The 6 Elements of Snackable Content

When asked to define snackable content, many marketers will use the infamous quote: “I know it when I see it.

This is because the definition of snackable content lacks clearly defined parameters. This can give the term a subjective meaning. Even I’ll define it here in simple terms.

“Content is snackable when it is designed
for simple and flexible audience consumption.”

The content’s overall design makes it easier to consume and the audience more likely to consume it. It extends from the story and includes how the content is transmitted and shared.

As many as six different factors can make content snackable. And while all six aren’t required for content to be considered snacakable, they are all part of the broader content experience.

1. Story: Does the article tell the audience a story or sell them a product? Even the most basic story framework (beginning, middle and end) can help ensure useful content is created for the audience.

2. Headline: A good headline grabs reader attention — not to mention Google’s. Timely headlines that are informed by the editorial strategy are key. Other best practices from Outbrain include headline word count, headlines asking readers a question, using a colon in the headline and serving up an odd-numbered list of tips on a topic.

3. Visuals: Research shows we process visuals more quickly than text. In addition to helping reduce word count, visuals draw in the reader by grabbing their attention and creating interest in learning more. Visuals also help the content stand out when it’s being shared over social networks. Whether an article has a relevant photo accompanying it, or the visual is an infographic and the focus of the article, visuals help generate click-thrus. While BuzzFeed exemplifies many of the snackable factors we’re identifying here, a quick visit to their site will tell you that photos are definitely part of this “viral content machine’s” recipe for generating reader engagement.

4. Sharing: According to ShareThis, more than 5.5 million GB of content is shared daily. Earned content syndication through sharing is critical to content marketing success. Sharing that’s responsive to any device should be standard, making it dead simple for users to pass your content along to its network. Minimizing the steps required to share is also critical — one click too many may prevent the audience from sharing it at all.

5. Graphic Design: Even if the best content is armed with the above items, without good graphic design, it won’t matter. A site can make content look its best by applying a mix of aesthetic and utility to attract readers and making it easy for them to browse and consume. Twitter joined Facebook recently in making its news stream more flexible. Instead of having to leave the site to watch a video or view images, everything takes place in stream.

6. Flexible: Responsive design makes it easier than ever to be compatible across platforms. But you can’t rely on this when it comes to publishing content. If you’re not testing the mobile experience first, you’re risking missing the largest window you have with an audience — downtime. From the daily commute to unexpected delays that take place throughout the day, a quick read on the smartphone tends to be the way to optimize this time. Your content must be ready for these moments.

Even Long Form Content Can Be Snackable
You’ll notice I never mentioned the length of an article as an ultimate consideration as to whether or not it’s snackable. Consider a new breed of stories like the New York Times’ “Snow Fall” or Memphis Commercial Appeal’s “6:01.” These long-form stories are designed to serve as a meal in several courses instead of a buffet. They keep reader attention with individual pieces of content, including large visuals and video back story, while leading readers through the larger story.

More than ever, good content is multifaceted — representing the convergence of editorial, design and development. Considering all three when it comes to content creation — snackable content in particular — is critical.

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David Germano
David Germano

David is the VP of Content Marketing for Empower Media Marketing, and runs Empower's Content Marketing division, Magnetic Content Studios. For more than 14 years, David has been helping brands develop sustained content marketing strategies and operate like media to build their own audiences. David is often speaking on the topic, and is a guest contributor to Content Marketing Institute.