In January 2019, Contently, a content marketing platform that connects business brands with independent talent, surveyed more than 1,000 people in the US about their marketing and media preferences. What they discovered about the length of people’s preferred content broke a seemingly unshakable convention that longer is always better: 75% of people prefer to read articles of less than 1000 words.. With our diminishing ability to focus on certain tasksContently’s discovery makes perfect sense. Writing shorter articles is better because people prefer to consume that type of content. However, longer articles tend to rank higher in Google and generate more visits to the website because these types of resources are more comprehensive and better equipped to solve the intention of the search engine. So how do you reconcile these two ideas, and when is it appropriate to create concise content? Fortunately, the answer is in the microblogging.
<h2>What is microblogging?</h2> Microblogging refers to the act of creating concise posts for short interactions with the audience, often on common microblogging platforms like Twitter and Tumblr. In addition to text, a microblog post can include links, audio, images, and even video. This form is best used when: The topic or post has low search intent but high potential for virality. You want to take advantage of communities on common microblogging platforms. You are covering a live event or providing timely updates. You are using your microblog as a vehicle to deliver multimedia content without a lot of attached text. The enigma becomes how you can create a microblog without filling your site with <a rel="nofollow noopener noreferrer" target="_blank" href="https://yoast.com/what-is-thin-content/">thin content</a>, which can actually hurt your site when it comes to searches because Google considers these pages to be of low value. While not necessary (as the FiveThirtyEight example below demonstrates), most microblogging occurs on platforms specifically designed for that purpose. <h2>Microblogging sites</h2> Twitter Tumblr Pinterest Instagram Facebook LinkedIn
Twitter, the OG of microblogging sites, is not only one of the most popular microblogging sites, it is also one of the most popular social media platforms. On Twitter, you can create a profile that contains all of your posts or tweets. In your Tweets, you can include text, links, photos, videos, GIFs, audio, and more. Each of your Tweets also has a 280 character limit. Additionally, you can reply and share, or retweet, other users’ tweets.
With more than 496 million different blogs, Tumblr is a bustling hub for short-form content. On the microblogging site, you can create a blog and include links, text, photos, GIFs, videos, Spotify tracks, MP3 files, and more in your posts. When you follow other blogs, their posts will appear in your dashboard. You can also comment and post other blog posts on your own blog.
Unlike most microblogs, Pinterest is purely visual. On your profile, you can create Boards, which are collections of selected images around a specific topic, post Pins of your favorite images, and add Tries, which are notes and photos of ideas you tried, such as new recipes you cooked or new places you I travel to. You can also follow other people’s profiles and topics, which are the most popular forums that cover specific topics.
While Instagram is primarily a visual platform, like Pinterest, Instagram also allows you to add 2200 character long subtitles to every photo or video you post on your profile. Some media outlets are even taking advantage of Instagram to start a new phase of journalism that focuses on crafting visually appealing articles. On Instagram, you can follow other popular profiles and hashtags, discover new content based on your user behavior and popular topics, watch long videos and Instagram stories, comment on posts, tag your friends in posts, and send them direct messages.
You may know Facebook as the most popular social network in the world. But it is also the most robust microblogging platform out there. On Facebook, you can create a profile where you can share updates based on text, photos, GIFs, videos, an emotion that you are feeling, an activity that you are currently doing, and your current location. You can also ask for recommendations on where to go when you are about to visit a place, tag friends and events in your updates, poll your friends, support and donate to a nonprofit, answer a question about yourself, create fun lists, Post Facebook stories, Record live video, interact with your friends’ updates, send messages, call and video chat with them, start groups with them, create events, watch long videos, sell and buy products and play games.
LinkedIn is a social media platform geared towards business professionals, but it nonetheless has a powerful microblogging arm. Not only can you use LinkedIn’s posting functionality to post articles, but you can also use status updates for short-form microblogs. With these status updates, you can share a photo, video, event, or link … or you can choose to post something longer. Everything you share or interact with can be found on your profile under “Activity”. As you’ve probably already noticed, most of the above microblogging sites are also the most popular social media sites, but this should come as no surprise. People love scrolling through social media because they can consume cans of snacking content in no time. And marketers must take advantage of this information and apply it to their content strategy. Because, just like eating a bag of Doritos, you never stop after the first chip.
Examples of microblogs
So you know when microblogging works and the common platforms where it takes place. But what do you end up posting? Get inspired by some of these amazing microblogs:
Liz Ryan is a thought leader in the HR space and is known for her Ask Liz Ryan series, where people submit their burning questions about her career. Common topics include job hunting, wage bargaining, and toxic workplaces. His LinkedIn posts include these stories as well as helpful HR tips in a concise microblog format. She actively encourages the participation of her followers to create a rich community where people share their stories.
The magic realism bot on Twitter automatically generates a premise for a magic story every four hours. Followers can use them as writing messages for their own projects or just enjoy the absurdity it creates. Magic Realism Bot fully serves its purpose in less than 280 characters, which makes it a great example to demonstrate that long form is not always the form for a content project.
Etsy is an e-commerce platform where independent creators and collectors can list their products for sale. Because Etsy provides this service and generates income from transactions, it is in their best interest not only to promote themselves as a platform, but also the products that can be found there. In this kind of scenario, casual browsing is a powerful tool, which is why they use Pinterest as a microblog showing various gems from Etsy sellers. This tactic doesn’t work like a long-form blog, and the goal is not organic traffic, but rather getting the attention of potential customers on Pinterest.
FiveThirtyEight is a website founded by analyst Nate Silver that covers survey analysis, politics, and economics. On November 3, 2020, his election coverage took the form of a microblog, posting bite-sized updates on the status of vote counts and projections on the distribution of the electoral vote, as well as expert comments. Unlike the other microblogs on this list, FiveThirtyEight used its own website to host its microblogging posts, with all election coverage accessible on one page. This helped keep users on your site while providing a good user experience when it came to updating for more information as information leaked live.
Will Lucas uses LinkedIn to share information on entrepreneurship and growth. While many of his posts include links to his initiatives, as well as status updates from some of his companies, he also uses LinkedIn’s microblogging functionality to deliver video content that brings value to his audience.
As a study guide website for humanities classes, SparkNotes’ goal with its marketing is to reach its target audience of high school and college students. The content on your website is aimed at students looking for something specific. However, they use Twitter as a micro-blog that takes a different approach: it uses a viral approach that relies on humor and relationship to raise awareness, gain engagement, and increase reach.
The Humans of New York project uses Instagram to highlight real stories about real New Yorkers. Each Instagram post works like a little piece about someone that photographer Brandon Stanton meets. Because these folks aren’t famous, there’s not a lot of search intent, so it doesn’t need to take the form of a typical blog post indexed by a search engine. Instead, Humans of New York relies on the visual aspect of the site to humanize its subjects with short articles that range from poignant to absurd, heartbreaking to funny. Using the blogging vs. microblogging tips and examples above for inspiration, start crafting a content strategy that uses form to reflect your purpose so that it can be as useful as possible to your audience. Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in May 2019 and has been updated for completeness.