Could snackable content improve your Insight communication?

A bowl of fresh strawberries is a quintessential image of the British Summer.


A colourful representation of our bountiful growing season and, of course, Wimbledon.


At this time of year it’s almost impossible to pop into a supermarket and leave without grabbing a punnet of strawberries. Usually on display in a prime location as soon as you walk through the doors, they’re eye catching, attractive, and make for an easy healthy snack.


What if we could apply this approach to our Insight communications? What if we could display insights to our various audiences of decision makers and stakeholders in attractive, bite sized, easy to digest formats? This approach of creating ‘snackable content’ is becoming more popular.


Snackable content can increase the impact of your Insight communication

We have seen evidence that snackable content can be helpful for Insight teams when thinking about how to make their communication impactful. The Insight leader of one of our Insight Forum member organisations recently explained that their team has started adopting the term ‘Is it snackable?’ as a way of challenging how they present their information. They report very positive results. This approach is pushing them to become better at distilling key messages and putting them across in a more influential way.


Another example is from a Head of Insight for a confectionery company who talked to us about when he had a real light bulb moment. He said “We knew everything there was to know about how often a consumer had to see adverts of 10-30 seconds in length before it embedded and prompted behaviour. But in Insight we still sat people down for an hour or more, just once, and bombarded them with data, expecting them to take action off the back of it.” As a result, he created the equivalent of a media plan, drip feeding many of his key messages on a short and frequent basis, and reported a very positive effect.


Just make sure that your Insight snacks don’t spoil your stakeholders’ appetite

Snackable content makes sense. In a world where everyone has access to more and more information, if you want to grab attention you have to stand out from the crowd and do it quickly. So far so good. But in adopting this approach for Insight communication, is there something we’re missing?


Perhaps snackable content works just fine when we’re skim reading the news headlines or making an on the spot purchasing decision as a consumer. But we know that Insight only has real impact when it’s used to drive action on the big decisions within our organisations. Without the detail behind the headlines, is there a risk that our stakeholders are making important decisions based on a superficial understanding?


In this article, Paul Jacobson equates snackable content to junk food and suggests that senior decision makers actually prefer ‘long lunches’. To summarise some of his key points:

  • A recent study by the National Center for Biotechnology Information found that the average attention span is getting remarkably shorter, down to just 8.25 seconds in 2017 from 12 seconds in 2000. But Jacobson questions whether we need to make our content more snackable because of this, or is it just a factor of people having so much unsubstantial material pumped at them that they become more selective and therefore only give many things a second or two?
  • What’s really happening here is that you are churning out the equivalent of junk food that your audience is snacking on. They feel as if their hunger for knowledge and insight is sated, not realizing that there is little nutritional value
  • People are more likely to share long-form articles than sound-bites, suggesting that they really do appreciate the full meal rather than the junk food snack.

Jacobson concludes that we shouldn’t be lured into the trap of taking serious output and diminishing its value by making it snackable.


How do you achieve a healthy balance between ‘snacking’ and ‘long lunches’?

We believe the answer lies in your approach to Insight communications planning. We advise Insight leaders to ‘think like a marketing director’ and develop an Insight marketing strategy. Included in this will be an overall Insight communications plan. Your plan will need to consider different audiences by Insight theme, channel, format and timing.


Drawing up an integrated Insight communications plan will help you to optimise your communication efforts. For example, it might allow you to identify where one communication activity can serve the needs of several audiences; it can ensure that timings complement other business processes such as the annual budget or strategic planning round; it can help avoid overloading some stakeholders with too many messages at once, or turning people off by using the same communication format too many times.


Ultimately, snackable content can be a powerful tool for cutting through the noise of information overload, but as with all methods of communication it’s not a one size fits all solution. The key is to always consider your audience first and foremost.


How the IMA can support your Insight team

If you would like to find out more about how to improve the effectiveness of your team's Insight communication, our best practice report on this topic provides detailed guidance.

If you believe that your team could benefit from learning more about how to improve the effectiveness of their Insight communication, we can offer a 1 day training workshop. Training can of course be tailored to your organisation's specific needs, and flexible consultancy offered to any Insight leader seeking guidance. For more information on our range of training workshops click here.

If your organisation is a member of the IMA's Insight Forum, we can arrange an Insight communications training workshop for your team as part of your membership benefit of two company visits per year. Please contact us if you would like to find out more.