Micro vs. Macro Moments: Utilizing Need-States to Shape Effective Content Strategies

Try to recall the last time you engaged with digital content. Chances are, you won’t have to think too hard since we’re constantly reviewing, receiving and sending content. Maybe you emailed an article about Buddhism to your mother-in-law. Maybe you looked up product reviews in the store while you were deciding whether or not to purchase something. Maybe you shared Target’s recent Facebook post about its exclusive Star Wars offer. Maybe you’re…taking the time to read this article. Consuming and sharing digital content is simply a part of our existence that’s been integrated into our lives. Consume content. Share content. Repeat. Right?

From a content strategy perspective, however, things aren’t so cut and dry. We know that people are willing to engage with content but understanding the motivation behind when and why users search, engage or share is a different story altogether. Tapping into need-state psychology can help marketers create content strategies that are equal parts unique and effective.



Before we dive in—let’s talk content. The term “content marketing strategy” gets tossed around a lot, but what does it really mean? A content marketing strategy is a plan that’s both comprehensive and cohesive, comprised of many forms of media to tell your brand’s story. Think big, think broad, think long-term. A true content marketing plan is intrinsically diverse, creative and unique—and can’t be slapped together in a day.



While sharing and engaging with information clearly isn’t new in concept, it’s changed dramatically now that our physical and digital lives are seamlessly interlaced (thank you mobile devices). For most young adults, a mobile device is practically an extension of your hand; it’s with you night and day. With this in mind, Google has highlighted the significance of “micro-moments”—the short windows of time that users are actively on their mobile devices at any given time.

Micro-Moments & the ZMOT

In a micro-moment, users are in a semi-urgent need-state, like “I-want-to-know” or “I-want-to-buy”. Content that is immediate, informative and straightforward is valuable to users in micro-moments. They might want to know who is the best realtor in town, or which gluten-free flour to purchase while wandering in the grocery store. As Marcus Miller notes in his in his article SEO & The Zero Moment of Truth, users no longer have to experience a product or service first-hand to decide what they think of it. Ads, social media, search results and more create a “Zero Moment of Truth” where brands and products can gain favorability and authority (or a negative reputation) with the click of a button. In other words, the “Zero Moment of Truth” creates a new research stage in the buyer cycle nestled between stimulus and response.

Understanding this need-state can help content creators make valuable, quick content like a list-style blog post on choosing a realtor or a short explanation comparing different kinds of flour. These items can prove valuable to users in a micro-moment since they answer questions quickly, and can even be pulled into featured snippets in search to make users’ lives easier. What’s more, satisfying users’ needs in a micro-moment is an invaluable opportunity to gain trust—something that’s key to any effective content strategy.



On the flip side, it’s also important to have “macro-moments” in mind when planning your content strategy. Curiosity, boredom and relaxation fuel macro-moment search and engagement. The need-state is much less urgent than in a micro-moment. Maybe the user has 20 minutes to kill before a doctor appointment, or is unwinding from a long day by sitting on the couch scrolling through social media. Understanding macro-moments can help you expand the breadth and quality of your strategy by encouraging you to produce relatable, entertaining, and thoughtful content that’s valuable to users in macro-moments.

Why Macro-Moments Matter

To cater to consumers during macro-moments, content strategists can dig into insights from the New York Times’ . The right digital content at the right time packs a powerful punch with real-world results. The user’s relationship to content is a rather personal connection. Motivations vary, but sharing content helps consumers to define themselves, strengthen their relationships with those around them and gain a greater sense of self-fulfillment. According to the New York Time’s study, 68% of people share content because they want to give others a better sense of who they are and what they care about, and a whopping 94% of people carefully consider how what they share will be helpful to their audiences.

With this information in hand, it’s important to make sure that your overall strategy includes content that appeals to all motivations—not just one or two. While a cute Facebook post every now and again can be a strong asset as part of an overall plan, your strategy shouldn’t just consist of humor and . Utilizing blogs, articles, various forms of advertising, interactive images, videos and more help you to reach more people at more “moments.” Moreover, diversifying your platforms and mediums of content distribution allows you to establish trust more thoroughly and in different ways.



Content consumption varies from person to person, day to day, from industry to industry. Meeting consumers in both micro-moment and macro-moment need-states can prove to be invaluable. Understanding the psychological motivation behind your consumers’ needs moment-to-moment will help you plan and create a content strategy that’s multifaceted, diverse and effective.