Chances are you have already engaged and viewed “Blink & Miss” content from several Brands and influencers - it’s the Stories format on Snapchat, Instagram, and Facebook. Technically known as “Ephemeral Content”, it has a lifespan of 24 hours before disappearing from the platform, and as such, this kind of content might seem counterintuitive to social media marketing, or any kind of marketing at all – why would you invest your time and energy in creating something that’s going to disappear in a day? What if your audience doesn’t view it or engage in it?
Snapchat started this concept and made it famous, and then Instagram launched Stories which quickly became a super popular feature, boasting 400 million daily active users worldwide.
In this post, we’ll talk about why this format is so successful with audiences and 5 reasons how your brand should invest in ephemeral content:
1. Humanising the Brand
Whether it’s sharing behind the scenes of the team behind the brand, or the influencers using the product, or the mascots in a company event, or the office dog taking an afternoon nap, Stories give Brands an opportunity to give a face or relatable characters to the brand. You could try using the story function on Instagram to show off a company event, or maybe demonstrate a new product that’s just arrived. It’s the perfect area to be slightly less formal than your main page. A good example of this is ASOS introducing their Insiders (a team of influencers working for the brand), users can Follow their favourite Insider and shop their #OOTDs straight from Instagram.
Ephemeral Content is extremely relevant for promoting limited time offers, like Flash sales, Offers and Promotions. It instils a Fear of Missing Out (FOMO) in users and hence increases the chances of engagement and response from the audiences. Simply offering a tantalising reward — one swipe away — can lead viewers to take that (easy) extra step. For example, this Insta Story from Hopper is likely to get a lot of swipe ups, just because the audiences will be curious to find more details.
3. Surprise & Delight
Playing to Instagram’s strengths and crafting content that is astonishing will help bring your brand alive. Studies show that humans remember images based on how distinct (or Crazy) they are. And using the surprise and delight strategy helps keeps people engaged. A great example of this strategy is Samsung dropping its new smartphone into a fish aquarium to highlight the “water resistant” feature.
Ephemeral Content allows you to react and express your thoughts/feelings and excitement about an ongoing activity/event in a much more casual and informal way. So, while your newsfeed does deserve some effort and time to draft a formal/intricate post, you can in the meantime, use stories for the informal immediate reaction. Stories are also great when we have lot’s to show/share, and want to showcase more than one perfectly curated photo in the news feed.
A great benefit of using temporary content is that it’s pretty quick to make. Due to the personal, informal vibe that most ephemeral pieces have, the amount of time that goes into creating it is significantly lower than creating evergreen content. Creating a behind the scenes Snap series would take a lot less time, effort and resources as compared to creating a YouTube series with the same aim, for example. Live streaming is also relatively quick to set up, and is great to use for product launches or important events. Netflix published a 1 full-hour video of Cole Sprouse eating a burger. No, it’s not a joke. And yes, the video went viral: almost a million views and 6.6K comments.
Like all marketing strategies, ephemeral content will have limitations as well as advantages. Ephemeral content is here to stay, so if your audience includes an active and fast-paced segment why not include it in your organisation's marketing mix? Where the restrictions of ephemeral content can seem limiting, such as having a single window of time to tune in or content not as easily recyclable or searchable as other forms of marketing, it is inexpensive, authentic, and can result in great engagement from your most dedicated followers.