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To start off, let’s answer the obvious- What does ephemeral content even mean? It may sound odd at first, but ephemeral content really just refers to media content that is accessible for a very short period of time, usually only lasting 24 hours. 

Ephemeral content can take many forms but it is mostly associated with video content, gifs, memes, live streams etc. The examples that you are probably most familiar with are Instagram and Snapchat stories, with the occasional Facebook short video and story feature. Just as the feature name suggests, it has created a new concept of portraying content dubbed “ephemeral storytelling”.

A New Structure of Storytelling

Let’s delve into the phenomenon of ephemeral storytelling. The unique aspect of this marketing strategy is that it creates a more natural  and authentic narrative to what you’re showing your audience. This form of storytelling  gives what consumers want most from brands: authenticity. 

A 2018 Forbes article written by Thomas Harding (CEO of Mish Guru), stated that a 2017 global study found that 86% of consumers say authenticity is key when deciding which brands to like and support. However, only 57% of consumers think that less than half of brands create content that resonates as authentic (T.Harding, Forbes). This can be jarring for many businesses in our current era of marketing and advertising. Nowadays, people don’t gravitate towards the cookie-cutter perfection of edited and polished content. Audiences want to see the behind-the scenes of businesses, they want to see the character and personality behind  brand voices, and they want to see that unique voice come to life through content. This is why a lot of big name companies such as Wendy’sNetflix, and of course Snapchat have obtained their audience base and engagement.

What Makes It The Superior Marketing Strategy?

This user generated- content (UGC) feature allows increased daily engagement and enables trust to be formed between companies and their consumers in an informal but direct way. Additionally, because of the short exposure time, ephemeral content  creates a sense of urgency within the audience to participate in the viewing of the story or live stream.

To make more sense of it, using a quick example that’s a bit closer to home… If a casino wanted to increase participation on one of their platforms, let’s say Instagram, they could promote a giveaway via a livestream where winners would be announced at a specific time on that particular livestream. Of course it could be archived for followers/winners to watch later, but nevertheless it contains the key aspects of how ephemeral media is utilized: authentic behind-the-scenes interaction, a sense of urgency, and a personal aspect that connects the customers with the platform and company. You could also spice it up with the presence of an influencer, whether it be a social media takeover or just a guest appearance to announce the winners. There are so many ways to execute this feature, and the ones that get the most attention are the ones that are creative and consistent with it.

How Brands Should Utilize It 

Simply put, the purpose of this type of marketing is to maximize the volume of content and viewership while putting in minimal effort. Take advantage of what the platforms have to offer. If you post a picture of something that stirs opinion or conversation, consider placing a poll or topical GIF to let the audience interact and provide feedback. On Instagram Stories, there is even a “reaction” feature, and more likely than not, people will want to use those quick indirect symbols to show support rather than comment on a post. Engagement is engagement, there are many ways to record it, but even more ways to obtain it. So again, creativity and authenticity is key!

The continuous rise of ephemeral content will not falter anytime soon. Popular platforms such as InstagramSnapchat, and TikTok will see to it that the most watched content is personal, clever, and quick. What the marketing world can do is use that to its advantage. 

Our goal is engagement. If people don’t see what we’re creating, what is the point of creating it? The best way is to constantly be adapting to the changing trends of content consumption. As of right now audiences gravitate towards the more informal, familiar and human-like content from brands who have fresh and individual voices. With ephemeral digital marketing in your tool belt, those concepts can be actualized. 

As you continue to think about what lies ahead in the marketing industry, consider reaching out to us at Shank Marketing! We’re here to help you with any inquiries related to digital marketing and social media. Our team can help you implement the latest marketing strategies to increase your engagement with your audience.

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