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Snackable Content: The Key to Engagement

by Glenn Engler  |  
August 30, 2011

In this article, you'll learn...

  • How bite-sized content is more digestible and generates engagement
  • Nine types of "snackable content"

The space shuttle Endeavor lifted off a few months ago, and its amazing speed and power has never ceased to amaze me. With a maximum speed of 19,000 miles per hour, it's fast. Awe-inspiring fast. It's a magnificent machine, highly complex. It took thousands of hours to build it, set it up, program it, and make it work. Mind-boggling.

But what do we do? We assemble to watch the final seconds of the countdown, the incredible liftoff, and the ascent through the atmosphere. About two minutes of video is enough to satiate the masses, though a small percentage digs deeper into written and video content.

Less is more

Twitter was born to deliver 140 characters per tweet. Early on, it was fascinating. As a Twitter user, you could follow people and easily catch up on what they were saying. Now, it's incredibly difficult to keep up with the 65 million tweets a day. Each tweet lasts a microsecond now before it is swept aside by the next. How do users keep up? They use filtering tools, lists, hashtag searches, and quick scans to see whether something catches their eye.

We're all walking around with more devices than ever before. At home, 94% of TV viewers are using some kind of "distraction device" while viewing TV, with smartphones accounting for 60% of that effect. More smartphones are now shipped than PCs, and tablets (led by the iPad) have taken off. Content aggregators like Flipboard and Zite have combined a single point of aggregation with beautiful, simple-to-use experiences. Users can easily and quickly navigate across stories until settling on one of interest.

In 2010, Nielsen's analysis of the Project for Excellence in Journalism's The State of the News Media found that users spent only six minutes per month per person on online sites for magazines (the epitome of long-form media). Leave it to the political news aggregation website Drudge Report to have the highest immersion rates, at roughly 60 minutes per user per month.

Quick response (QR) codes are popping up on everything from magazine advertisements to outdoor signage and business collateral. You can use a scanning app (such as RedLaser) on your smartphone, and quickly get immersed in an experience.

You can now stand in a store, scan a UPC code, and compare prices online and in neighboring stores. Location-based services, such as Foursquare, Groupon, and LivingSocial, rapidly facilitate a steady stream of offers and news items. And although more than 500,000 apps are available in the Apple App store, and thousands more with BlackBerry and Android, only 20% of apps are used more than once.

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Glenn Engler is the CEO of Digital Influence Group, a Boston-based digital agency with social at its core. You can read Glenn's blog and reach him via Twitter @glennengler.

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  • by SpencerBroome Tue Aug 30, 2011 via web

    I like the Royal Wedding example at the end. Really nails the point home.

  • by Eniko Tue Aug 30, 2011 via web

    Great article! How does lenght affect SEO? I've been told I need to write 500 words at a time to max out my search.

  • by Meighan, Cinchcast Tue Aug 30, 2011 via web

    Really enjoyed this article, and totally agree with the "snackable" content approach for driving reach and engagement.

    Another type of snackable content that is very easy to produce at scale is audio. While I am a bit biased because I work at Cinchcast (, we have seen a lot of clients that have had success with creating brief audio bites that they can share widely via their websites and throughout social media (Facebook, Twitter, iTunes, etc.). Audio is also very easy to consume at home, at the office or on the go.

    A few examples of how audio can be leveraged to create compelling content:

    1) A 30 second audio tip of the day
    2) A short customer interview or testimonial (featuring the real voice of the customer can be really powerful)
    3) Q&A Snacks: set up a phone number where your audience can call in with questions, record answers to these questions, and put the questions and answers together for a shareable Q&A segment.

    With existing browser-based technologies, creating audio content is as easy as making a phone call. You can also add rich meta data to your audio content to maximize the SEO benefit.

  • by Peggy Martin Tue Aug 30, 2011 via web

    Lots of insight in this post! Video has been my passion for over 20 years now and a huge part of my life - not separate as in my work - it spills over into every part of every week! I discovered many years ago when I owned and operated a small audio/video services business that to "get it on video" saves time and that if the video is put together well, especially edited well, it has the power to get your message across, no matter if your message is to your family, to work associates, or to prospective clients. Video works! Peggy Martin, PR Online Video

  • by ishKiia Tue Aug 30, 2011 via web

    What a great snackable and valuable article!

  • by EA Tue Aug 30, 2011 via web

    Good stuff. I'm applying that to my business and the results are amazing! Thank you much.

  • by Zak Pines Tue Aug 30, 2011 via web

    I love the phrase "snackable". We have been applying this thinking to create modular video segments -- we call them "vignettes" -- in helping our customers create content like publishers. What's ironic is it takes a lot longer to write good, short content. In general it will as much time to produce a 2-minute video vignette as a 45-minute webinar.

    Zak Pines (Avitage)

  • by Nick Stamoulis Wed Aug 31, 2011 via web

    "Snackable content" is a great way to explain our love for short, quick and informative. I gave up on lengthy progress reports a long time ago because I found my clients never bothered to read the whole thing. They just wanted the bullet points! There is a time and place for long content, but I think you're right that most of the time readers want the condensed version.

  • by Glenn Engler Wed Aug 31, 2011 via web

    Thanks for the comments. Lots of good responses and you have all confirmed how scaleable this concept is. I love the inclusion of audio clips -- good addition. And to Zak's point -- it could, in fact, take longer to create good, short content -- but if it's the difference between a customer reading and engaging, or ignoring, it's clearly worth it. And to your point, a 500-word blog post that's junk is just as useless as a 5-page white paper that's junk!

    To Eniko's specific question around SEO, I do not know that exact answer, as I believe there are many different variables in play. Any readers know simple rules of translating content length to SEO?

  • by Claire Bowen Thu Sep 1, 2011 via web

    Great article. Not exactly a new concept (that individuals these days want it easy and fast and now!) but some useful pointers and reminders - thanks!

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