What is called “Snack Content” means content that is “consumed” quickly. It is therefore an ephemeral communication, which comes in response to the difficulty of capturing the attention of a hyper-requested Internet user. The “gurus” of this new trend claim to provide the solution to brands that want to stand out in the digital (all?) Era …
Stand out with a trend?
It is quite a contradiction to hear these gurus recommend that you seize this new trend, while ensuring that it will allow your business or your brand to stand out! Sometimes the best answers are in simplicity and obviousness.
A Marketing trend is a practice that is becoming widespread. The sheepish spirit of some pushes them to do like the others, the others must be right: the others launch Facebook pages, I launch mine; the others are getting into the very questionable “Picture Marketing”, I’m getting into it too; the others choose English terms for their signatures, I do the same… If your guru recommends you to do something because everyone else is doing it, how do you hope to distinguish yourself?
Also, what will happen when the whole market has followed the trend? The latter will be trivialized and will no longer have any effect. If its relevance is intrinsic, it may become a norm, while if it derives its value only from the fact that it is new, it will join the dustbin of previous “new trends”.
Some go further by daring to speak of “Snack Content” strategies. Strategy, by definition, is an allocation of resources to achieve a goal. These means are never known in advance, it is the analysis of a situation that determines them. However, in our case, fast consumption content is adopted upstream of all stages!
By reviewing several articles that recommend this new trend, you will find – in addition to superficial reasoning and shared neglect of strategic considerations – suggestions or examples of “snackable” content. These are new types of content that you have never encountered in your life: catchy titles, images, quotes, infographics, short texts, videos… You will understand: they take existing, find a cap (a common point) to bring it together and give it a catchy name “Snack Content”.
Strategic parenthesis: what is communication?
Communication is an extremely serious discipline which has (must have) the purpose of supporting the strategy of an organization or any other entity (a celebrity for example). We must therefore begin by determining the way in which communication will accomplish its mission vis-à-vis the organization. Once this identification is made, we get the strategic message. But it is not finished: it remains to give it a form and to disseminate it.
Form is a creative decision that must take into account the target; it involves understanding the audience and knowing their attitude. For example, does my audience spend time on my content? The form which is the concretization of the strategic message must also take into account the nature of the broadcasting medium. As for the third element, dissemination, it constitutes a technical decision: how I can reach my target. The synergy between the message, its form and its channel produces effective communication.
Slow or fast “consumption”, be flexible
The Snack Content gurus should have continued their metaphor to the end: when you are hungry and you have the time and the money, you eat at your leisure, but when you run out of time, you take a “Snack”. The goal is to make you eat. Your constraints and preferences must be taken into account; a restaurateur able to serve you in both cases will generate a higher turnover.
But when you take a Snack, what about its effect? Your stomach will soon signal your emptiness. The Snack is easy to put in the mouth, but it disappears with just as much ease. In communication too, small efforts make it possible to achieve small, punctual objectives, like Snack Content allows a brand to be seen. It does not mean that it will have lasting benefits. The effect will soon be forgotten when another Snack shakes up yours. Being seen is only the first step on the road to efficiency.
A communicator who favors a single mode of communication is like a hunter who shoots in one direction hoping that the game will cross the trajectory of his bullets.
The starting point is the audience and the message we want to convey to them. Quick-view content, when needed, is a means, not an end. The end is more the message and the desired effect. If the message requires explanations or a considerable amount of information to communicate, it should not be limited to producing a reductionist communication. By applying the principles that I outlined in “the strategic parenthesis”, the communicator has sufficient visibility and height to make ad hoc decisions.
Long before the web and this ephemeral culture imposed by social media, the constraint of exposure time existed: the advertising posters you meet behind the wheel illustrate this. A driver has only a few seconds to spend on a poster; advertisers get it, that’s why they (at least the professionals among them) don’t overload their signs. But they rely on complementarity with other media to effectively deliver their strategic messages.
Snack Content is effective just to be seen. Being seen is not enough to justify your communication expenses, it is even the easiest part in the persuasion process. On the other hand, an organization that abuses the ephemeral is perceived as having no substance, it is superficial and incapable of transmitting a true and consistent message.