What started as safe space for younger millennials and Gen Z, ephemeral content has steadily become a powerful marketing tool that more and more brands are starting to utilize.
While allocating resources towards creating content that disappears the following day may have seemed counterintuitive a few years ago, there is no doubting the importance for marketers to be on the ephemeral content bandwagon.
This article is designed to give you the low down on ephemeral content, what it can do for you, how it worked for other brands, and how you can create your own.
First Off, What Is Ephemeral Content?
In case you’re not familiar with the term – it’s essentially short-lived content, those that generally disappear after 24 hours.
With the proliferation of users and brands posting Instagram and Facebook Stories, it seems crazy now that it’s been some eight years ago when Snapchat founded the format.
What used to be a safe space for the young to share content with each other (without it haunting them later or their parents being on the platform) now has 191 million daily active users (DAU).
And since adopting the feature in late 2016 (with parent company Facebook following suit a few months later), Instagram Stories now has 250 million DAU, according to Brafton. Facebook Stories, on the other hand, has 150 million DAU.
Why Is It So Popular?
Ephemeral content is touted as one of the top social media trends to watch out for this 2019. This is due to the fact that it presents a wide array of benefits for marketers across a wide umbrella of brands:
There are many elements that have led to people gravitating towards ephemeral content, but one thing that always comes up is the yearning for authenticity.
According to a Stackla report, 86 percent of people consider authenticity a crucial element when deciding which brands they like and support. And the way Stories (or Snaps) provide users with raw, behind-the-scenes, or live content make it exponentially more authentic than highly-curated posts.
Fear of Missing Out also comes into play, particularly for influencers and brands. As noted by Mention, whether it’s a flash sale or a live look at an event, the fleeting nature of ephemeral content is a good motivator for people to actively seek it—or risk being left out of the fun.
From the end user’s perspective, because posts disappear out of public view the following day, people feel more comfortable posting ephemeral content. That way, they don’t have to worry about potentially embarrassing (and low production value) digital footprint.
Of course, there’s also the fact that Facebook and Instagram Stories are on top of the feeds, taking away the tedious task of scrolling down to consume content.
Ephemeral Content Strategy Tips
Capture their attention quick
According to RedStagFulfillment.com, a lot can happen in the internet economy – with an average of $3.9 million spent online worldwide in a span of 60 seconds. In line with that, Facebook video ads are viewed for an average of less than three seconds; so you really need to make sure that you’re able to make enough of an impact in the first few seconds to catch and hold users’ attention.
Maybe it’s an offer they can’t refuse, content they can’t see anywhere else, or an enticing CTA. Whatever it is, you only have a few seconds to engage with your audience, so make the most out of it.
Tell a story
One strategy to ensure engagement is to tell a coherent story.
Most users decide to skip a story within a second, so if you want that span to last, you can post a series of stories that lead to one story, CTA, or messaging. Keep in mind that when you become too repetitive, users will quickly lose interest in your Story bubble.
Be it a hashtag, an event/store’s location, or an influencer, tagging these in your ephemeral content increases your reach. This way, users searching for a particular location or hashtag can see your posts even if they’re not following you.
Humanize your brand
It can be a teaser of a new product, an event, or a brief look at the people that work for you—whatever it is, there’s a way to humanize your brand with your ephemeral content.
You can show product demos with your design team using your products for daily chores; go Live showing people at your event having a blast; or do what NASA does and show your employees telling a story about why it is you do what you do.
Brands That Are Killing It With Ephemeral Content
For Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation, Paramount Pictures created a campaign that featured self-destructing missions using Snapchat’s platform to highlight features of the Mission Impossible franchise. Essentially, fans were challenged via Snapchat to “Go Rogue” – giving them 24 hours to complete each mission. The top user-generated content were then showcased on the franchise’s social channels to encourage more participation.
As noted by Story Awards, the campaign resulted in 65 million total impressions. Not only were the content created by their audience, they got more exposure and engagement than they could’ve imagined.
The men’s fashion and pop culture portal displays a great understanding of what their audience likes with their use of Stories. They regularly come up with content like “10 Best-Dressed Men of the Week,” or “5 Items to Add to Your Wardrobe This Summer,” designed to drive content to their website and promote sponsored products.
It’s a perfect example of how understanding your audience can guide you into what kind of ephemeral content to craft, and how that can play into your marketing strategy.
While they’re neither a fashion or travel brand, GE has done a great job of utilizing ephemeral content by taking their audience to product shoots, or showing behind-the-scenes content of what goes behind their products.
In this example, they showed employees collecting data from an active lava lake. Exciting adventures may not be something you associate with GE, but their use of ephemeral content shows how far you can push the creative envelope to keep your audience engaged.
It’s truly amazing how quickly users have become comfortable with the ephemeral content format, with Instagram Stories increasing time spent on the platform from 15 to 32 minutes each day. So if you’re still not utilizing ephemeral content, you should start crafting a strategy ASAP.
When you do, make sure you understand where your target audience is, which social platform works best for your brand, and what types of content can be applied for your messaging. Just remember that whatever the marketing goal is, ephemeral content has allowed brands to be more creative than ever. Push the creativity content as far as you can – you’ll always have tomorrow to start anew.