What is Ephemeral Content and Does Your Brand Need it?

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Digital marketing relies on numerous tactics to achieve its goals. From social media ads to content marketing, there are literally hundreds of ways to market your brand in the digital space. No matter how large or how small your business is, there’s a marketing tactic out there that will be perfectly in line with your message and your target audience.

Ephemeral content is but one of them – a tactic that capitalizes on human curiosity and our desire to remain in the loop.

Let’s explore what this type of content is and how it can help your business:

What is ephemeral content?

In a nutshell, ephemeral content is content with an expiration date. It is only available for a certain period of time, after which it disappears from the web.

It most often comes in the form of video or images – rarely do you see exclusively text used in ephemeral marketing.

While the term itself might sound new, the concept isn’t, and you are mostly likely engaging with this kind of content every day. Think of the Stories feature on Snapchat, Instagram, YouTube, and Facebook. We can also call content ephemeral if users tend to engage with it only once: view it, exhibit a response, and move on from it, never to return.

What kinds of marketing goals does ephemeral content work with?

Because of its short-lived nature, ephemeral content can help you achieve two specific digital marketing goals:

  • Boost user engagement – users are often more likely to like, share, comment and create their own response to ephemeral than “regular” content.
  • Illicit user response – ephemeral content taps into online users’ FOMO, the fear of missing out. As such, it can spark a more rapid response than other marketing avenues. For example, if a user sees a story announcing a discount code only valid for 24 hours, they will be much more likely to make a purchase on the spot.

What are the benefits of using ephemeral content?

The benefits of this kind of content again tie into its short shelf-life:

  • Appeals to a millennial audience 

Millennials appreciate this kind of advertising and brand engagement more than any other demographic, so if they are your target audience, this is definitely an avenue you should be exploring

  • Reaches wider audiences than other forms of social media marketing 

Stories (especially Instagram stories) are the most popular and widespread way people engage with content on the platform. More than 500 million people use Instagram Stories every single day, making it much more likely a story your brand puts out will be viewed, shared, and engaged with, as opposed to a regular post, or even a post on IGTV.

  • Allows you to boost your content production 

Stories are meant to be snippets, and as such, they are often much easier and more straightforward to create than any other type of online content. However, depending on their quality and the message you want to communicate, there might be more or less production involved in the process.

  • Increases user loyalty 

If you choose to share videos and images that convey your brand’s values and provide a unique insight into your days at the office, you’ll essentially let viewers feel they are entering your world. As a result, you will instantly be boosting their loyalty towards your brand. People like to shop from brands they feel they know and can trust, and ephemeral content is one of the best ways to evoke precisely those kinds of feelings.

What are the downsides of producing ephemeral content?

Despite all the benefits listed above, there are several challenges producing ephemeral content comes with:

  • Consistency 

In order to make ephemeral content work for you, posting every day is practically a must. That means that you basically need to shoot new images and videos every single day, which can be quite a challenge, especially if your marketing team is small.

  • Saturation 

Since Stories across most social media platforms are one of, if not the most popular way people engage with content, you will instantly find yourself surrounded by thousands of other circles people can choose to click on first. And although they truly are bite-sized chunks of content, consuming them still takes time. So if a user has dozens of options to choose from, your content may not be the one they end up spending time on.

  • Production 

While some of your ephemeral content can certainly be made on the fly and benefit from its raw and spontaneous nature, sticking out and sticking in the minds of your viewers will often require more effort. You’ll need to invest in a high-quality camera, some editing software, and there will be more time involved in putting together and posting your daily snippets. Using different templates and filters is also practically a must.

  • Cost 

All of the above means that the costs of producing and posting ephemeral content can climb pretty high: especially if you consider you also need to engage with the responses you receive in order to achieve the best results. Acquiring the funds for the initial costs (equipment, staff, tools) can be a bit of a challenge as well. 

However, as the ROI of ephemeral content is significant, and as you can’t afford to remain in the past when it comes to advertising, allocating a portion of your budget to this marketing avenue is certainly a wise investment. Looking into different types of finance options that can tide you over the initial investment should be all you need: as the engagement and conversions you generate will be enough to help perk up your marketing budget.

  • Long-term goals 

Even though it may seem you can produce stories on the fly, having a long-term marketing goal in place should still be the cornerstone of content production. Whether it is increasing sales, reaching a wider audience or marketing a new product or service, you do need to align what you put out with what you want to achieve – which will require time and research.

  • Shelf-life 

What makes ephemeral content so attractive is also what makes it a bit dangerous. Since your stories will vanish after 24 hours, if no one sees them, you have literally filmed them for nothing. Ensuring your audience actually engages with the content you so painstakingly produce is a challenge you may face early on. Tackle it before you start posting dozens of clips every day.

Best platforms to use for posting ephemeral content?

First and foremost, most certainly Instagram. If your brand does not lend itself well to image-based marketing, you can also utilize Snapchat and Facebook. Depending on the audience segment you’re trying to target, your target users may spend more or less time across these platforms, so some initial research is in order.

How to make the most of ephemeral content?

The key aspects of creating ephemeral content that attracts attention are:

  • Include your audience in your content and engage with them through comments, share their stories and posts, ask questions and run polls
  • Showcase your humanity and emphasize how relatable your brand is
  • Go live and don’t be afraid to just sit and chat with your viewers
  • Showcase behind the scenes videos of how your brand operates and how a product is made
  • Offer training videos and unique insight
  • Put together contests or giveaways
  • Use relevant tags to make your content easier to find

Final thoughts

When used right, ephemeral content has the unique ability to attract more viewers, have them engage with your content more, and convert them more easily than other social media marketing tactics. However, don’t forget that you need to align your content production with a clear goal and focus on the needs of your target audience, just like you would with any other digital marketing tactic.

With Crowdfire, you can find curated content, schedule your posts, engage with your audience, deep-dive into analytics and create custom reports. Try it for free.

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