In January 2019, Contently, a content marketing platform that connects corporate brands with freelance talent, surveyed over 1,000 people in the United States about their media and marketing preferences. What they discovered about people’s preferred length of content has broken a seemingly unbreakable convention that is getting better: 75% of people prefer to read articles with less than 1,000 words.
With our ever-dwindling ability to focus on specific tasks, discovering Contently makes perfect sense. Writing shorter articles is better because people prefer this type of content.
However, longer articles tend to rank higher on Google and generate more website visits as these types of resources are more comprehensive and better equipped to resolve the searcher’s intent.
How do you reconcile these two ideas and when is it appropriate to create concise content? Fortunately, the answer lies in microblogging.
What is microblogging?
Microblogging refers to creating concise posts for brief interactions with audiences, often on popular microblogging platforms such as Twitter and Tumblr. In addition to text, a microblog post can contain links, audio, images, and even video.
This form is best used when:
- The topic or post has a low search intent but a high virality potential.
- You want to use the communities on common microblogging platforms.
- They report on a live event or provide timely updates.
- You use your microblog as a vehicle for providing multimedia content without a lot of accompanying text.
The puzzle then becomes how you can create a microblog without filling your website with thin content, which can actually hurt your website when it is searched, as Google considers these pages to be of low value.
While this isn’t required (as the FiveThirtyEight example below shows), most of the microblogging actually takes place on platforms specifically designed for this purpose.
In addition to being one of the most popular microblogging sites, Twitter is also one of the most popular social media platforms.
On Twitter, you can create a profile that will store all of your posts – or tweets. You can insert text, links, photos, videos, GIFs, audio, and more into your tweets. Each of your tweets also has a limit of 280 characters. In addition, you can reply to tweets from other users and share or retweet them.
With over 496 million different blogs, Tumblr is a busy hub for short-form content. The microblogging website allows you to blog and include links, text, photos, GIFs, videos, Spotify tracks, MP3 files and more in your posts. If you follow other blogs, their posts will appear on your dashboard. You can also comment on and regulate the posts of other blogs in your own blog.
Unlike most microblogs, Pinterest is purely visual. In your profile, you can create boards, which are collections of images curated on a specific topic, post pins of your favorite pictures, and add trials, which are notes and photos of ideas you’ve tried, such as: . B. New recipes that you have cooked or new places that you have traveled to. You can also follow other people’s profiles and topics. These are the most popular boards that cover specific topics.
While Instagram – like Pinterest – is primarily a visual platform, Instagram lets you add 2,200-character captions to any photo or video that you post on your profile. Some media outlets are even using Instagram to usher in a new phase of journalism that focuses on creating visually engaging articles.
On Instagram, you can follow other profiles and popular hashtags, discover new content based on your user behavior and popular topics, watch long-form videos and Instagram stories, comment on posts, tag your friends in posts, and send them direct messages.
You may know Facebook as the most popular social media network in the world. But it’s also the most robust microblogging platform out there.
On Facebook, you can create a profile where you can share text-based updates, photos, GIFs, videos, an emotion, an activity you’re doing, and the place you’re in right now.
You can also ask for recommendations on where to go when you want to visit a place, flag friends and events in your updates, survey your friends, support and donate to a nonprofit, answer a question about yourself, make fun lists, and post Facebook stories, record live videos, interact with your friends’ updates, messages, calls and video chats, create groups with them, create events, watch long-form videos, sell and buy products, and play games.
LinkedIn is a social media platform aimed at business professionals but still has a powerful microblogging arm. In addition to using LinkedIn’s publishing feature to post articles, you can also use status updates for short-form microblogs. These status updates allow you to share a photo, video, event, link, or post a longer form. Everything you share or deal with can be found in your profile under “Activity”.
As you’ve probably noticed by now, most of the above microblogging websites are also the most popular social media websites – but this shouldn’t come as a surprise. People love to scroll through social media because they can consume tubs of snacks in a short amount of time. And marketers should leverage these insights and apply them to their content strategy. Because just like eating a bag of Doritos, you never stop after the first chip.
So you know when microblogging works and on which platforms it takes place. But what do you post in the end?
Get inspiration from some of these incredible microblogs:
1. Liz Ryan on LinkedIn
Liz Ryan is a human resources thought leader, best known for her Ask Liz Ryan series, where individuals submit their burning career questions. Common topics are job hunting, salary negotiations and toxic jobs.
Your LinkedIn posts contain these stories as well as helpful HR tips in a neat microblog format. She actively encourages her followers to participate in order to create a rich community in which people can share their stories.
2. Magic Realism Bot on Twitter
The Magic Realism Bot on Twitter automatically generates a premise for a magical story every four hours. Followers can either use this as a prompt for their own projects, or simply bask in the absurdity it creates.
The Magic Realism Bot fully serves its purpose in less than 280 characters, making it a good example of how long form is not always the form for a content project.
3. Etsy on Pinterest
Etsy is an e-commerce platform where indie developers and collectors can post their products for sale. Since Etsy offers this service and generates revenue from transactions, it is in their best interest not only to advertise as a platform, but also the goods that can be found there.
In this type of scenario, the casual browsing is a powerful tool, so they use their Pinterest as a microblog featuring various gems from Etsy sellers. This tactic doesn’t work as a long-form blog, and the goal isn’t to get organic traffic but to grab the attention of potential customers on Pinterest.
4. Live election coverage from FiveThirtyEight
FiveThirtyEight is a website founded by analyst Nate Silver specializing in survey analysis, politics, and business. On November 3, 2020, their election coverage was published in the form of a microblog, in which bite-sized updates on the status of the number of votes and forecasts for the distribution of votes as well as expert comments were published.
Unlike the other microblogs on this list, FiveThirtyEight used their own website to host their microblog posts. All election reports were available on a single page. This helped to keep the users on their website while also providing a good user experience when it came to updating more information when information was broadcast live.
5. Will Lucas on LinkedIn
Will Lucas uses LinkedIn for insight into entrepreneurship and growth. While many of his posts contain links to his initiatives as well as status updates on some of his endeavors, he also uses LinkedIn’s microblogging functionality to deliver video content that will add value to his audience.
6. SparkNotes on Twitter
As a study guide website for humanities classes, SparkNotes aims to use its marketing to reach the target audience of high school and university students. The content of their website is aimed at students who are looking for something in particular. However, they use Twitter as a microblog that takes a different approach: use a viral approach based on humor and relativity to create awareness, earn engagement, and increase reach.
7. People in New York on Instagram
The Humans of New York project uses Instagram to highlight real stories about real New Yorkers. Each Instagram post acts as a mini-feature about someone photographer Brandon Stanton encounters.
Since these people are not famous, there aren’t many search intentions so it doesn’t need to take the form of a typical search engine indexed blog post. Instead, Humans of New York relies on the visual aspect of the website to humanize their subjects with short articles that range from touching to absurd, heartbreaking to funny.
Start with the advice on blogging vs. Microblogging and the examples above for inspiration to come up with a content strategy that uses form to reflect its purpose, so that it is as useful as possible to your audience.
Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in May 2019 and has been updated for completeness.