Ephemeral content is any video content, such as video, images, or gifs, that lasts online for 24 hours before disappearing.
Unlike evergreen content (which lasts forever or until the user wishes to take it down and doesn’t depend on seasonality), ephemeral content cannot be found again on social media platforms.
That is, of course, unless users wish to keep their short-span content in folders like the Instagram feature “highlights.”
Snapchat was the first to come up with the idea. Simply put, ephemeral content refers to any web content with a short lifespan. The content simply vanishes after the expiration date (which is sometimes as little as 24 hours).
Ephemeral content can be found on many platforms such as Snapchat, Facebook, WhatsApp, and Instagram, and users generally post “stories” to their followers that last 24 hours.
Once the 24 hours are up, the content simply disappears. However, as mentioned above, with platforms like Instagram, you can save your ephemeral content or “stories” to a highlight on your profile.
That way, when people are on your profile, they can view your saved stories and click through at their leisure. Social media stories that aren’t saved to highlights in time will disappear completely.
Why does ephemeral content work? It’s natural to have a fear of missing out (also known as FOMO).
Much like limited sales in stores, they instill a sense of excitement in people, encouraging them to engage in the action while it is still going on.
The same goes for ephemeral content; people want to click on the content while it’s still there in fear of missing out on some great content.
For example, not being able to chat with friends about the story Justin Bieber posted would be devastating for fans that like to talk amongst their friends, and that’s why it’s so effective.
The great thing about ephemeral content for businesses is that using it almost forces their followers to view the story, primarily if regularly used to provide promotional codes and limited discounts.
FOMO is very much like the term YOLO (you only live once) because it all comes back to the same concept of making sure you do it now.
Another bonus of ephemeral content is that because it is only temporary and disappears after 24 hours, those who use it don’t have to worry about a particularly embarrassing piece of content being on the internet forever. That is, of course, unless someone decided to save your story or screen record.
However, generally, these pieces of content become long forgotten once the period of time is up.
Want to know more?
Let’s take a look at how you can utilize ephemeral content on your social media platforms, improve visual communication with your subscribers and get some insights that will help you improve this type of content in the future.
1. Great Ephemeral Content Is Interactive
Compared to other types of advertisement, ephemeral content enables users to connect with brands on a more personal level.
The following are some of the most successful engagement-boosting ephemeral advertising strategies:
- Using branded filters, geo-filters, and other methods to encourage user-generated content. Well-known influencers and celebrities will often use a filter that takes their fancy when creating their stories, and users following them will do that too.
- You may ask viewers for their thoughts or invite them to submit questions by using surveys and Q&As. The user is more than encouraged to submit their answers or questions, especially if the request comes from an influencer or celebrity. Again, the FOMO idea comes into play, and users will happily submit questions and answers to their favorite celebrities in the hope of acknowledgment.
- You can engage with your viewers in real-time by using live-streaming videos. Much like surveys and Q&As, the fear of missing out on the chance to see a favorite celebrity talking live draws people in. Instagram also notifies users when people they’re following go live even if they aren’t using the app, meaning more people are drawn towards the ephemeral content.
- To get more exposure, you can tag other users and locations. Some influencers and celebrities choose to host an “Instagram live” together to generate even more views, not to mention the subsequent followers each account will receive during and after.
Ephemeral content is also great for recording the interaction of your users on your stories. You can view how many people have seen the story, as well as who interacted with it.
For example, asking whether people prefer gin or tequila on a story would allow you to see which users voted for gin and vice versa. You will also see analytics on other things such as polls, questions, and how many people visited your profile because of that content.
Another fantastic way of utilizing ephemeral content is by using a particular holiday or time of day to bring people in to watch your content. You can send reminders to your subscribers about your content once it goes live, just figure out the best time to send those emails.
Users can enjoy the luxury of watching their favorite creators on special holidays like Christmas, Halloween, and even New Year.
Instagram, Snapchat, and Facebook hold features that allow you to customize your content to fit the holiday, such as gifs, emojis, timestamps, and even music.
Note that if you’re using ephemeral content for a branded campaign, then that’s against Instagram’s rules and regulations.
2. Promote Users To Your Audience
Ephemeral content works well because it’s real and raw, and people prefer to see that kind of content in this day and age.
Snapchat was once the most popular social media platform because of this, and when Facebook and Instagram soon followed suit, Instagram experienced a large influx of users.
Users loved ephemeral content because it can enhance brand loyalty by demonstrating authenticity and exposing the real, genuine human faces and minds behind the products.
Ephemeral marketing campaigns allow the consumer to act on behalf of a brand, whether it be by editing and modifying photos or an opportunity to produce a brand-related image or story.
As mentioned briefly earlier, the chance of acknowledgment from their favorite creators is enough to encourage users to participate in actions like this.
Ephemeral content can also be used to promote competitions and giveaways by requiring the user to interact somehow. It could be:
- Voting on a poll
- Sharing the giveaway with their users
- Tagging the account on their stories
It’s a quick and easy way to vastly grow your exposure that doesn’t cost followers any time at all.
3. Connect Content And Channels
Ensure you post content similar to other content on that particular site, no matter which social media platform you use.
Ephemeral content only works if it’s developed for your desired platform. It must also be consistent with your own brand name, logo, and color scheme – basically be a part of your overall brand marketing strategy.
If you want your ephemeral content to be credible, it must match your overall brand name. It goes without saying that your content should be fresh, snappy, amusing, and easy to share.
A word of advice: visual content is 40 times more likely to be shared than written material. People won’t watch your video unless it guarantees something special, given the market’s ever-shrinking attention span of users.
You can use previous ephemeral content to re-engage users by creating a series of content for users to look forward to.
For example, if you’re in the smart home technology industry, creating a “live” series for your followers to see how they can easily install your products is an excellent way of keeping people engaged.
If you’ve noticed regular viewers, reward them with something for their loyalty. This could be anything from a shoutout to money off their next order with you. Doing this encourages others to continue watching and again instills that feeling of FOMO.
4. Create Genuine Insider Views
One of the best things about ephemeral content is that because it’s so raw and honest, you can afford to make minor errors, and the odd “ummm” in a video can be easily forgiven. Take advantage of this!
If you’ve got something exciting happening behind the scenes, let your followers see and become a part of it all!
Whether it’s a new product landing on your shelves or welcoming a new member of staff to the team, getting your followers involved will help build up brand loyalty and make them feel like they’re a part of the team too.
Creating that urgency, that longing to be there with you by showing your followers around your home or office, adds to the FOMO that ephemeral content utilizes so brilliantly.
With ephemeral content, you’ve got the opportunity to show people what’s going on in your world in real-time.
Much like reality television shows, seeing what others are doing in real-time is oh-so-satisfying, and you should utilize that for your social media channels.
Another great thing about ephemeral content is that your call to action doesn’t have to change.
For example, suppose you’re selling merchandise, and you’ve just released a new hoody on your store. In that case, you can create ephemeral content showing images or videos of you and others sporting your new merchandise.
It again creates that sense of urgency to be part of the crowd and, ultimately, be the first to purchase the next big thing on the market.
5. Plan, Don’t Script
One thing to remember with ephemeral content is that you don’t necessarily need a script. A small amount of planning will help you create high-quality yet real content that your followers will love.
Try not to worry too much about your video being perfect!
First, you may feel like you need to film different takes for your stories, but you don’t need to do this! Focus more on the actual content rather than where you are or what you look and sound like. Here are some tips to help you plan your content:
- Create an outline for your ephemeral content rather than a “script.” Focusing too much on what you have to say will make you seem robotic and, therefore, boring.
- Keep your videos reasonably short. You have mere moments to capture your followers’ attention, and long videos will likely make them exit your content. How short? Check out this handy guide on Instagram Video length to get started.
- Don’t be afraid to show personality! For example, if someone comments during your Instagram live, feel free to reply to their message. It’s okay to go a little off-topic as long as the central message remains.
- Try and shoot your content in one take. It shows the raw and natural side of things and therefore becomes more captivating for the audience.
Ephemeral content is among the most effective ways of promoting your brand and capturing your audiences’ attention.
It can be a compelling way to encourage interaction with your followers, easily portray a call to action with them, and can effectively be used to promote other users to your audience.
Whether you’re growing a personal brand or simply love to interact with your followers on social media, you can use these tried and tested methods to perfect your content.
Remember that you don’t have to focus too much on your content being “perfect.” What you do need to concentrate on is what your content contains.
Solve a problem for your audience, give them something for nothing, and show them the content they want to see from you. Are you selling T-shirts? Show them T-shirts!
If people follow you for funny content, then give them exactly that! However, delivering long-term value and confidence with valuable, high-quality content that will stand the test of time is the cornerstone of a genuine, long-term relationship that people want to form with brands.
Ephemeral content can only achieve its maximum potential when it is paired with other forms of content. Remember, confidence and that “natural” feel is critical!