What Is Ephemeral Content?

How we share and consume content has undergone a transformative shift in recent years. Many things have encouraged this shift—one of the main catalysts being ephemeral content.

If you’re unfamiliar with the phrase, don’t worry about it - if you’ve spent time on Snapchat, Instagram or TikTok over the last couple of years, you’ll be more familiar with it than you think.

In this blog, we will take a magnifying glass to ephemeral content to see what the fuss is about. 

What is it? How does it work and why is it so powerful? Should you be utilising it within your content strategy?

By the time we’ve wrapped up here, you’ll have the answers to all of those questions. But before we get ahead of ourselves, let’s start with the basics.

What Is Ephemeral Content?

Ephemeral is defined by the Oxford dictionary as ‘lasting for a very short time’.

So, ephemeral content is content that doesn’t last long at all. The average time for this kind of content to last is 24 hours.

It’s different from your regular tweet, Instagram or blog post as they stay for as long as the user decides to keep it on their profile (or, forever if it’s saved or screenshot by someone else). 

Ephemeral content refers to stories, posts or lives that can't be saved and logged after they have ended. 

Snapchat is the most famed pioneer when it comes to ephemeral content. Before the launch of Snapchat in 2011, evergreen content was all the eyes could see. In the following years, we’ve seen an influx of platforms bringing ephemeral content into their strategy.

Instagram, WhatsApp, TikTok, Facebook, BeReal, and even Tinder jumped on the ephemeral content train.

With all of the biggest platforms in social media tweaking their strategy to include this kind of content, it would indicate that ephemeral content provides some tangible benefits. 

Why Is Ephemeral Content So Powerful?

Ephemeral content plays very cleverly on a fear that many of us will be familiar with, especially in the digital landscape we find ourselves - FOMO.

At its core, a fear of missing out and wanting to keep up with our favourite celebrities and brands, keeps us beholden to whatever they post. When a post is guaranteed to be fleeting, we’re more likely to engage immediately and consistently. 

It’s a great way to evoke action from your consumers. Whether you’re asking for sign-ups, sharing some news or posting a new discount code, the short-lived nature creates urgency and as is a facet of being human, we answer the call every time.  

What Is Ephemeral Content?

Another facet of the human experience is that we are community beings. We like to be in community with others and more often than not, this is where we thrive the most. This type of content allows us to feel as though we are engaged within a community, even if we can’t physically see the other members. 

We want to be in the know. We want to be part of a group or a community. Ephemeral content allows us to do just that.

Should You Utilise Ephemeral Content Within Your Strategy?

You could wonder if focusing on ephemeral content is worth your while. 

While I wouldn’t say it is imperative, I would encourage you to do so if higher engagement and a greater following on your social media platforms are one of your goals.

The bottom line is, you know what would work best for you and your business. Before you decide, let me give you five reasons why you should consider making space for it within your content strategy.

Higher Engagement

Across the board, brands or companies that use this kind of content have reported higher engagement rates. Many forms of ephemeral content have engagement-boosting tactics built into them, ready and waiting for you to use. 

From running polls or Q&As to encouraging users to use a specific geo-tag, ephemeral content engages your audience well and consistently. While this type of content might not be around forever, its impact lasts a lot longer in the minds of your consumers than you would think.

What Is Ephemeral Content?

Immediate Response

Often, if we’re launching a new campaign or product, we have to wait for the results to roll in. Which isn’t a problem - in many cases I would agree that slow and steady wins the race. 

However, with the sense of urgency that this type of content creates, you can get your consumers' response or opinion to something en masse, quicker than ever before. 

Brands will post discount codes, subscriptions or sneak peeks as a way to anticipate the buzz or interest surrounding what it is that they’re advertising. 

Similarly, customer feedback can also reach you at the speed of light. Will something work for your business? Post it to a story and let your clients decide for themselves!

Wider Reach

Ephemeral content can reach farther than your usual posts for a few reasons.

  • Location - Stories exist in their respective place on each app. So, you’re able to beat the algorithm and increase your reach.
  • Live Video - Your followers get notified every time you go live, even if they’re not subscribed to your notifications. This attracts people who are interested in your content even if they weren’t using the app at that particular moment.
  • Sharing Is Caring - This kind of content is usually very easily shared. It only takes one click of the finger to share a story or live video to rid your friends and loved ones of the FOMO we all fear so much.


A Sense Of Community

The wants and needs of our consumers are constantly changing. One of the newer changes is that more than ever before, our consumers want to feel like they are part of a community and that their beliefs align with the brands they support.

Ephemeral content is brilliant for tending to this need as this kind of content feels more personable and allows businesses to connect with their audience more candidly. Customers can see what you’re up to, what you engage with and what you believe in as quickly as they can pick up a morning paper.

If you want to market your products or business more authentically, ephemeral content has your back!

Trust

84% of millennials have reported that they don’t trust traditional advertising methods. No matter how well polished, preened and full of promise, old tactics are not sticking like they used to.

Consumers are looking for rawness and authenticity. This type of content provides them with precisely what they’re looking for. It feels more spontaneous, informal and relatable. Almost like you’re clicking on a friend's story to see what they’re up to.

Ephemeral content provides you with the opportunity to truly build trust and loyalty with your consumers.

Here for an ephemeral time, not a long time!

There you have it - you’re now up to speed on what ephemeral content is, why it works so well within our current digital landscape and some reasoning to help you decide whether you would like to include this content within your strategy.

I’m of the belief that we should go with the tide, not against it. And, if we look to our peers, many are utilising the power of ephemeral content. 

Whether your aim is higher engagement, wider reach, building a community or garnering immediate responses - there is a hoard of benefits that you can find by employing this into your existing strategy.

Whichever way it goes, I know that you’ll make the right choice for you.

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