What is Ephemeral Content and What Can It Do for Your Business?

ephemeral content marketing small business

Ephemeral content marketing for small businesses taps into content with a fleeting lifespan. Unlike enduring blogs or web pages, ephemeral content typically lasts no more than 24 hours. For many, this approach challenges traditional marketing norms which prioritize long-lasting content.

Yet, as Snapchat, Instagram, and Facebook stories surge in popularity, it’s evident that marketing strategies must evolve to harness these dynamic trends effectively.

ephemeral content marketing small business

What Are Stories?

Social media stories represent a dynamic way to share content. They consist of sequences of photos or videos, each fleeting, lasting for just 24 hours on most platforms.

Users have the liberty to get imaginative, adding a dash of flair with various filters, stickers, and artistic overlays. Alternatively, the pure and raw spontaneity of a quick snapshot can be just as engaging.

Platforms like Snapchat, Instagram, and Facebook have popularized the Stories feature, each adding their unique twist. For instance, Facebook annually curates a nostalgic ‘year in review’ story for its users, encapsulating memorable moments.

For a myriad of businesses, especially the smaller ones, creating video content might seem like an insurmountable expense. With potential high costs linked to specialized equipment or professional videography, many shy away.

But the beauty of ephemeral content marketing, especially Stories, is its simplicity and accessibility. Essentially, if you possess a smartphone – and in this day and age, who doesn’t? – you’re equipped to craft Stories.

Authenticity is the core appeal of a Story; it doesn’t need the polish of a Hollywood production. It offers businesses an avenue to integrate video into their promotional arsenal without depleting their coffers.

ephemeral content marketing small business

Story Features Across Platforms

To provide a better understanding of the different platforms that utilize stories, here’s a comparison of Snapchat, Instagram, and Facebook’s story features.

PlatformDurationPrimary UseUnique Feature
Snapchat24 hoursShort videos, imagesFilters and geotags
Instagram24 hoursShort videos, images, liveFilters, live feature, and highlights
Facebook24 hoursVideo compilations, imagesYear in review stories

Who Uses It?

  • Taco Bell uses Snapchat to promote new products and customer experiences.
  • The NBA gives fans sneak peeks of the team behind the scenes to boost excitement and viewership for upcoming games.
  • McDonald’s unveiled a new product line on Snapchat.
  • Mashable engages consumers by running a weekly contest to get featured in one of its stories.
  • GrubHub offers exclusive promotions to its followers.

ephemeral content marketing small business

Why Does Ephemeral Content Marketing Work?

It’s somewhat counterintuitive. Content that’s fleeting, vanishing in a short span, shouldn’t logically be effective, right? Yet, the driving force behind this marketing trend is the innate human FOMO (Fear of Missing Out).

Traditional marketing has consistently leveraged this sentiment, bombarding consumers with advertisements of limited-time offers, flash sales, and exclusive deals.

Ephemeral content marketing merely amplifies this tactic. With its transient nature, it instills a palpable urgency, nudging consumers to act swiftly, effectively accelerating the decision-making process.

Do I Really Need This?

Marketing is about communicating effectively with the target audience. Ephemeral social media platforms aren’t a thing of the future. They are now. Millennials made ephemeral content relevant and generation Z is expanding on it.

Generation Z, a demographic marked by its technological affinity and unique socio-cultural attributes, is no longer in the shadows. As the leading edge of this generation finds its footing in the professional world, their significance is becoming more pronounced.

Recent data from Nielsen pinpoints that they constitute a notable 26% of the total U.S. population. The underlying question for businesses then becomes: Can one afford to overlook a quarter of the nation’s populace when charting out marketing strategies?

Staying attuned to the pulse of the times and adapting to emergent trends has always been the hallmark of successful businesses. Consider the digital revolution: There was a pivotal moment when businesses grappled with the decision to establish an online presence.

Fast forward to today, having a digital footprint is non-negotiable for any business aiming for growth and relevance.

Similarly, embracing modern marketing techniques, like Stories, isn’t just an option; it’s becoming a necessity. Those who chose to remain offline during the internet’s rise faced challenges in sustainability.

In the same vein, sidelining current tools like ephemeral content might prove detrimental in an era steered by Gen Z’s preferences and behaviors.

ephemeral content marketing small business

How to Leverage Ephemeral Content Marketing

  • Prove it. Everyone says they’re wonderful and they do charity work and they love babies and puppies. The new generation of consumers is done hearing everyone pat themselves on the back. They want companies to prove it. If your company volunteers time, show it off with a Facebook or Instagram Story.
  • Be authentic. Ephemeral marketing is an opportunity for the customer base to get to know the business on a more personal level. Have a real employee give a behind-the-scenes tour of the offices or manufacturing plant or sales team. Let your personality show through. Don’t be perfect, be real.
  • Engage your audience. This is the perfect opportunity to connect with your target market. For example, you can use the live option with Instagram Stories, and viewers can interact in real time. This can be as simple as an ask-me-anything session.
  • Sneak peek. Use it to create buzz for an upcoming event or sale. Launching a new product? Build up to the big announcement by creating stories that drop tantalizing behind-the-scenes hints.
  • Keep it fresh. People don’t usually visit a web page regularly to see what’s been updated, but they’ll check their stories regularly because they know they’re timely and new.
  • Be consistent. Create a plan and stick to it. If you only create ephemeral content occasionally, people will stop looking for it. If your content goes live each day at a certain time, they’ll look forward to it.
  • Stay relevant. Much like other marketing content, make sure you’re staying relevant, so your target market will want to engage with you.

ephemeral content marketing small business

Important Reminder

It’s crucial to underscore that ephemeral marketing doesn’t negate or substitute traditional or other current marketing strategies. It’s an addition, not a replacement. The marketing landscape is vast and multifaceted, and each approach serves its unique purpose.

While ephemeral content brings its own set of advantages, especially with younger demographics, the core tenets of your marketing strategy should remain intact.

Think of it as enhancing your marketing repertoire, integrating the fleeting allure of ephemeral content while maintaining and refining your existing methods.

In essence, it’s about striking a balance and using each tool in harmony to optimize outreach and engagement.

Photo via Shutterstock

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Amie Marse Amie Marse is the founder of a small content generation firm based in Lexington, KY. She’s been a passionate freelance writer turned business owner for over 7 years. Her philosophy is that the essentials of content marketing do not change from the small business to the Fortune 500 level, and that creativity trumps budget every time.