We use micro-content on a day-to-day basis, even though we may not be aware of it. And Google snippets are the best example to prove that.
Every time you do a Google search, you must have seen a fragment of a particular article that relates to the topic. What is it, if not the best use of micro content to give quick answers to a user’s query?
Micro-content is a concisely packed version of core content, like in Google snippets, or just a short piece of writing that immediately gets to the heart of the matter.
Let’s learn about the concept in detail. Dive in!
What is micro content?
Micro-content, the term appeared in 1998 in one of the articles by Jakob Neilson, a usability advisor. He described micro-content as a type of content that can be perceived in less than 30 seconds. Step by step, the term became very popular in such spheres, technical writing, marketing, UX/UI.
Currently, the term might be unknown among broad audiences, but everyone has surely seen this type of content a lot of times. Social networks widely use it every day.
Any image, text, or video that can be consumed within 10-30 seconds, is usually considered micro-content. So micro-content is clearly the opposite of long-form content. Long-form content includes articles, blogs, and extensive research data, while micro-content is made up of smaller, bite-sized snippets of content that engage the reader or tease them or inform them with something.
Some of the distinctive features of micro-content are the following:
– Precise and direct
– Easily readable and scannable
– Addresses one question or solves one problem at a time
– Aimed at working in a short period
One of the most important things in micro-content is that it clearly shows the value of your message. Whenever you use it for your piece, your customers don’t have to spend time reading lines of text. The essence is on the surface.
Examples of Micro-Content
1. Images and Infographics: A striking image (a GIF/meme/photo illustration) is one of the best ways to capture readers’/viewers’ attention when used in conjunction with social media and hashtags.
2. Micro Post: These are short blogs (around one or two paragraphs) that usually appear alongside an image on a social platform such as Facebook or Twitter. It’s a good idea to write these in batches as they’re engaging and relatively easy to produce.
3. Twitter Updates: Termed as micro-blogging, Twitter now provides 280 characters to get our message across.
4. Short Videos: TikTok videos, Instagram stories, Buzzfeed’s Tasty recipes, are examples of short videos. These snippets in video format relay more information in ten seconds than a half-page text-based article.
5. Microsite: A microsite is a branded webpage or a group of webpages that exist separate from your main website. The idea behind a microsite is to offer yet another platform for potential customers to discover your brand with the objective that the unique content it holds will drive them to act. This action can range anywhere from simply reading the content to signing up for email newsletters.
Benefits of Micro-Content
Though long-form content is still prevalent, with increased usage of social media, short form content is replacing it. People are busy and some people don’t really like to read but will read a short post, and listen to a short video/audio. Mini-posts fill a real need for short content.
– Easily digestible information for readers: The info you want to get across is easier to digest for readers because it is short, simple, and precise.
– Easily shareable information: Micro content can become a part of a large document, and at the same time, it can be used on its own. This makes it suitable for posting on social media and sharing it independently from the rest of the content.
– Saves time: Using micro content is an efficient way of attracting users’ attention, but producing content like that doesn’t require a long learning curve. If technical writers can cope with HTML and CSS, surely, they can cope with creating infographics or a short video. In case not, it is not a problem to find an expert who will help with that.
– Improved connection and focus with your readers: Micro-content creates a quick connection with the user who visits your site. The main idea of it is to release information in 30 seconds, therefore, a quick link between brands or businesses and a lead can be created, which can significantly reduce the conversion time.
– Easy navigation and improved searchability: Users hardly ever read technical documentation from cover to cover. They scan it to find the information to solve their problems. Another possible search scenario is that they use the search box (in case they read online technical documentation). They will scan the whole branch of related topics. Micro content makes the information highly visible. There is no need to scan unnecessary information, as the content is clear. It saves time, effort and makes documentation more enjoyable.
How to create Micro-Content in Technical Writing?
Creating micro-content in technical writing is a trend now. With a short attention span of the users’, it offers great flexibility and accessibility of documentation for a wider audience.
To create micro-content for tech writing, we need to follow a few rules, such as the information should be properly chunked, non-reliant on external information, non-reliant on circumstances, and able to identify user intent.
If you look at the examples of micro content in technical writing — headlines/titles, images, blurbs, tips, illustrations, infographics, short videos, tables, etc — you’ll understand the basic rule of thumb almost immediately.
Simply put, you should keep you content:
a) Short and to the point: Micro content contains no excessive information.
b) Structured Information: We should logically structure our content. Structured information is more digestible than endless lines of text. For that, we should always use tables, lists, steps, and other visual elements.
c) Focused on one problem at a time: It focuses on one issue before moving on to the next. When creating micro content, we should not overlook this rule: answer one question and describe one feature.
d) Understanding a user’s intent: We know how to create content and what exactly to underline. For example, users may want to find a description of a process, an instruction with a set of steps, or a definition to understand the nature of an object.
e) Emphasis on context: There should always be a correlation between content and context. And in case micro content is a part of a bigger document, it should fit it naturally.
Currently, organizations have moved from detailed product versions to a scenario-driven approach that prioritizes application usage requirements. With this requirement in place, we as tech writers, have shifted our focus of documentation from product usage scenarios to interactive user problem-solving. Because, we know for sure, that our audience already has a preliminary knowledge of the product and they are mostly looking for precise information to ease their way around. With this switch, micro-content is here to stay in technical communications.