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Who Is The Real Winner Of The Debate On “Snackable” Versus Long-form Content?


Snackable content and its long-form counterpart have often been compared to fast food and a proper sit down meal. In debates past, some experts even dubbed snackable content as the “junk food of marketing”.

A re-cap: snackable content is bite-size pieces of content meant to tackle the pain point of shortening consumer attention spans. The aim is also to capture immediate business leads. Infographics, less than 30-sec videos, quotes, memes and GIFs are some examples.

For about 8 years now, content creators, marketers, SEO and assorted experts have been debating the promises and perils held out by these two forms of content. Content purists will have nothing to do with this “millennial creature” whose creators dare harbor the notion that a few words or a caricature are “good enough” to enthrall people.

Though part of the ecosystem, I’ve listened to the arguments by both sides from the sidelines without actually participating. That’s because I started off as a long-form writer in an era when there was no such word in a writer’s lexicon, and as such feel I am a compromised party.

But here are some interesting observations:

1) If there was no World Wide Web, there would (almost) be no short-form content.

2) It would also have not been so rampant if technology had not been democratized.

3) Social media made snackable content enter public consciousness.

4) Digital marketing and its myriad ways allow it to breed.

5) The proliferation is because the demand exists (the most important fact).

6) Much of such “snacking” is done in the B2C world than the B2B one.

7) Has a far shorter shelf-life than any other form of content.

8) Does not rank much on search engines.

9) Helps generate immediate RoI.

10) Occasionally helps in overcoming the information overload hurdle.

(In point 1, I’ve said “almost” because prior to the www, there were ads, TV spots and so on, which were the old-world version of snackable content.)

Here’s what I feel: there’s no reason to pick one and ditch the other. Refer to point 5: the condensed content form continues to be popular because there’s a demand for it. There’s no denying that. We also cannot wish away the fact that we live in a highly digitalized world, one that relies in a major way on technology to give you what you want.

Brand managers, and consumers even, need to understand this. Both forms — snackable content and the long-form — can co-exist; nay, they must. Each has a different set of rules that can be used to positively maneuver the brand in public space.

I look at it like this, since food is the metaphor often used in this debate: short-form content can be used by marketers as an appetizer. It can be finger food, starters, or could even be the first course in your content spread to pique the interest of your audience. In marketing terms, snackable content may be used as part of overarching campaigns.

But to win brand loyalty, a mere starter, however, lip-smacking, is not enough. A smart manager can use it to whet the appetite of his intended audience and lead them on to a satisfactory “wholesome meal” (brand experience). You use snackable content as bait to cut through all that digital noise, and then reel in the line with the catch.

The tactic will fail though if there’s no value offered. Value can be in any form: information, entertainment, a nugget of data ….but any form of content, irrespective of length, will malfunction if it does not help the intended audience one way or the other.

So, as a marketer, rather than agonize over the size of the content, you could do well to fuss over what benefits your piece of content offers to your audience. Clearly, in this instant, size does not matter.

Image by Steve Buissinne from Pixabay

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