The Power of Microcontent

At a recent workshop by Station X’s Brant Collins, I was introduced to the term “microcontent.” As confirmed by Wikipedia, it means just what it sounds like: “small information chunks that can stand alone or be used in a variety of contexts, including instant messages, blog posts, RSS feeds, and abstracts.” This weekend, my cousin posted a link to a small information chunk from YouTube. Author Kelly Corrigan’s Transcending speech is 5 minutes and 7 seconds of honesty, humor and wit on women, friendships, relationships, children, life, and death. In that short time, I found myself moved by the poignancy of her words, and as the video faded out and YouTube began to suggest others I might enjoy, I contemplated the power this microcontent had. It had made me want to call my grandmothers, run another marathon, and plan that girls’ trip my best friends and I have always talked about. It also made me think about how other pieces of microcontent (all under 10 minutes) have impacted my life: how my husband learned how to break down a whole chicken, how my co-workers and I could not stop laughing at “All the Single Babies,” and how I could rewatch any song from the Dave Matthews Band concert in North Little Rock last week.

For those of us in the advertising industry, microcontent marks a change in how people are getting their information. How much of what consumers absorb every day is microcontent? And does the future of advertising lie in these short information chunks? Getting Engaged: Advertisers Searching for their Voices on YouTube, an article from Knowledge@Wharton, shares that advertising previously was about the buzz. Now, however, it’s about engagement–how to help the consumers participate, rather than passively take in information. Enter advertisers, marketeers, and clients’ fear of the unknown. Once microcontent is out on the internet, it belongs to the consumer. They decide to digg, tweet, mark it on delicious, share it on facebook, mock it mercilessly. or worst of all, ignore it completely. In an effort to illuminate the “changing face of marketing,” Google and Wharton have partnered to develop a YouTube channel called Fast.Forward. It invites individuals and companies to share their thoughts on “what will define success through marketing’s continual evolution.” It’s a great site, sharing trends and free tools along with advertisers’ insights. Above all, it’s a great manifestation of that which it’s trying to define and made me feel warm and fuzzy about the advertising community. Instead of being in constant competition, we’re teaming up this time for everyone’s benefit.

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