Content Marketing Blog
Ephemeral content

Is ephemeral content the future of content marketing?

FOMO, or fear of missing out, can be a powerful force.

It can also be an effective content marketing strategy. When images, text and video are only available for a limited amount of time, your audience tends to be more engaged.

Last year, ephemeral content topped AdWeek’s list of social media trends that would have the biggest impact in 2018.

What is ephemeral content?

Ephemeral content is photos, videos and text that’s available for a window of time – up to 24 hours – and then disappears.

The concept took hold with Snapchat, which began in 2012 as an iOS app where users could exchange photos that would later vanish.

Since then, Snapchat has added chat, videos, stories and, as any avid user knows, ridiculously amusing filters to enhance your content.

Many of these changes have come as a result of increasing competition from other ephemeral content services, including Instagram stories, Facebook stories and Facebook Live.

Today, Snapchat has 173 million daily users and Instagram Stories – which was launched four years after their ephemeral predecessor –  has raced ahead with a whopping 250 million.

The benefits of ephemeral content

At first, people were doubtful that an app like Snapchat could possibly take hold. They were even more skeptical of its value to marketers.

After all, how much engagement can you get from something that only lasts for a brief time and then disappears forever?

Snapchat, however, and the ephemeral content services that came after have completely shattered this initially grim outlook. More than half (60 per cent) of Snapchat’s users contribute daily and the average in-app time per day is 30 minutes = impressive for an app where content is consumed so quickly.

Why do people like ephemeral content so much? It’s not just FOMO that keeps them logging in.

Ephemeral content is more authentic, As Snapchat founder Evan Spiegel wrote in the company’s first blog, “We’re building a photo app that doesn’t conform to unrealistic notions of beauty or perfection, but rather creates a space to be funny honest, or whatever else you might feel like at the moment”.

This level of authenticity – or at least the perception of it – can go a long way, particularly when you’re trying to reach a younger, more skeptical crowd. According to the Brookings Institute, 74 per cent of millennials don’t trust traditional advertising.

Ephemeral content is also novel and inherently more fun than other types of advertising. Simple filters and the addition of text also make posts feel that much more personalised.

Compared to traditional video, ephemeral content is much easier and less expensive to create, which allows you to publish more than you could if you needed professional assistance.

But, surely there are some drawbacks too?

Today, your user’s time is one of the most precious commodities on the Internet and ephemeral content is incredibly effective at capturing your audience.

That said, there are some limitations to the marketing power of disappearing content.

For one, it’s almost completely exclusive to social media, meaning if you don’t have much of a presence, you’ll need to establish one before you see any ROI.

For this reason, B2C businesses might find ephemeral content less effective.

If your audience isn’t following you on social media, you won’t get much traction from content you produce on the various platforms. Further, there’s a direct correlation between ephemeral content and influencer marketing. With niche, B2B industries, it can be more difficult to find well known faces to push your product or service.

So, is ephemeral content the future of content marketing?

Yes and no. While we wouldn’t go as far as to say ephemeral content will sweep through every industry, it does have some serious potential, particularly as apps continue to evolve.

Click-through, for example, has become incredibly easy on Snapchat and Instagram stories since the apps added a ‘swipe up to shop, learn or read more’ option to user content.

There are also different ad formats for different users, allowing you to tailor your ephemeral content strategy to your organisation’s goals and your budget.

Tips for getting the most out of ephemeral content marketing

Ready to give ephemeral content a go? Here are some pro tips if you’re just getting started:

  • Make a strong impact in a short amount of time. Facebook video ads are viewed for less than three seconds, on average, so make your content engaging from the start.
  • Show something your audience can’t see elsewhere. One of the reasons people prefer ephemeral content is that it feels more personalised, so don’t be afraid to go behind the scenes, focus on your employees or make special announcements.

  • Tell a story. Most of your users will view all of your posts at once, clicking through quickly. Be sure your posts are cohesive and not repetitive.
  • If you are a B2B marketer, you’ll need to get creative. While breaking into ephemeral content may be a bit trickier for these businesses, it’s not impossible, particularly if you post demos, question and answer sessions, tutorials and, of course, make your content very, very engaging.

Most of all, take the time to get to know your audience, which streaming tools they use most and what they want to see. This will help you develop the right ephemeral content strategy for your business.


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Natalie Fortier About the author