We have more information in our pocket than ever before.
This information can be broken down into two categories:
- Longform content – Books, academic papers, podcasts, lectures, speeches
- Micro content – Summaries, quick clips, quotes, tweets
In this past, everyone would consume the longform content. (That was the only way to consume.)
But today, we consume primarily bite-sized micro content. (This is the easiest way to consume.)
This leaves a gap in the market. There are many people who would consume the longform content, but there isn’t enough time to possibly consume it all.
Welcome to Age of Micro.
Why does the Age of Micro exist in the first place?
The Age of the Micro exists because there is:
- More content than ever. There was a lot of information before the Internet.
- More accessibility than ever. People were making content about content before the Internet. Remember, the news? But the Internet allows anyone to do it.
- More platforms than ever. Social media networks now own a form of expression. If you want to appeal to aesthetics, go to Instagram. If you want to share your resume, go to LinkedIn. If you want to check on your neighbor, go to Facebook.
- Shorter attention spans. This leads us to check different platforms constantly. We constantly want to know the latest information, specifically as it relates to us. So people are checking these apps more than ever before.
In the Age of Micro, those who win will be the ones who not only produce great longer form content and ideas (think books, podcasts, academic papers), but those who distill those ideas into shorter forms (summaries, quick clips, quotes).
In this post, we’re going to explore a number of examples across the media of people who have successfully navigated the micro waters already.
They’ve taken larger pieces of content – something that most people don’t have the time for – and created their own place around their specific forms of micro.
Let’s dive into the examples so you can see how this can relate to something you’re interested in.
George Mack steals shamelessly
George Mack does one thing really well: he steals people’s ideas.
He doesn’t actually steal them.
But what he does is pretty incredible: he synthesizes intelligent people’s ideas into tweets in order to help you gain more knowledge.
Many of his threads make me say, “Ohhh” or “I didn’t know that about that person” or “Wow, that really works that way?”
Here’s the best part:
George doesn’t need to find new information. He doesn’t need to come up with something entirely new. He only needs to find what already exists, and deliver it in a way that is interesting and valuable to people.
Some of his threads have thousands of likes. Hundreds of comments. He clearly provides incredible value.
And all he’s doing?
Synthesizing the information he comes across and understandable for the entire world.
For example, his thread features Shopify CEO Tobi Lutke’s six favorite mental models.
George has found a way to duplicate his synthesis. His two twitter bots @navalbot and @nntalebbot both have more than 20,000 followers. These accounts simply tweet insights directly from Naval Ravikant and Nassim-Nicholas Taleb.
Joe Rogan’s short-form sensation
Joe Rogan runs a YouTube account called JRE Clips.
His podcasts run anywhere from one hour (on the short side) to three hours (on the more normal occasion).
A heavy investment in time in today’s digital age.
So Joe (or someone on his team) decided to micro his own content. It turned out to be a brilliant decision.
As of this writing, the JRE Clips account has over 2.7 billion views. (For reference, Joe’s main account, PowerfulJRE has less – “only” 2.2 billion views.)
The micro account helps people get a taste of Joe’s podcast. It serves as a way to help people consume Joe’s long-form without having to spend hours.
As a result, the account grew at a tremendous pace.
Omar Raja takes over the sports world
Omar Raja has been practicing the art of the micro since July 2014.
The 20-year-old sophomore started posting sports clips on an Instagram account he originally called The Highlight Factory while a student at the University of Central Florida. A week later, he changed the name to House of Highlights.
Since then, the account has garnered more than 17.5 million followers.
He started the account as a way to post his favorite highlights after LeBron James left his beloved Miami Heat.
Within two years, LeBron himself was following Omar’s account.
It was a startling reality.
Omar understood the power of the micro. He was able to break down the best moments from every game. As a result, he gained a massive following, met his idols, and toured the globe.
Omar could have asked these players for interviews. He could have tried for two years to send these players messages. Instead, he acted as a synthesizer for sports information. As a result, the players started coming to him. (He regularly receives messages from players requesting for his account to post certain clips.)
Derek Sivers outlines his books
Derek Sivers posts book notes for all the books he reads.
It serves two purposes:
(1) It allows readers to find out what books they should read next.
(2) It allows new people to find his site.
He uses the micro by taking the best knowledge from all the books he reads and turns it into an ingestible, micro form people can enjoy.
Any fool can press the copy and paste button. And you can press the copy and paste button and still garner interest in your account.
But the best results come when you synthesize the material from your perspective.
Omar Raja adds captions. George Mack distills wisdom. Derek Sivers produces summaries.
These might appear as small differences. I mean, you might be thinking, “what difference does it make if Omar writes his caption with or without an emoji?” But the emojis are indications of Omar’s voice.
The small changes you make to the content when you splice your content makes a big difference.
Even behind a screen, you still have a voice. An authentic way people know your style. It could be the way you use certain emojis. Or maybe it’s the way you write sentences. Or it could literally be your own voice (if you’re producing videos). People then start associating that content with your voice.
That’s the ultimate distinction. Adding your own specific spin on something and bringing it down a shorter form.
Where Do You Go From Here?
First, you find the longer form content you would have consumed anyway. The stuff that you enjoy for fun.
Then, you choose your platform (Twitter, Facebook, YouTube) and put your own spin on the content. It doesn’t have to be so different but make it your own.
For example, I put all my notes out there for the world to see because I would have consumed this content anyway.
This is the stuff I enjoy reading, learning, listening to regardless if anyone is watching or not.
I assume Omar, George, and Derek didn’t say to themselves, “Hmm, I wonder how I can make a lot of money. I’m going to take longer form content and make it into shorter content.” (And I don’t even know if they make a lot of money from their work.)
They all do it for the love of their own specific content.
Without the Internet:
George Mack would have studied thinkers
Omar Raja would have watched sports.
Derek Sivers would have read books.
Now, we can all benefit from their interests. The world is waiting to benefit from your interests too.