13 October 2018 By My Digital Agency

Ephemeral Content: The Rise of Real-Time Marketing

If you’ve been living under a rock these past few years, or simply haven’t been up to date with trending topics in web content, you may have not even heard of ephemeral content. This elusive concept was first brought into public consciousness by Snapchat, in the form of disappearing posts. In fact, ephemeral content was among the biggest social media trends this year. It is fleeting, fresh and has enormous appeal among users.

A novel idea?

Simply put, ephemeral content is any visual content – photo or video – that is available for a certain period of time. Social media giant Snapchat is considered the pioneer of ephemeral content. How it works is simple: users upload photos or videos that can be viewed which subsequently disappears. This content can be sent to individual users or groups or posted publically as ‘stories’. These stories can be anything ranging from jokes and observations to product demonstrations, and even live links. After 24 hours pass, the content simply disappears. As one of the trending concepts in recent times, it does have one downside; ephemeral content marketing is limited to social media. Following in its footsteps, Facebook introduced Facebook Live while Instagram tinkered and made improvements to Snapchat’s existing concept, and came up with Instagram stories.

Usually modern-day marketing exercises focus on creating everlasting content that generates as much engagement as possible over a period of time, whereas ephemeral content is, as its name suggests, short-lived. Though opportunities presented by Snapchat and Instagram haven’t been entirely harnessed, the good news is brands are now testing the waters and experimenting on how tap in to an increasing ephemeral audience.

But why invest in a campaign that lasts just 24 hours?

Here’s what the numbers say:

The Rise of Real Time Marketing

As you can see, we are very much living in social media-centric era where almost everything is documented online. Ephemeral content is effective and creates a sense of urgency. This Fear of Missing out (FOMO) makes people want to participate in the action before it vanishes. It is the temporary nature that drives people to seek it out for fear of missing out on it completely. Utilizing ephemeral content prompts your followers check your website/product regularly. Besides FOMO, users feel more at ease with regards to ephemeral content. Posts disappear within a day, meaning people need not fear creating a potentially mortifying and permanent digital footprint.

But as a marketer, you just can’t put up anything random. To connect with your target audience the content has to be authentic and exclusive. With the burgeoning popularity of video marketing, ephemeral content offers businesses an effective and inexpensive method to market their organization and keep followers coming back for more.

Building a strategy

Now that we’ve laid down facts, let’s understand how to build a compelling strategy:


Currently, Facebook Live, Instagram Stories and Snapchat Stories exist as platforms for ephemeral content.  For example, Facebook Live does not allow pre-recorded content but content can be viewed even after 24 hours. It is therefore wise to study each platform and decide which best suits your brand.

Target Influencers

Ephemeral content is limited to social media. It is likely that content posted on your website will go largely unnoticed, which makes all the more sense to publish it on social media. However, when discussing social media, viewership always comes up. Ephemeral content is largely effective if your product/service has a large following. In case you don’t, it’s best to reach out to influencers to give your brand a boost.

Maintaining Content Flow

Maintaining a steady flow of content is imperative when each post vanishes after 24 hours. You need to come up with a strategy which allows for quick and easy generation of content. However, mass production of content often leads to a loss of ‘purpose’, i.e, the message you want to deliver gets lost. When creating new content keep two things in mind: The goal of the campaign and whether the new piece adds value to that goal.

Ephemeral content allows brands to make mistakes in their marketing without enduring any severe repercussions. Even if you fail the first time, any potentially embarrassing evidence is out of the system after 24 hours. This allows you to learn from your mistakes and hit back harder with fresh ideas for engaging content to woo your audience.