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Ephemeral content: what it is and what it means for your business

Prince once said, “life is just a party, and parties weren’t meant to last.” [1999]

Was he talking about ephemeral content in digital marketing? Look, probably not, but we think it’s the perfect quote to sum up exactly what ephemeral marketing is.


Still confused?

Ephemeral describes something that lasts for a very short time. Like the caffeine rush from that first cup of coffee. Or toilet paper in a pandemic.

So, what IS ephemeral content?

Exactly what it says on the tin: content that lasts a really short amount of time. It could be a video, an image, a GIF or a social media post that typically lasts for around 24 hours. Evergreen content, on the other hand, is content that lasts forever [or until the user takes it down].

Snapchat was one of the first platforms to come up with ephemeral content and it can now be found on TikTok, Facebook, WhatsApp and Instagram [think of Insta stories]. Once 24 hours have passed, the content vanishes [unless you choose to highlight it on your profile, in which case it becomes evergreen].

Why do businesses use ephemeral content?

Ephemeral content works so well because of FOMO. Think about Black Friday sales or limited offers – they instil a sense of urgency and excitement because people can’t stand the thought of missing a deal. If you know an Instagram or Facebook story is going to disappear, you’re more likely to click on it because not seeing it would be the stuff of FOMO nightmares.

Ephemeral content is gaining popularity because it works. In 2019 it was reported that there were 500 million Instagram Stories users worldwide – up from 400 million in 2019. On top of that, a massive 50% of people have visited a website to make a purchase after seeing a product or service in an Instagram Story.

Are there different types of ephemeral content?

Aside from posting a static image or chunk of text, ephemeral content can be interactive. You can ask viewers to engage with the post in a Q&A or, using a survey, you can run polls. Hosting an Instagram Live is an increasingly popular form of ephemeral content that can generate even more views and conversions.

Why does your business need ephemeral content?

The benefits of using short-lived, ephemeral content include:

  • Being able to test out content ideas and engagement in a way that doesn’t leave a permanent content legacy for your brand: if it doesn’t work, you can figure out why and try something new without looking like a social media failure.
  • You can collect important customer analytics about your product or service, quickly and easily while also generating engagement. Try asking customers which they prefer – product A or product B?
  • It’s authentic. As realness becomes more and more important to customers, ephemeral content is a chance to show the real faces and minds behind your products, without all of the editing and polish.
  • Tap into trending content. If you take a look at TikTok, you’ll see that a lot of content there imitates what others are doing, with a unique spin or perspective. It’s not just the content of the season, month, or week – it’s of the minute.
  • Ephemeral content can integrate perfectly with user-generated content as part of a killer digital marketing strategy 🚀

 

Whether you’re looking to increase interactions with your customers, boost online sales or diversify your content with more authentic digital marketing, ephemeral content is a great place to start. It’s fun for brands to create, engaging for audiences and, when done strategically, can take your business to a whole new level.

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