Instagram Stories, Snapchat and Ephemeral Definition: Is it the right social media marketing tool for my organization?

30 Jul

Instagram Stories, Snapchat and Ephemeral Definition:
Is it the right social media marketing tool for my organization?

One of the fastest areas of growth in the social media marketing world is ‘stories’.  Several platforms have expanded their traditional feed offerings to include a section for short-lived posts that capture the audience’s attention in a new format.  Why does this strategy seem to work, and is it right for every organization?  Let’s look at it.  And don’t worry, this blog is ‘evergreen content’; take your time.

Ephemeral Definition

Have you come across the term ephemeral content?  Maybe not, but I bet you do know about Snapchat and Instagram stories.  Ephemeral content is social media content that lasts for a short time, often only 24 hours, unlike the traditional content posted on your page that will remain until you remove it.  Currently, there are four platforms that carry ephemeral content: Instagram, Snapchat, Facebook and What’s Ap.  Interestingly, while Snapchat was based on the concept of ephemeral content when it was created, Instagram stories, What’s Ap status and Facebook stories all now have more daily active users of the format than Snapchat.  Each ephemeral content format platform, however, has hundreds of millions of users and is growing.

How Does Ephemeral Content Work and What’s the Draw?

The nice feature of stories is that they do just that, tell a story.  For those that are not familiar, a story can be just one image, but more often it is a series of images or photos shown one after another that make up a small story.  For an individual, it might be several pictures of their day at the beach or a family function, not too different than what one would post as regular content on a page.  However, because the pictures are viewed one at a time, like a child’s picture book, and for only a few seconds per image, it becomes a more interesting story. 

Businesses take advantage of the knowledge that people are interested in what their favorite online personality or organization is doing each day, and stories give an authentic peek into those lives and events while they are happening.  Stories are more likely to be spontaneous, and personal, giving viewers a behind-the-scenes look at a topic that interests them.  For promoting a product, stories provide a great platform for hype.  

Brands use FOMO (fear of missing out) to draw viewers to their product or promotion.  Having an offer be time sensitive is a tried and true sales tactic, and stories are perfect for this.  Savvy businesses tease upcoming products, run special deals, promote future announcements and engage with product users all through stories. 

What Works Best for Ephemeral Content?

In general, providing authentic and current content makes the best online stories.  The good news is that with ephemeral content, it doesn’t need to be perfect or produced like evergreen content.  It should feel fun, fresh and casual.

Here are some tips and ideas for successful ephemeral content:

  • Use geotags and hashtags to connect with viewers interested in a certain area or content.  Geotags and hashtags allow people to find you and follow along with your posts.
  • Give behind-the-scenes looks at your life, work, staff, product, production, etc.  No matter how large or small your organization, people like to connect by learning more about how the magic really happens. 
  • Ask for user generated content.  Start a poll, ask or answer viewer questions, or invite them to share their pics or reviews.  The one-on-one connection is great for engagement and generating interest.
  • Share tutorials of your product or items that you use in your everyday life.  This could be done through a series of still photos or a short video.
  • Live video was made for ephemeral content.  A quick and spontaneous video that shows what you are doing in the moment is fun and perfectly suited to this format.
  • Tease.  Use a series a pictures or videos that lead up to a final reveal of a new product, upcoming event or announcement.  You could even use the same photo over and over again, revealing a little more of the photo each time.

Is Ephemeral Content Right for You or Your Business?

Yes!  It doesn’t matter if you are an individual posting for fun, or you are a social media manager posting for a small business or large corporation, every type of social media account can benefit from this newest way to post.  Your followers are already looking at Instagram stories and What’s Ap statuses, just meet them where they are.

So, take a look at your social media calendar and plan out some of these ideas to boost your engagement.  Or, grab your camera and start posting!  Ephemeral content is yet another new and helpful tool to connect with your target audience online.  Enjoy the casualness of its brief life and take advantage of its entertainment value.  Everyone loves a good story.


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