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The Future of Ephemeral Content on Social Media

This post comes courtesy of Hugh Beaulac, President of MC2 Bid4Papers.

Ephemeral content is taking the digital world by storm. Major social media networks like Instagram, Facebook and WhatsApp have copied Snapchat’s concept of sharing disappearing content. Now users can distribute short-lived content via Stories and Livestream that vanishes within 24 hours.

Since ephemeral content has the FOMO (fear of missing out) effect, it provokes users to take an action faster. Thus, more and more people consume and create short-lived content on social media.

The Growth of Ephemeral Content

There are even more reasons why people are in love with disappearing content:

  • it is perfect for mobile
  • it feels authentic
  • it avoids clogging up the main feed with content

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg admitted the popularity of ephemeral content in 2018:

“Another important shift that we’re seeing across the industry is the growth of Stories. We expect Stories are on track to overtake posts in feeds as the most common way that people share across all social apps. That’s because Stories is a better format for sharing multiple quick video clips throughout your day. The growth of Stories will have an impact on how we build products and think about our business, including WhatsApp and Instagram, which are the #1 and #2 most-used Stories products in the world.”

For marketers, this means more opportunities to reach their target audiences, build brand loyalty and interact with potential customers in an engaging and creative way. All in all, it’s about marketing potential.

Still, not convinced? Let’s zero in on the numbers:

The Future of Ephemeral Content

Ephemeral content is the future of social media. Here’s what marketers can expect:

1. Rapid Growth of Ephemeral Content Users

With the number of mobile users growing substantially over the past few years, ephemeral content is becoming even more popular. What’s more, people are less picky about what they post via Stories, so they often publish behind-the-scenes content, making it more authentic for viewers.

Note: Since people hold smartphones upright 94% of the time when scrolling newsfeeds, it’s easier for them to consume short-lived content that comes in a vertical position.

This type of content is insanely popular on social media platforms. Stories have even helped increase the amount of time people spend on Instagram from 15 to more than 32 minutes a day.

users by platform

Statistics prove that short-lived content keeps people hooked, which means an opportunity to deliver your brand message without being too salesy and delivering value for your customer. Plus, social media platforms are constantly investing in new and updated features to increase user engagement and keep people coming back for more.

2. New Opportunities to Interact with Your Audience

Ephemeral content has proven so popular that social media platforms are rolling out more and more features that help to interact, engage and create a deeper connection with their users in the moment.

For anyone doing business on social media platforms, this means more opportunities to interact with followers and nurture relationships with your audience.

For example, beauty brand Sephora uses short-lived content to understand their followers’ needs better, and therefore increase customer satisfaction. The company encouraged followers to ask questions about the products. Then, Sephora used the responses to organize a Q&A live session. What’s more, the company invited followers to decide what type of IGTV content to create.

stories screenshot

When you know what your followers want, it’s easier to satisfy their needs. Sephora proves that companies can grow their business with Instagram Stories if they make the most of the features.

Here’s the list of Instagram Stories features you can use to engage your audience:

  • Geotag stickers: add a geotag sticker or geotag hashtag to target a local audience when promoting a certain area.
  • Open-ended questions: collect customer feedback without limits.
  • Polls: understand what product works best for your users.
  • Emojis rates: let your followers rate your product or service the way they want to.
  • Countdown sticker: announce a sale or product launch to attract the audience’s attention.

Social media platforms release different features for ephemeral content, and these are just a few examples how businesses can interact with their audiences.

3. The Rise of Vertical Video Content

Human beings are visually-oriented, so we perceive visual content better than text. However, modern social media users crave not just images, but also video content. According to Renderforest survey, the consumption of video content is evolving: 1200% more shares are generated by social videos than text and images, 64% of users are more likely to buy a product online after watching a video, and video ads make up 35% of total online spending.

At the same time, the majority of social media users access platforms via mobile devices, which also means vertical video content is on the rise. When it comes to creating ephemeral content, you can learn from big companies like GoPro to make short videos that engage your followers.

go pro stories screenshot

While video production requires time, effort, and money, posting a vertical video via Stories or going live is a cost-effective way to satisfy customers’ needs without spending much. Just take your phone and start recording things that can tell more about your company, values, and products. Users will appreciate the authentic look and feel.

4. More Sales with Augmented Reality

Ephemeral content is not just about engaging your audience; it is also about turning followers into customers. Last year, Instagram brought in-app shopping to Stories that allowed users to shop the items inside a Story photo or video.

Modern customers are ready for the social shopping experience. For now, online shopping will be even easier thanks to Facebook AR advertising. This new ad format allows consumers to virtually try on things with the help of their camera and an augmented reality tool. Michael Kors was the first retailer to test AR ads, allowing potential buyers to virtually try on a pair of sunglasses.

michael kors AR stories ads

With Facebook AR ads, online shoppers can try out the products before buying them to see whether they fit or not, and it’s a proven way to overcome another obstacle online shoppers may face. All in all, AR ads give companies a chance to sell more via social channels.

5. Better Audience Reach with Stories Ads

Most companies run advertising campaigns on social media to cut through the noise and reach their target audiences, and many businesses see better results with Stories ads than feed ads.

Both Facebook and Instagram Stories ads appear between users’ stories in the Stories feed, so you deliver your brand message to an already engaged audience. What’s more is it’s difficult to distinguish between the paid and organic content within the format.

pelacase stories ad

No matter what ad type you choose – whether an image, video or carousel – it appears in the Stories feed which fits seamlessly into your customers’ browsing experience.

In a Word

Ephemeral content is the future of social media. This gives marketers many opportunities to reach their target audiences and achieve their business goals. Since the number of users interested in short-lived content is growing, it’s high time to jump on the bandwagon.

Don’t be afraid of investing in content that disappears fast – it also drives results fast.


Images Credits

Featured Image: Unsplash.com/Social Cut
Images 1-3: Screenshots taken by the author, February 2019.
Image 4: via The Verge
Image 5: via SmartInsights


Hugh Beaulac

Hugh Beaulac

With over 6 years experience in digital marketing, Hugh Beaulac is a big fan of social media marketing who helps small businesses grow online. He also runs MC2 Bid4Papers and writes for top-notch websites to share his tips. You can see his articles at CrazyEgg, SmartInsights, Foundr, LiveChatInc, and more.

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