The Snackable Misnomer

Throughout the social media marketing web, photos and video and infographics are often discussed as “snackable” content. Calling rich media snackable is a big misnomer (Image by decipherment).

Bloggers began using the term in the late 2000s as a means to describe short content. However, since then the mobile web dominates online media consumption and the sheer volume of blogs and print content has increased. As a result, visual media has become more than a cute hors d’oeuvres to augment online media offerings. Instead, visual media have become the necessary hook to capture customer interest.

Calling rich media snackable is a failure to see the dynamic draw of visuals, and how they serve as an essential first step to engaging others in a possible customer journey. Rich media often serves as the first touch, the means to draw interest and start someone on their web journey. Using my former colleague Beth Kanter’s Ladder of Engagement metaphor, today’s rich media often serves as the first step on the ladder.

What was considered primary media is rapidly becoming boring and unreadable to more and more causal web users. Many consumers won’t dig deep without a clear interest.

Rich Content Creation Takes Time

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Creating rich media that is easier to consume is just as time intensive as text, if not more so. Setting up a professional video or photo shoot takes hours, not minutes. That doesn’t even include editing time. Yet bloggers who think they can run a corporate Instagram account with casual one-off “snacks” shot on their smartphone wouldn’t know that.

Graphic design is also time intensive.

Then consider the amount of time it takes to write and produce scripts, and short but powerful captions. These things need sharp catchy text and strong calls to action, if the ladder is to be climbed. I used to dismiss BuzzFeed until I dug a little deeper into its format. I realized how much effort goes into each article.

When rich content is created, you need a method to disseminate it. Whether through an organic community or a paid one through native advertising or earned media through pr mechanisms, you need a community to serve your time-intense rich media.

It’s In the Way That You Use It

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So you can see rich media is not really a snack, unless you deploy it strategically in that manner. More and more brands are meeting the mobile trend by using rich media as the first step on their ladder of engagement.

If you are operating from the standpoint that print is the center of your content offering, then it makes sense to treat rich media as snackable. But the sea change that is occurring in online media consumption may force a strategic shift.

More online content leaders and increasingly the agency community are coaching their colleagues to use visual media as a primary vehicle. In that vein, Tenacity5 is releasing a blog post, slideshare deck and eBook tomorrow filled with simple tips on how to use visual media on a variety of networks.

One of the reasons we engaged in the effort was the snackable issue. We see the concept of using rich media as window dressing or secondary content as a strategic error. And we are seeing the shift in the marketplace, too. Tenacity5 is only one year old, but three of our six clients are leading with visual media as primary assets. It’s time to educate the sector about this shift.

What do you think?

More Evidence that Visuals Far Outpace Text

Digiday surveyed attendees of its Agency Innovation Camp about how visual native ads stack up against text based native ads (hat tip: Richard Binhammer). More often than not, attendees favored visuals by 75 percent or more.

The below infographic states attendees opinions about native advertising environments.The survey does not have enough of a sample to be scientifically valid (80 attendees), but it does fall in line with general trends in the movement towards a visual Internet.

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The evidence continues to mount. As a strategist if you don’t include at least a hybrid visual/text approach to your content creation, then it’s fair to expect mediocre results. The argument that higher quality written content will still survive may be true for a select few properties, but the margin for success will continue to narrow.

Whether it’s photography, graphics or video, every piece of content today must communicate visually. The visual cannot be bolted on to content as an afterthought.

The purpose of said content — from an ad to a highly detailed piece of content that is text driven — must include visuals that are intentional in purpose. Visuals convey the meaning of said communication clearly and consiely, much quicker than the words do.

Text in many ways works with the visual to tell the richer story. Many won’t read all of the text. In fact, if someone is reading content on a smartphone, it’s likely they won’t get beyond the first paragraph. But the words are there in a transmedia sense for those who want to go further down the proverbial rabbit hole.

What do you think?

9 Videos on the Digital Future

Happy April Fool’s Day! We now resume our regular programming…

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Five weeks ago at xPotomac, nine speakers and one emcee delivered speeches and conversation starters that sparked 25-30 minutes of questions and answers each. The following nine videos are listed in the order of presentation.

Special thanks to my client Vocus for providing videography services. Vocus is hosting the Demand Success 2013 conference in Washington, DC this June 20-21. The event focuses on marketing best practices for converging media, and includes speakers like Arianna Huffington, Content Marketing Institute Founder Joe Pulizzi, digital journalism expert Jay Rosen, and many more. Check it out.

Please feel free to leave comments and feedback about the conference here. We’re listening!

xPotomac Introduced: BlogPotomac Legacy and Future Vision

DC’s very own Shana Glickfield (Beekeeper Group) provides the introduction to very first xPotomac. xPotomac is where the digital media future meets businesses. This groundbreaking conference features seven media technologies most likely to impact businesses and marketers in the immediate future.

This smaller intimate conference features limited attendance to ensure maximum learning and networking. Speakers will present in a tight setting with the stage centered in the round or in a horseshoe formation. Each session features a gladiator like format with 15 minutes dedicated to speaking and 30 minutes of question and answer from the audience.

Opening Keynote: Voice Search Changes the Game

The opening keynote at xPotomac was provided by Vanessa Fox. Given how much of the current web — social and content marketing included — revolves around search, voice search represents a game changer, especially given mobile use with Siri and Google Voice Search.
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Does a Social Score Make a CMO?

A recent infographic published on a Forbes blog ranks the top 20 Fortune 100 CMOs based on social scoring. The graphic poses an interesting question: Should CMOs be judged by their individual social media prowess?

The methodology for the social scores released in the infographic was not released, and there was an incredibly wide disparity between follower counts and placement in the Top 20. It’s hard to consider the scores valid because we don’t know the criteria used for the algorithm.

One would hope Forbes would insist authors provide information sources and research criteria, even when it’s published under the guise of a blog. More on this tomorrow. Today let’s address the question of CMOs and social media scores.

Clearly influencers have become an important part of marketing.

The first group of people to tell you that is the influencer/social media community. That’s because we as a group overvalue ourselves.

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Marketing in the Round Infographic: The Tip of the Iceberg

Marketing in the Round Infographic

Today, Gini Dietrich and I launch Marketing in the Round in Chicago with a virtual (1 ET) U-Stream book bomb and a live (5 CT) networking event! Read Gini’s post here about how the book happened.

Immersed in the era of visual media, what better way to start the day than with an infographic of statistics used in the book (also available directly on Flickr and Scribd). The RAD Campaign designed infographic demonstrates how today’s online marketing conversation, actual business expenditures, and business selection of tactics are not in synch.

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The State of Influencer Theory Infographic

The State of Influencer Theory

The above infographic — “The State of Influencer Theory” (download here) — was published today as part of a primer on influence theory that appeared in SmartBrief on Social Media. The post updates a section of Welcome to the Fifth Estate to include leaderboard theory, such as Klout and Empire Avenue.

Addressing some issues pointed out in “Infographics: Art or Porn,” this graphic is designed by Jess3 (thank you, Jesse and Leslie), the industry leader in online data visualization. The infographic fits on one screen view. Because the graphic depicts people and theories, it is designed as a fun, cartoonesque map that illustrates the evolution of theory, creating a pop art element to it. The downloadable graphic is licensed as Creative Commons (with attribution), is high resolution, and can be made into a poster or screen wallpaper.

The key for the data elements in the graphic can be found in the companion post and is listed below:

The Tipping Point (2000) by Malcolm Gladwell – Movements are caused by three types of influencers; connectors, mavens (subject matter experts) and salesmen. Examples: Old Spice Guy, Dell Listens.

Six Degrees/Weak Ties (2003) by Duncan Watts — Data analysis shows influencers rarely start contagious movements, instead average citizens provide the spark. Examples: Egyptian Revolution, Tumblr – Digg Events.

One Percenters (2006) Jackie Huba & Ben McConnell – It is the content creators amongst Internet communities that drive online conversations. Examples: Lady Gaga, Ford Vista.

The Magic Middle (2006) by David Sifry: The middle tier of content creators and voices break stories and discussing that trickle up into widespread contagious events. Examples: 2008 Obama Election, Motrin Moms.

The Groundswell (2008) by Charlene Li and Josh Bernoff: Movements start within communities, and leaders rise up out of the community, and can have many roles including content creator, critic and collector. Examples: Haiti Earthquake Texting, Pepsi Refresh.

Trust Agents (2009) by Chris Brogan and Julien Smith – Influencers are people who build online trust and relationships whose communities look to them for advice and direction. Examples: Gary Vaynerchuk (WineLibrary.TV), Republican Party’s #FirePelosi Campaign.

Free Agents (2010) by Beth Kanter and Allison Fine – These trusted influencers are independent of traditional command and control organizations, and crash into the walls of storied cultures. Examples: @BPGlobalPR, Robert Scoble at Microsoft – Channel 8

Leaderboards (2010-11): Influence can be quantified by online actions taken by a person’s community, including retweets, mentions, comments and more. Examples: Klout, Empire Avenue.

Because the article is meant to serve as an objective primer on well-discussed theories, there’s little opinion about which theories work and don’t. You do see some alignment in the graphic of top down versus bottom up theories, as well as the basic offsetting of these two theory families, with Gladwell and Watts taking opposite sides. However, there is much to say from an opinion standpoint, and it will be said here next week. :)