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
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
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?