARGER ANCHOR CAMPAIGN You can use microcontent to build momentum to a larger event like a marketing push or product launch. Position your business objective as a central theme, and create micro content assets to tell a story around the value proposition that you re looking to push. Creating micro content is a lot more scalable (and easier to secure resources for) when it s part of your initial project brief and designers can plan their designs around it. TOP TIP Chop up your e-books and infographics into smaller, snackable pieces of content that you can easily tweet and share. 3. RUN TESTS TO SEE WHAT WILL STICK Micro content is less costly and quicker to create than larger pieces of content. You should feel comfortable running tests to see what types of content audiences are responding to. In the weeks leading up to April Fool s day in 2014, for instance, Visually worked with its creative marketplace to create a series of visual jokes. This initiative was part of a larger series of campaigns in which Visually consistently tests new ideas and themes to see what will resonate with audiences.
20 Put Micro Content to Work page IDENTIFY TRENDING TOPICS Your micro content will make the strongest impact when it strikes a chord. There are several resources that can help you identify trending topics that may be relevant to your audience. Here are a few places to find topics that have a big audience: We rely heavily on SEO keyword research to help inform the visual content that we re able to create. We ve found time and again that it s an indicator of the channels and content that our audiences are interested in. Natanya Anderson Global Director of CRM, social media, and customer service at Whole Foods TRENDING TOPICS: GENERAL INTEREST LEVELS: BuzzFeed UpWorthy Google News Buzz Sumo Google Trends Google Keyword Planner Quora Reddit Twitter hashtags Pinterest hashtags Instagram hashtags
21 Put Micro Content to Work page MORE IDEAS FOR TOPICS... To get closer to your existing audience, look to your own social media followers by examining the comments that they re leaving, the content they re sharing, and questions they re asking.? If you have a search bar on your website or blog, see what people are searching for. Once you know what people are hungry for, you can create micro content that speaks to these interests spot-on. A good example is that at Thanksgiving, we found that the two things people care about is how to brine a turkey and how to cook a turkey. Neither of these things are long-form content: it s all snackable while addressing a specific need. It s collectible, evergreen, and performs beautifully. It makes complexity simple. Natanya Anderson Global Director of CRM, social media, and customer service at Whole Foods
22 Put Micro Content to Work page COLLABORATE CROSS-FUNCTIONALLY WITH FREELANCERS, PR TEAMS, PRODUCT TEAMS Brainstorming is hard to do alone. Instead of keeping your micro content strategy to one person or team, consider bringing in multiple groups. By working with others, you ll drive efficiency in your brainstorming process by casting your net wide. Creative partners can help you brainstorm new ways to present your brand and achieve your business goals. They might also be able to help support your distribution strategy. Collaboration is just, really, a group of people getting in a room with their eye on a very similar prize and wanting to come out with the same show. Harold Prince American theatrical producer These internal teams are helping us define visual strategy, tones, styles, and direction. It s with these guide rails that other teams are able to go forth and bring their vision to life. They are laying a strategic foundation from which a house can be built -- it s just as important as a marketing strategy. Page Williams Social Media Marketing Manager at LinkedIn
23 Put Micro Content to Work page PLAN YOUR DISTRIBUTION STRATEGY Your micro content strategy needs more than amazing visuals to take off. You need to pay close attention to the context in which you re using this content. Know the social channels you re going to leverage and how you re going to build a campaign around the volume of content that you re releasing. And those hashtags you researched when you were identifying topics will probably come in handy when you re making your posts. Recently, we launched a content campaign called Foods for Thought on Twitter. We wanted to give our customers the opportunity to showcase their own visually stunning content alongside ours, to reinforce who we are as a brand. We used a hashtag to centralize this messaging. We celebrated their own visuals by encouraging usergenerated content and made them a part of our own brand. Natanya Anderson Global Director of CRM, social media, and customer service at Whole Foods
24 Put Micro Content to Work page 24 5 SUBTLE TIPS FOR AWESOME MICRO CONTENT 1. Know your platform Take some time to understand your audience on each social media platform where you re present. See what resonates with your audience, and focus on concentrating your efforts on what your fans, followers, and subscribers will consider compelling. Also make sure to know your image size requirements. 2. Prioritize copywriting Don t let your images fall flat with lackluster writing. Create copy that adds context through a series of compelling headlines and short sentences. 3. Use action verbs Energize your audience with language that generates a burst of inspiration in an easy to consume, bite-sized form. 4. Think in terms of larger campaigns and series Every micro content asset is part of a larger story. Make sure to synchronize your campaigns around a larger story or business initiative. By identifying all your needs ahead of time, you ll also make it easier for designers to create derivative content in the process of creating your big rocks. 5. Integrate experiences between screens Millward Brown s recent AdReaction study found that more than 40 percent of year old multiscreen consumers in the U.S. use devices simultaneously. You can hone in on this audience by crafting stackable content that meshes well with other platforms and encourages sharing.
25 PART 2 BUILD MICRO CONTENT INTO YOUR DAILY ROUTINE When you look at people who are successful, you will find that they aren t the people who are motivated but have consistency in their motivation. Arsene Wenger French football manager and former player
26 Build Micro Content Into Your Daily Routine page 26 GET YOUR DUCKS IN ORDER Behind every successful social media, content, or creative program is an even better process. One of the biggest challenges and time sinks that social media teams face is the amount of back and forth that goes into perfecting an asset and making sure that campaigns are on brand. With micro content, you won t have the time to manage a lengthy approval queue. Instead, you ll need to take the time to determine your processes and workflows upfront, to ensure that you re able to create a steady stream of visuals that your audience will absolutely love.
27 Build Micro Content Into Your Daily Routine page 27 CHECKLIST TO GET STARTED 1. Plan your overall campaign Outline your topline goals & KPIs Identify the target market Develop a messaging framework Identify launch dates 2. Figure out a content plan Determine what assets you ll need Create an inventory of what you have on hand and any potential gaps Figure out what you need in terms of tone, style, and voice Create a content calendar to time the release of your assets Identify potential stakeholders (and get high-level buy in) Commit to a high level visual strategy 3. Figure out what types of talent you need Determine what you d like to outsource and what you d like to keep in house (copywriting vs. design, for instance). Build your team accordingly, and make sure that you have the right people staffed to every aspect of your project. Get your freelancers and creative team on board 4. Kick off your campaign Translate your strategy and plan into a brief that spells out goals, messaging, deliverables, and timelines Schedule a kickoff meeting Present your plan to the team, and make sure that everyone is aligned Agree on everyone s role and the timeline for delivery, review and approval After this initial planning process, you ll work with your creative partners to bring your ideas to life. Here are some additional tips to help guide you:
28 Build Micro Content Into Your Daily Routine page 28 TOP TIPS BE FLEXIBLE WITH YOUR TACTICS You should enter your campaign with a hypothesis about what content will work well on which social channel, but know upfront that it can be hard to predict what will resonate on social media. Pay close attention to how different assets perform, and be prepared to change things up on the fly. I believe that you have to have an overarching visual strategy where you understand what it is you re trying to communicate with visuals holistically, and what role visuals play for your brand. From there, you can create channelspecific successes. So for example, we really struggle with product-based content, even when it s beautiful. In our beauty department, for instance, we sell these beautiful handmade soaps. But when we put them on Facebook, just fizzle, because Facebook is very lifestyle and very fun. But when we take a similar image and we put it out on Instagram, it performs beautifully there. And so I think that s, I see a lot of content being produced these days about this is the way you must do visuals, and I think, then I think it continues to be important to have channel-specific strategies and really understanding what the visuals can do for you in one channel they can t do in another. Natanya Anderson Global Director of CRM, social media, and customer service at Whole Foods
29 Build Micro Content Into Your Daily Routine page 29 TOP TIPS DOCUMENT SUCCESSES AND FAILURES To the extent possible, your micro content execution should build upon past successes and failures. When you re kicking off your next campaign, taking a look at what s performed best for you might give you a leg up. Don t forget to look at different social channels, where your followers may have very different preferences. About two years ago, we did this test on Pinterest where we sort of threw everything at the Pinterest wall to see what would stick. We used different kinds of content, we used different designs, and the entire purpose of that activity was to gather data and to see what was consistent on Pinterest and other channels, and what was unique to Pinterest. And then we looked at some industry research from our Pinterest analytics partner, Curalate, on what was working for other people too so we could have that as input. And we came to a standard approach to the way that we do imagery for Pinterest that s either photography-based or illustration-based. And that approach isn t just about the photography and the design process, but it s about the entire process from brainstorming to production. Natanya Anderson Global Director of CRM, social media, and customer service at Whole Foods
30 Build Micro Content Into Your Daily Routine page 30 TOP TIPS TIME TO FAIL FAST! GO LEARN, ITERATE, AND GROW! One of the biggest benefits of micro content is the opportunity to see quick results. In addition to finding channels where you resonate, you ll also have the ability to develop new micro content on the basis of performance. You might even want to have a little extra time set aside with your creative team to create new assets which reflect your learnings from the first days of your campaign. Definitely take the time to document what worked and what didn t when your campaign is over. Bottom line, you have to be committed to keep trying. More than anything, being attentive and persistent will lead to successful social campaigns. We can t wait to see where yours go! In today s world, where content marketing is such a big focus, I think one of the things everybody s starting to figure out is that you need to understand how hard your content is working. In addition to looking at the immediate ROI per piece of content, you ll need to look at its entire lifespan. Visual marketing, especially through micro content, is an iterative process. Natanya Anderson Global Director of CRM, social media, and customer service at Whole Foods
31 READY TO CREATE SOME HIGH-IMPACT CONTENT? Work with the world s best creative talent. We make it fast, easy, and affordable. GET A QUOTE or us: We ve handpicked top freelancers to help you produce attention-grabbing visual content. After we match you with the right talent, our powerful collaboration platform puts you in direct contact with your creative team. The result is visual content that gets results and saves you time and money. Looking for more inspiration? Check out our visual content gallery
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