How Creating Microcontent Helped Grow Inbound Referrals by 3x

Published on Sep 27, 2015




Microblogging – Flat DesignThis is a blog post from Bill Flitter of dlvr.it.

What is the new buzz term microcontent all about? Can it be used successfully to grow your business? Short answer – yes! Read about three easy-to-implement strategies to double your engagement rates using microcontent.

As a small business owner, you’re busy wearing many hats. Marketing is just one task on your long to-do list. Who has time for social media, right? And, more than likely, that blog of yours is just attracting dust.

It takes time to create good original content. Consider these facts from the experts:

content length

Of course, we can’t ignore Google and what the data shows there. If you look at the average length of the top 10 results, they read like Harry Potter novels.

length of top 10

Feeling stressed just looking at this data? Don’t worry. You can be successful at creating smaller length content called microcontent. Take it from me. I have succeeded at churning out microcontent – short, engaging content that takes about a minute to consume – on my blog the Social Media Minute.

Like you, we are busy running our social media SaaS business, dlvr.it. We don’t have time to write 1,500-word essays. Our short posts are indexed just fine – often in the number one spot.

I am not disputing the data on optimal blog post length. Matter of fact I believe the data. However, if you don’t have a blog or don’t have time to write 1,500 words, don’t worry. There are many other forms of microcontent you can easily fit into a busy schedule while creating deep engagement with your audience. Let’s explore.

What is microcontent?

According to Wikipedia, there are at least two interpretations of the term microcontent. Originally, the term was used to define words that can be skimmed to get a clear idea of the content of a Web page. For example, article headlines, page titles, subject lines and e-mail headings. The second use of the term extends it to other small information chunks that can stand alone or used in a variety of contexts, including instant messages, blog posts, RSS feeds, and abstracts.

I consider microcontent to not only be short blog posts (word count or length) but also content that is quick to create and consume. In the examples below, we will show you how to succeed at creating microcontent on the following three platforms:

  • Quora
  • Instagram
  • Twitter

The length of the copy doesn’t matter as long as the content provides value. According to Neil Patel from Quicksprout, when it comes to web content, length is only one of the factors to consider. You’ve got to consider a host of other issues. Take into account how all these other factors affect the length of your post.

  • Substance – this is the most basic consideration. What are you trying to say? What’s the substance? If you can say it in 100 words, then you may want to do so. If it requires 2,000 words, that’s fine too.
  • Style – some writing styles lend themselves to content that is short, brief, and to the point. Other times, the style is more conversational and interactive. Style will affect your content length.
  • Frequency – how often you post affects how long your posts are. Some bloggers may post only once a week, but when they do, it tends to be a very thorough blog post. Other sites pop out short ones every day. It’s just a matter of how much the content marketing team can manage. Good content takes time!
  • Format – the way an article is formatted has a massive impact on its readability. I tend to use a lot of subheadings, a sprinkling of images, and short paragraphs. It’s important to break up your content into chunks so people can scan it.
  • Purpose – every good content marketing plan has a purpose…many purposes. The ultimate goal is conversions, but within this broad goal, there are sub-goals. Other goals may be to spread brand awareness, drive social engagement, grow email lists, provide education or improve SEO. Different purposes will naturally mean differing length requirements.
  • Audience – a huge part of content creation is knowing your audience: their needs, their interests, their passions, and their problems. Your goal is to create content your audience is going to read.
  • Medium – not all content is words. When I post an infographic, I typically use around 100 words to introduce the topic. The rest of the words are in the infographic, which don’t translate into an accurate word count metric. If you post a video, meme or infographic, word count becomes irrelevant.

Ironically, a post about microcontent is not going to be micro. Hopefully, you will find value from strategies we used to create value from microcontent:

How we Grew our Quora Referrals by 3x

Mastering Quora isn’t complex, but it does take some time to build momentum.

Step 1. Follow topics and build your Quora profile(s)

Try a few approaches. Follow narrow and broad topics and fine tune over time. You will get notified when there is a new question on the topics you choose.

Build out your profiles. With each topic you follow, you can create a unique profile that highlights your expertise on that topic. Your profile is a great feature that compliments a diverse background and further adds credibility to your answers.

To configure your Quora profiles, go to:

https://www.quora.com/INSERT-YOUR-USERNAME/about

Using myself as an example below, you can see I have seven different profiles – one for each topic I follow.

bill flitter

Step 2: Answered questions

  • Strategy: We pinpointed 2-3 targeted questions to answer that would drive traffic back to our blog. Although our answers were precise, we included a link back to our blog for more information on the subject. See example below:

dark social question

  • How did we choose which questions to answer? We asked ourselves the following questions:
    • Do we have domain expertise in the area being discussed?
    • Do we have data to backup our answer? Do we have a blog post as a reference?
    • Are we one of the first to answer the question? We wanted to be one of the first to answer. We noticed this increased the upvotes on our answers.
  • Time spent: 15 minutes, Monday – Friday

When I responded to questions in each category, Quora had already populated the correct profile in my response – again highlighting my expertise in that subject area. Most social networks only allow for one generic profile. Having multiple profiles is a unique advantage. I can showcase my many talents that expand beyond just my professional activities at dlvr.it.

Step 3. Republish blog posts

  • Strategy: When we added a blog post to the dlvr.it blog, we would turn it into a question to repost on Quora. Each Quora blog post included a summary of the main points and link back to the dlvr.it blog for more information.
  • Time Spent: 5 minutes

millennials

Step 4. Share answers on Twitter and Facebook

  • Strategy: Build awareness to the Quora answers with our existing social media audience. We used smart automation to build awareness of our answers. When I answered a question, the answer was automatically shared with our social media audience using Quora-to-RSS.

quora

We found that starting with “My @Quora answer to…” was the best format when sharing on social media.

How To Quickly Get Popular On Instagram

Step 1. Make your Instagram profile look interesting

For detailed instructions on how to create the perfect Instagram profile, read The Ultimate Checklist for a Winning Instagram Profile. Here’s a quick overview:

starbucks

  1. Use a unique but true Username
  2. Create an interesting Bio
  3. Include a profile photo
  4. Include a URL link to your website or social accounts
  5. Include a clever #hashtag
  6. Set your profile to Public (not Private).

***Keep your profile private until you’ve completed the steps below.

Step 2: Build a portfolio of really good photos

Would you open your store if the shelves were empty? Before you start doing anything else, you want your Instagram profile to look great. Nobody is going to follow an empty profile. If you want other people to follow you, the first thing you should do is upload about 15 – 20 GOOD photos.

Keep in mind that certain types of photos do particularly well on Instagram. I ran across a fascinating white paper in an article published on elle.com on What Makes an Image Popular by MIT’s Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Lab, eBay Research Labs, and DigitalGlobe.

Using a dataset of about 2.3 million images from Flickr, they considered the photos’ colors, textures, gradients, objects present, tags, and more, then measured what gets the most reach.

different colors

Which images are more popular than others?

From the study referenced above, the resulting set of objects with different impact on popularity is as follows:

impacts on popularity

Need a visual?

strong positive impact

Some of it is pretty obvious (scantily clad ladies = likes?!). While some of it seems like it only makes sense in certain situations (a gun-holding, miniskirt-wearing woman drinking tea and looking at maillots would probably just be…weird).

Popularity Tool: Yes, this is real! Led by MIT doctoral candidate Aditya Khosla, they wrote an algorithm to help predict how popular photos will be on social media—before you even post them. All you have to do to test it yourself is upload your photo and press the “Run” button to see its “popularity API.”

Step 3: Get yourself noticed

If the bikini shot didn’t get you enough traction, once you’ve uploaded some really good photos and made your profile look interesting, it’s time to attract everyone’s attention.

  1. Reach out to friends and customers: Reach out to your existing friends and followers from other social networks. Since those people already know you, they’re far more likely to become a follower
  2. Cross-post on Twitter and Facebook: Cross-post your Instagram photos to other social networks especially ones where you have a larger audience. You’ll be building your Instagram following while sharing interesting photos with people who want to see them!
  3. Leverage hashtags: One of the quickest ways to build a following on Instagram is to monitor and engage with different hashtags. Use 1-2 relevant hashtags when posting photos on Instagram. Research which hashtags other industry influencers or competitors are using, and then spend time each day monitoring the content of each tag.

Step 4: Engage with your followers

instagram

While everyone is obsessed with their number of followers, keeping your followers happy and engaged is equally important if you want to build a relationship and get the most out of your Instagram experience.

  • Post regularly so that people don’t forget who you are but don’t upload a bunch of photos at once (except when setting up your profile in private mode).

If somebody doesn’t like one of your photos, the chances are that they’ll still keep following you. But when you post three unpopular photos in a row, you’re far more likely to lose a follower.

  • Engage your followers with hashtags that you wouldn’t normally use. Everyone loves a sunset because everyone can relate to a sunset. There are thousands of users who want to find photos of #sunsets, and one might become your customer.

For more tips on creating the perfect Instagram post, continue reading: Create the Perfect LinkedIn, Blog, YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Google+, Instagram, Vine, Tumblr Posts.

7 Ways to Master Twitter – Backed by Research

The latest research on social media reveals seven key ways to get more clicks from each tweet. Writing the perfect tweet, is a methodology developed over just a few short years. We put together a list of these important findings to boost click-through rate and generate more traffic and followers from each tweet.

1. Write headlines that evoke action and emotion

  • 80% of readers won’t make it past the headline (Copyblogger)
  • Over 50% of content consumption happens on a handheld device. These real estate starved devices lack space for anything more than a headline showing in your stream. It is more important than any other time since the Gutenberg Press to perfect the art of headline writing.
  • Upworthy.com brainstorms up to 25 headlines for each piece of content. The perfect headline can increase traffic by over 500% according to their analytics. (Upworthy)
  • STOP using you, your, you’re, must or need or risk a 20%+ drop in clicks (Outbrain)

Learn more: 9 Irrefutable Laws for Writing Irresistible Headlines

2. Include Images

  • Color visuals increase the willingness to read content by 80% (Xerox)
  • Visuals positively affect participation (reading, clicks, shares, purchases) by 80% (New York University)
  • The vast majority of knowledge held by adults (75%) is learned through seeing. Hearing is the next most effective (about 13%) and the other senses – touch, smell and taste account for 12% of what we know. (Bangalore University)

Tutorial: Easily create branded images to include in your tweets.

3. Insert hashtags

Similar to keywords used for search optimization, hashtags help people discover your content in social. You can instantly become more visible and become part of a trending conversation.

  • Tweets with hashtags can increase engagement almost 100% (2x) for individuals and 50% (1.5x) for brands. (Twitter)
  • One or two hashtags appear to be the max. When more than two hashtags are used, engagement drops by an average of 17% (Buddy Media)
  • Tweets with one or more hashtags are 55% more likely to be retweeted (DanZarrella.com)

How to: Automatically convert Twitter headline keywords into hashtags

4. Post at the right time

New research is constantly coming out on when is the best time to post. Use the following as a guide; however keep testing to customize timing for your Twitter feed.

  • 32.6% of all social shares occur on the weekend (TrackMaven)
  • Social media shares were highest for posts published between 9 pm and midnight EST (TrackMaven)
  • Retweets have been shown to be highest around 5 pm (KISSmetrics)
  • Click-throughs on Tweets spike between noon and 6 pm (Argyle Software)

5. Keep it short

  • The optimal length of a tweet is 71 to 100 characters – leaving enough room for a retweet (SumAll)
  • The 100-character mark is the sweet spot for Tweet length (Track Social)

In both studies, Tweets at this length get more retweets. Retweets lead to more exposure and potentially more clicks.

6. Include triggers

  • Tweets with the words “via,” “@,” “RT,” “please” and “check” had the highest click-through rates (DanZarrella.com)
  • Tweets that use PaperLi’s generic intro “daily is out” had an average 30% CTR (DanZarrella.com)

7. Play tag

The most important thing to a person is their name. If you share content from another person, give them attribution – @{insert Twitter handle}, ex: @dlvrit. It not only acknowledges that person but also says you enjoyed their work. It shows thoughtfulness. It will also cause people to check your content and gain more followers.

Learn how to add unique tracking identifiers to your Twitter links. Adding a link is easy to do and will allow you to track the results when you test the above research.