How to create a buzz with ephemeral content

OK let’s get the elephant out of the room first. What exactly is ephemeral content?

Put simply, it is temporary content. Content that either disappears or becomes no longer relevant after a certain period of time: typically 24 hours.

Ephemeral content is usually based on rich media, either images or videos. Its transient nature gives it a sense of immediacy and urgency and very much taps into the psychology of FOMO – Fear Of Missing Out.

In this article we look at:

  • Where can you use ephemeral content
  • Examples of ephemeral content
  • How to create successful ephemeral content
  • What are the advantages and disadvantages

Where to use ephemeral content

Increasingly it is ephemeral content that sustains the traffic of most social media platforms. The main social media platforms for ephemeral content at the moment are Instagram stories, Facebook stories and Snapchat. Whether you are a digital marketing agency or an in-house marketer you may want to consider recommending or implementing a separate strategy specifically for ephemeral content marketing as well as continuing regular social channel content.

Examples of ephemeral content

Scroll through any of the above social media platforms and you will find many examples of ephemeral content. A few brands that you may want to look into in more depth are:

  • Men’s Health Magazine Australia: uses ephemeral content such as simple teaser headlines and engaging images to increase traffic to the content on its website.
  • Katy Perry: used 72 hours of behind the scenes access to the artist prior to the launch of her new album.
  • Adele: the first hint of her third album “25” was a 30-second clip of “Hello” during a commercial break in The X Factor, with no explanation. This generated much speculation and anticipation, providing the ideal environment in which to announce the new album.
  • Sarah Wilson: the Australian journalist and author of “I Quit Sugar” uses the Instagram Stories feature to temporarily showcase exclusive recipes and generate interest.
  • GoodnessMe Box: used ephemeral content to drive subscriber growth by promoting an exclusive e-book.

How to create successful ephemeral content

  1. Storytelling
    People respond well to storytelling so this is an excellent tactic to use. But given that there are an estimated 250 million stories on social media everyday, you need to find ways to make yours stand out. Plan your story before you start and reveal it bit by bit so that your audience gets hooked. Know the audience that you are targeting so that you can make the content more personal to them. Make sure that you tell the story in the manner and language that your audiences understands best.
  2. Choose the best format
    As we saw earlier, most ephemeral content is rich media, either images or videos. The best format for you largely depends mainly on the products or services you provide. Still images can convey information at at a glance whereas video clips are invaluable at demonstrating how something works. When you plan your story, you also need to plan how many images you will need or how long each piece of video content needs to be.
  3. A clear call to action.
    When planning your story you also need to decide what action you’re hoping your audience will take when they’ve viewed your content. You then need to create a sense of urgency in your audience to encourage them to do that here and now. Highlight the fact that this content is only available for a short period of time by adding time-related words such as “hurry”, “immediately” and “instant” to your content copy. Also create a sense of exclusivity by telling your audience that the offers you are now sharing are not available anywhere else and are only for a selected group of people.
  4. Engage influencers
    Ephemeral content is even more effective when you can work in tandem with influencers in your sector. So identify brands or individuals who are doing either similar work to you or doing something that dovetails with what you do. Then either try to get them to feature your brand or your story in their content or mention them in yours. Hopefully by referencing each other you can both benefit and increase your audience and reach.
  5. Keep the flow
    It is logical that if you are posting content that either disappears or loses relevance quickly then you will need to post more content more often. You also need to constantly check that the content is relevant and purposeful, and meets your original aims: the risk of posting content quickly and en masse is that it can lose focus.
  6. Encourage user-generated content (UGC)
    Don’t fall into the trap of thinking ephemeral content is a one-way flow of information. It is also incredibly valuable to encourage UGC, whereby the user acts on behalf of your brand. This may be in the form of creating or editing a brand-related image, or telling their own brand-related story.
  7. The advantages of ephemeral content

    1. Immediacy of response
      One of the main strengths of ephemeral content is that it can achieve a more immediate response from the viewer. Whether this is to share the content, react to it, sign up to something or make a purchase it will happen instantaneously.
    2. Increased user engagement
      Ephemeral content enables you to build a more intimate relationship with your audience and for them to engage with your brand on a more personal level. It can portray the sense of exclusivity and give the user a greater sense of connection.
    3. Greater loyalty
      Ephemeral content gives you the opportunity to be more authentic, and give consumers a greater insight into the inner workings of your business. Today’s social media audiences are increasingly savvy and expect to see transparency. Enabling them to experience up close and personal the culture of your company and all that goes on behind the scenes day to day is a great way to build loyalty.
    4. Reach wider audiences
      Ephemeral content is rapidly growing in popularity. For example, Instagram stories is just 2 years old but has resulted in Instagram now having 400 million daily users. Every story you post on any social media platform will most probably increase your overall reach. You can capitalise on this even more by incorporating UGC – which is particularly popular with millennials.
    5. Content: less is more
      A carefully planned ephemeral content strategy can facilitate the production of a greater amount of content with less effort and lower costs. The use of images and video can make it easier to get your story in front of your audience quickly and to share a continuous stream of visual media that is separate from your newsfeed. Once you implement an effective ephemeral content strategy and get in the flow of preparing and creating visual material you will be able to generate a greater volume of content than just using text.
    6. The disadvantages of ephemeral content

      So what is the snag? Are there any drawbacks to ephemeral content? Well, not that many. The main thing to recognise is that if you are going to use ephemeral content marketing it needs to be done well, and this means that you will need to keep producing engaging content, often on a daily basis. So you will need the financial and technical resources to be able to do this.

      You will also need a clear long-term strategy to ensure that your ephemeral content is kept relevant and purposeful and to a high standard. Otherwise you run the risk of it losing impact and becoming regarded as “easy come, easy go” rather than respected and remembered.

      So whether you are considering using ephemeral content for one of your own campaigns or are a digital marketing agency advising a client we hope that this article has given you an overview of its benefits and where to start. We will be featuring further examples of effective ephemeral content marketing over the coming months so do check back here soon!