Ephemeral Content And Its Rising Use In Marketing

Known as "disappearing" content, this type of short-term messaging is gaining traction

Short-term content, vanishing content, self-destructing content — these are all clubbed under the nomenclature — ephemeral content. It was born sometime in 2011 when the Snapchat app with its “disappearing” videos was launched. With that, Snapchat shook up the world of social media and messaging.

Then, in 2013-14, there launched some smartphone apps that allowed users to post content that went poof on expiry of a deadline. From thereon, nothing much happened except that Snapchat and its clones were the delight of teenagers looking for more private ways of sending and receiving messages (largely the wink, wink types)….it was also a way to connect better emotionally, one-on-one.

Somewhere around 2018, with better tech coming into the market, marketers woke up to the potential of such ephemeral content. Two things got them going — the fact that such private messaging could be used by brands to establish an even more emotional connect with audiences, and the use of rich media like videos, which tech had now made possible.

Any true-blue digital marketer knows that creating a high engagement level with potential buyers is top of the list. What such disappearing messaging apps offer is:

(a) a way to tap into a new customer group

(b) a way to engage current consumers on a personal level

Ephemeral content works on the twin-concepts of FOMO, which is the fear of missing out, and play on emotions. What’s at work here is not just the brand-customer interaction that takes place but HOW.

That’s also where increased user-interaction activity by way of user-generated content comes in. Brands using this form of “temporary” content marketing have started encouraging the inflow of content from their intended audiences, thus building in a high level of interactivity not to be found in any other marketing channel like email, and so on.

In the last two years, seeing the success of Snapchat as a marketing tool perhaps, other social networks like Facebook (Facebook live, Facebook Messenger), WhatsApp, Instagram and Twitter are now getting into the ephemeral content space. The other driver is online privacy.

Without naming any brand, here are some ways in which companies are using the ephemeral content marketing channel to their advantage.

(a) By using disappearing content, a certain movie studio earned over 45 million impressions and earned millions in incremental ticket sales.

(b) Another used a Q&A session to get people to log in, thus tapping into thousands of “unconnected” leads

Strategy for Ephemeral Content

At the beginning let me say this — ephemeral content is not for all. So before you jump on to the self-destructing messaging platform, you need to get some things clear:

a) It is a very personal way of marketing

b) It requires a lot of images, videos, infographics by way of content

c) Content is “unarchived” (it disappears though not from the servers)

d) It, of course, comes with an expiry date/time

e) Is largely meant for social media

f) Is largely used by 16-25 years of age

g) Tries to get real-time response from target audience

Your content strategy must keep in mind all the above.

Based on these factors, your content must carry a positive message, its tone must be light, even flippant occasionally, it must by and large tell a story very quickly, and it can do either of these things:

1) Put up special offers

2) Ask for suggestions

3) Give advice

4) Carry unique geotags

5) Have a CTA like signups, etc

There is, of course, a flip side to ephemeral like it being limited only to social media, its short shelf life, and so on. That’s why my earlier note of caution — it’s not for everybody.

Image by Clker-Free-Vector-Images from Pixabay