In 2018, will you be taking advantage of all the marketing avenues available to you? Experts predict that ephemeral content marketing will reign supreme this year. To help you understand what this content is and how it can help you, I have done the research to help guide you as you create your ephemeral content marketing strategy, including an explanation of what it is and how it’s used successfully.

What Is Ephemeral Content?

As the name suggests, ephemeral content doesn’t last long. You catch it when it happens, or it’s gone. In the 20th century, prior to tape recorders and video cassette recorders, all content was ephemeral. Recording devices made it possible to capture radio and TV productions, and the technology of the 21st century made this an everyday part of life.

In the era of DVR, on-demand services, and of software and hardware additions to a computer, capturing content today is so easy people only notice it when it doesn’t work. Ephemeral content has gone from a category that once included everything, to what is now intentionally created to be temporary. Snapchat started this trend, but other social media platforms are jumping on the bandwagon because of Snapchat’s success.

Content on Snapchat, Instagram Stories, or Facebook Messenger Day will vanish after an allotted time or when users have opened them. Such temporary content carries with it a sense of exclusivity, engagement with the creator, and FOMO (fear of missing out). This level of engagement, pushed by regularly added content that entertains or informs, brings more people to the service.

Who’s Doing It Right?

One example of successful ephemeral content use is Main Course record label. During the first week of release, the label offers free copies through Soundcloud. Only people on Soundcloud engaging with the right channel can get these copies, which means the users will stay actively connected with the channel. Main Course engages their attention and capitalizes by directing them to other products they offer.

Paramount, Bad Robot, and Skydance used an ephemeral marketing approach for the movie Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation. They offered Snapchat followers missions to complete, like the team in the movie. Their fans came out in force, sending pictures or videos that helped market the film. When it was all done, 65 million impressions proved how successful they were in engaging fans to interact with and invest in the movie.

Full Blast Creative engages their customers by sharing production milestones and other important progress markers, via Snapchat, Instagram and Facebook Live. Samsung hopped on this train in 2014, using Snapchat to share user-generated content to promote an event they sponsored across the internet.

What to Do in 2018

An engaged fan helps create buzz without a brand investing more money in marketing. After all, buzz generated from someone other than the brand goes a lot further than continued efforts by the content maker. Here are some recommended strategies experts predict will prove most effective in 2018:

  1. Chatbots

In 2016, Harvard Business Review predicted that machines would generate about 20% of business content. With the rise of chatbots engaging audiences on websites, it’s safe to say that prediction did not miss the mark. Facebook reported in April, 2017, that 100,000 bots actively engage users on Facebook Messenger. Visit a legal blog, and odds are you will see a chat bot trying to engage you. Many banks now employ a bot on their mobile apps to direct you to self-help resources before finally ascertaining which department you may need for assistance.

These bots advance with the technology, but also by way of creators who train the bot with good content. A bot can only create the kind of story for your customer that you enable it to create. For example, a bot could glean enough information from a potential customer to offer them unique and specific aid to them, following that with an offer exclusive to their engagement with the bot. Once they leave, the deal is gone, thus creating ephemeral engagement. At CEM, we believe the potential warrants a close look to see if this means of engagement works for your business.

  1. Engage Influencers

Everyone knows about influencer marketing. Heard of a George Foreman Grill? The name has become synonymous with any grill that does the same thing. The manufacturer capitalized on the influencer’s fame to turn his product into a smash success. Despite the fact that this technique has been in use for decades, brands find it hard to work this approach correctly.

The key lies in authenticity. The success of Twitch, an online streaming service, lies in the 2.2 million content creators logging in every day to stream live content to fans who flock to their channel. What these fans love is an authentic presence they can engage with. They keep coming back and stay tuned in because the creator is making content for them to watch live, giving it a sense of uniqueness that watching a video on demand (VOD) lacks. Twitch capitalizes on this by engaging those fans with several ways to generate revenue for Twitch, their sponsors, and the content creator.

When a TV program you are watching suddenly interacts with you personally, you become more engaged. Now imagine that program has a link to a product. At first, you might ignore it. However, six days of viewing time later, when the creator comments on the link, you’re more likely to interact with it because you’ve invested a lot of yourself in this production, all because it interacted with you in a meaningful way. If that influencer took a moment to highlight the limited number available or offered some other kind of engagement with the viewer if they purchased the product before the stream ended, this interaction just became ephemeral: limited opportunity and immediate audience has an advantage on VOD viewers. These days the influencers are experts on products or people experienced in authentic engagement.

  1. Personalized Ephemeral Content

Millennials, as a rule, distrust traditional marketing. Old ways of creating marketing content just don’t work on them. Today everyone wants content that speaks to them as a person, not just a source of profit. It needs to be relevant, personalized content that feels customized to each person.

At CEM, we recommend you gauge who your audience is and create characters that speak to your audience (this includes age, education level, gender, income, etc.). When you make your content, imagine each of these people. Then determine what you need to say and how best to say it. This video discussed on Vidyard, an online video platform, is a good example of how this works. To employ this approach ephemerally, Vidyard could have offered a limited opportunity deal or created a sense of scarcity with their product, followed by a second, different video that increased the scarcity or altered the offer.

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