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Ephemeral Content Marketing & Older Demographics | Jumbla

Feb 15, 2018

First there was Snapchat. Then Instagram entered the fray. Now, nearly every social platform is embracing ephemeral content - media that lasts only a short time before disappearing.

With Snapchat and Instagram attracting hundreds of millions of active users every day, it’s an industry trend that can’t be ignored.

But does an ephemeral approach need to be part of your marketing mix? Let’s take a look at the numbers...

That seems to be a resounding ‘yes’ if you’re targeting those under the age of 30.

But what about older demographics?


Understanding the popularity of Snapchat and Instagram

Most adults use social media as a tool for communication, whereas younger generations view sites like Facebook and Twitter as tools to express and build social status.

This means they’re often conservative when sharing content on those platforms, as they’re conscious of how friends or followers might respond.

Platforms like Snapchat and Instagram Stories enable young people to share content that won’t adversely affect their standing among peers because:

  • It disappears after 24 hours
  • It can be shared privately, not network-wide
  • It can't be publicly commented on

From a marketer’s perspective, this sounds like a nightmare. After all, the whole point of creating social content is to gain traction and encourage engagement among users.

Thankfully, there’s another aspect of ephemeral content that can provide brands the attention they crave from social audiences.

“Platforms like Snapchat and Instagram took their insane popularity among young people and applied the element of fear that users would miss out on something cool if they weren’t constantly tuning in to content,” Content Marketing Consultant Beau Ushay said.

“The idea is to create a sense of urgency – you can only view it for a limited time.

“We’ve all seen marketing campaigns urging us to take advantage of something before the opportunity slips away – ‘Buy Now’, ‘Limited Time’, ‘Last Chance’…the FOMO generation has just given it [ephemeral content] a snazzy new name.”

FOMO (Fear of Missing Out) is a great hook for getting younger audiences to consume and interact with content. In fact, Snapchat even has a daily posting tally to encourage and incentivise activity.

Older generations aren’t all that different.

For many years, they’ve also been targeted by marketers who instil feelings of urgency, albeit via the use of different tactics.


Tread carefully

Brand Strategist Samuel Pavin believes the ‘go-fast’ approach of ephemeral content doesn’t align with everybody’s values or thought processes.

“Older audiences aim to make use of extended reflection time – a good example being TV shopping channels,” he said.

“They’re creating a false sense of urgency by displaying numbers of purchases or limited time offers, but the content itself is actually ‘sticky’ in the sense it is being repeated again and again, never really disappearing.”

Ephemeral content is far from sticky… it’s - by nature - quite the opposite.

“Some tools have allowed marketers to direct audiences to their own property or to buy directly from the app (swipe to buy on Instagram Stories), which fixes the issue of lost prospects not remembering a brand name or website URL,” Samuel said.

“But the ephemeral dimension doesn’t play a massive role in the process. For a lot of brands, the main goal is to make sure the shelf life of content actually increases.”


Ephemeral ideals within a wider content marketing strategy

Samuel says Snapchat has opened a new world of authenticity by using what is, interestingly, a less refined format.

“Content creators can suddenly shoot short, raw videos that capture a moment or give behind-the-scenes insights,” Samuel said. “Ephemeral or not, quality content is about the story.

“[But] it should be positioned as a single tool in a more general campaign or content strategy, which also needs a wider narrative.”

For Beau, seizing the zeitgeist when developing ephemeral content is vital to succeeding with the approach.

“To embrace the ephemeral content idea, we recommend our clients write for today – what will grab the attention of your audience this month, this week, even this afternoon? It’s about being nimble and serving your customer’s content needs in the moment,” said Beau.

This doesn’t mean churning out content for every trending topic. A lot can be said for sitting tight on the sidelines and waiting for the right opportunities to present themselves.

“A good first step is to be a curator. You’re already likely to be reading a lot of publications, finding articles of interest, and watching videos that kick-start discussions,” Beau said.


The forecast for ephemeral content

“2018 is due to be the year of video (again), but not short, disappearing videos,” Samuel said. “Combined with the rise of quality, long-form content, the coming trends do not favour ephemeral content anymore.

“I still think behind-the-scenes footage of a company or event are interesting, but the long-term prospects of ephemeral content don’t look too solid at the moment.”

For now, marketers can still achieve positive, profitable results by combining ideas that have attracted young audiences to ephemeral content (chiefly, urgency and authenticity) with the consumption preferences of older generations.

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