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Opinion and Insight
  • 193

Does Size Really Matter?

MNSTR, 7 months, 2 weeks ago

Huw Devine, Strategic Planning Director at MNSTR, on how brands can make the most out of micro-content

Does Size Really Matter?

In 2016, ‘small’ is set to be big on the agenda for brands.

Smaller screens. Smaller content. And a shrinking attention span also. Piecing these three forces together paints a picture of a culture where our interactions with, and consumption of media are increasingly bitesize — and increasingly shallow. We call this “micro-culture”.

So what does it mean for businesses and brands who’s objectives are still unequivocally big? Can we have macro-effect with micro-content — or is it all ‘buzz’ and no brawn?

My response starts 50 years before the advent of Twitter, where legend has it that Ernest Hemingway was challenged to tell a story that would bring his friend to tears, using just 6 words.

His response was as follows;

“For Sale, Baby Shoes: Never Worn.”

A big, compelling story in less than quarter the length of a single Tweet. And a great example of a belief at MNSTR; that the constraints that are increasingly placed around us in modern storytelling platforms — whether it’s 6 seconds or 140 characters — don’t hamper creativity, but actively fuel it.

A new service from Channel 4 in the UK is a great example of this. NewsWall takes the day’s biggest news stories, and squeezes them into one of the internet’s smallest and simplest medias — animated GIFs.

Take the (heart-breaking) story from a few months ago, that bacon and sausages are as carcinogenic as cigarettes. Traditional news outlets like the CNN and The Guardian covered the story with 663 and 893 words, respectively. NewsWall covered the story with just 15 words, coupled with a bespoke image.

With the two approaches laid side by side, we can ask some important questions; which one has the most impact? Which one are we most likely to remember a week later? Which one is likely to impact our behaviour?? These are, of course, overtly provocative questions — but they serve to illustrate the trade-offs at the heart of our tasks as micro-storytellers. 

What we lose in information, we can gain in impact. What we lose in depth of engagement, we can gain in breadth of engagement. And most interestingly, what we lose in size of content, we can gain in weight of context.

Snickers’ collaboration with Google illustrates the power of the trade between content and context perfectly. Built around the insight that “ Yu cant spel properlie wen hungrie”, the brand bid on misspellings of the 500 most commonly searched terms. Each time someone misspelled a word, they were given a tailored message to “Grab yourself a Snikkers” — transforming another one of the internet’s most humble of formats, the Google Ad itself, into the content.

With 500 thousand views in the first 2 days, the activation delivered a ‘small’ piece of content, and a big slice of attention. 

And more importantly showed that while in today’s micro-culture, content might be the new vehicle of a brand’s story, it’s context that provides the rocket fuel. So while for the most part audiences might not looking to engage with a chocolate brand online, Snickers have proved that if we can be in the right place, at the right time, maybe, just maybe, we can be of interest to people.

Perhaps it’s time for us to start thinking small. 

Huw Devine is Strategic Planning Director at MNSTR