Before the rise of social media platforms, marketers relied on evergreen content. Evergreen content is content that's always interesting, valuable or relevant to readers.
In contrast, ephemeral content is content that's designed to last for only 24 hours. Snapchat, Instagram Stories and Facebook Live are all examples of places to post ephemeral content.
The psychological concept of FOMO (the fear of missing out) makes ephemeral content great at increasing customer engagement.
Here, we'll discuss how you can take advantage of FOMO to build your brand with ephemeral content.
Why should brands create ephemeral content?
When Snapchat came to smartphones, many people didn't get it. What was the point in making a video or a photo that would disappear?
At that time, content creators focused on creating evergreen content to capture the interest of readers and stand the test of time.
Although evergreen content lasts, ephemeral content offers a sense of exclusivity. If you miss it, you miss it for good.
By making content ephemeral, you can keep your audience on its toes. They don't want to miss out, so they pay attention. And on the internet, attention is king.
Large brands are already taking advantage of FOMO with their content. In 2016, an estimated 21% of BuzzFeed's total traffic came from Snapchat views. As of 2018, Instagram Stories has an estimated 400 million users.
If you don't get in on this trend soon, you'll be the one who ends up with a bad case of FOMO.
How to use ephemeral content effectively
Ephemeral content offers unique ways to engage an audience. There are several different strategies you can use, depending on your preferred platform. Here are a few of them.
Reach out to your users and make them feel special
First, you have to reach out to your users. There are two good ways to do this: remarketing and influencer marketing.
If you've already established contact with your users, you can try remarketing. Use remarketing to announce new products, sales or discounts on products or services they've bought before to keep your audience engaged.
If you haven't reached your audience yet, you can tap influencers to attend expos or invite-only events. Provide opportunities for them to take great pictures and try out your product. These influencers can then share their experiences with your brand via their social media accounts.
Keep in mind that not all fans have the clout or money to go to these events. Instead, you can give your regular users a "sneak peek" that not only makes them feel special, but also makes your brand feel real and authentic.
Be authentic and humanize your brand
Speaking of authenticity, one of the things that makes ephemeral content attractive is that it feels more real. However, to do this, you first have to know who you are and what you want to do as a brand.
According to Shopify, putting to paper the intangible facets of your brand (e.g. principles, philosophies, etc.) "should provide an ample introduction of why you're in business, why you're different, what you have going for you, and why you're a good bet if you're asking for an investment." These will give you a guide for how to appear more authentic in your social media posts.
But, it's not enough to know who you are and why. You also have to run your brand in line with your identity. When you have an identity and stick to it, it's reflected in your content. Users like seeing employees at work behind the scenes—or real people using products in their own way. Take advantage of this and show users the unpolished side of your brand.
Keep your audience on its toes with live video
Live video is one way to show your audience that you're authentic. But aside from that, it hooks them immediately.
When you use live video, your users are the seeing it at the same time as everyone else. According to Facebook, users spend up to three times more of their time watching live videos than non-live videos.
Here are a few ways to use live video:
Show what goes on behind-the-scenes. You can show snippets of processes in your business, or company culture by showing staff in their element.
Training videos. These videos are great for technical or creative brands. You don't have to do full training sessions. Instead, you can treat users to related tips & tricks, Q&As or how-to guides.
Contests or giveaways. These would not only reward loyal customers, but they can bring in new customers, too.
Share live events. Not everyone has the chance to attend exclusive events. Live video lets you share memorable event moments with all your users.
Facebook Live is a popular platform for live video streaming. If you plan on using Facebook for your live videos, make sure you know when the best times are to go live so you can get the most engagement.
Get your users involved with a call-to-action
In the end, you want your users to do something. That's why you include a call-to-action.
With ephemeral content, the call-to-action is usually a link to a landing page. Because ephemeral content doesn't last forever, you need to make your CTA clear and concise.
Make sure you tell your audience exactly what you want them to do. "Click this link!" and "Swipe up!" are good examples of clear calls-to-action.
Best platforms for ephemeral content
Now that you have an idea of how to maximize ephemeral content, it's time to decide which platform to use. Each platform has its own features and user base. Here's a short breakdown of three popular platforms.
Snapchat is popular with younger users, so you should consider Snapchat if they're your target market. Snapchat uses Snapcodes, which are QR codes users can scan to follow brand profiles. Snapchat also has geo-filters, which can be used for time- and location-sensitive events or promotions.
Facebook has a huge user base that's varied in demographics. If you plan on integrating ephemeral content with a brand page, Facebook is the way to go. Facebook Stories gives users a way to enjoy ephemeral content without clogging up their newsfeed. It also allows you to supplement your ephemeral content with posts on your main page.
Instagram has a huge user base. In 2017, Instagram Stories had more than 200 million daily active users, a number that's doubled since then. If your brand is visual in its marketing style, Instagram is worth a look. You'll be able to supplement your photo feed with Stories. Instagram also allows in-story links, making calls-to-action easier for users to follow.
Ephemeral content is a trend that isn't going away soon, even though these posts only last for 24 hours.
If you're looking for a new way to engage your users and keep them interested, ephemeral content is something you should think about. Are you already using ephemeral content? How is it working for your brand? Show us your favorite examples on Twitter by mentioning @lucidpress.