Is the charm of what is brief a passing trend?

22-01-2018 | Redacción CEU

Getting attention in just a few seconds, increasing engagement thanks to formats with an expiration date and meeting the demand of immediacy being concise. Snapchat, Whatsapp, Instagram and Facebook have bet on the push of the brief until now. Is it there where the secret of the audience recruitment lies? Big social network companies seem to believe this and have encouraged users and companies to the creation of content in small doses, easy to consume and share, and that just as it comes, it goes. According to the saying, the good, if brief, would be twice as good. Is this really an infallible strategy in digital marketing? Will this trend be as fleeting as the briefness of its format?

 

Do you know what are the trending topics of each day? Has a friend sent you a video on WhatsApp and you said that you saw it last week? Do you usually share "stories" every week and use selfie filters in your videos? So, you are part of what marketers call "Generation Hit". A group of people who are not characterized by their status, condition or age, but by their behavior. They are users that jump from one digital content to another in the blink of an eye, that appreciate the value of the ephemeral and everything that can be communicated fast, that do not need details, and that let themselves be carried away by viral posts. It is evident that the brief, whether in time or in format, causes furor among this group of population.

Is this an impatient society?

Many young people did not get to know the world without computers or cellphones. Many children at the age of two already handle some technological devices in a surprising way. Digital natives relate to the digital world in a natural way. Their time conception is different. It has been said to millennials and Gen Z that their development in a hyperconnected and digitized environment has favored their disproportionate desire for immediacy, but this lack of tolerance for waiting is not exclusive to young people.

Texting a WhatsApp, buying online or consulting a question to your cellphone is easier, more convenient or faster than calling by phone, going to a store or looking for something in a book. In general, the population has become accustomed to complete many tasks that once involved effort and time, but that are now completed in a few seconds. Technology has led to shorten processes and management. On the other hand, our day-to-day is more complex and time has become a very precious resource. It is not surprising that in an accelerated context that demands immediacy, the star content is short, easy to consume and ephemeral.

Is the charm of what is brief a passing trend?

"Stories": the triumph of the ephemeral

Short videos, GIFs, micro-content, ephemeral messages, etc., a large part of the formats that marketing professionals now work on, satisfy the need of immediacy and easy consumption demanded by users. They do not want them to waste their time but, at the same time, they want to satisfy their expectations and get their attention –for example, that is the case of the bumper ads–. One of the platforms that knew how to move this context to its particular universe was Snapchat. This application was pioneer in the development of a transgressor strategy of communication: the ephemeral narrative. Its "stories" captivated millions of people and they did not go unnoticed by the rest of the competitors. Such was the success of this new posting format with expiration date that Instagram, Facebook, Whatsapp and, finally, YouTube would develop their own version.

The "stories" are a perfect example of how the short and ephemeral format fits and works into this new social reality. These short posts allow users to tell new things every day in a simple way and with the peculiarity that these publications do not last long –they also feed the FOMO syndrome, "fear of missing out"–. Companies have also been interested in this format, especially at Instagram, thanks to the "stories", they get a better performance, impact and dynamism. It is a good way to get the attention of users, using the same "language" and without wasting their time.

The algorithm that changes the rules

Not long ago, Facebook penalized clickbaiting, a tactic that consisted of "throwing bait", like a headline that promised to reveal a secret, to achieve that users click on the posts. Then, they discover that posts provide little or no information about the promised content. This is another good example of how a fast consumption format manages to have an impact on the audience. Since then, the social platform is increasingly focused on the content and, as a result, has announced new changes in the algorithm that controls its NewsFeed. These modifications could make it difficult to obtain organic reach from the media and brands, because it will prioritize the publications from friends and family over the rest. Besides, it will also minimize the impact of the posts that it considers to force the interaction –such as "like if you are Aries"–.

A key strategy when multiplying the reach on Facebook is producing attractive short videos to get the attention of users and thus, reach the top of NewsFeed –do not forget that the company also launched its own version of "stories"–. But, like Inside Business publishes and PuroMarketing expounds, short videos may lose strength over longer formats. The past year, the platform opted for the launch of "Facebook Watch". The company wants users to spend more time in the social network and a good formula to achieve this is to prioritize the content served in that section. Some of the most important web editors consider that this could be a "death sentence" of the short video format on the NewsFeed.

As evidenced by the new Facebook's strategy, although the brief posts are fashionable, platforms can sometimes change, the rules of the game. For now, the brief remains a trend and it seems that this will continue for a long time. But, long formats with a careful storytelling can also be a good strategy when it comes to reach more people. Whatever the future of marketing is, quality will always make a difference.