Emily Stonham
11th January 2019 - 9 mins read
E

phemeral is defined by Cambridge dictionary as ‘lasting for a very short amount of time’.

There’s a few key types of ephemeral content that your business should consider experimenting with. The most popular form - and arguably the one that popularised temporary content - is Snapchat stories. You can also find stories on Instagram, YouTube and Facebook. There’s also a story function on WhatsApp, known as statuses.

Snapchat messages (snaps) also fall under this category, as do Instagram live videos. Snaps can only be viewed for a set amount of time, and Instagram live videos disappear from stories after 24 hours.

So, why should your business bother with making this style of content? After all, evergreen content is incredibly useful for marketing purposes so why stray away from that? In this blog, I’ve collected 7 key reasons why you should consider adding ephemeral content into your strategy.

 

Realism and authenticity

One of the main benefits of using ephemeral content is that it offers your customers a much more personal, authentic look at your brand. Using stories on Instagram, for example, makes it much easier to show viewers what your team gets up to throughout the day or to share a quick picture of the office dog having a nap.

I’ve written before about the importance of showing the human aspect of your business. Modern customers love seeing behind the scenes of their favourite brand, and they especially love having a relatable character/influencer to show them this. A good example of this is ASOS introducing their Insiders (a team of influencers working for the brand).

You could try using the story function on Instagram to show off a company event, or maybe demonstrate a new product that’s just arrived. It’s the perfect area to be slightly less formal than your main page, and your customers will thank you for it. Instagram stories have a number of handy functions for market research, too- it’s worth looking into polls, questions and sliders if you’re doing this.

 

Urgency

Another great reason to use temporary content is that it creates a real sense of urgency. Customers will often experience FOMO (fear of missing out) if there’s a timed offer shown on a story or live video, especially if it’s a brand they’re particularly fond of. This also applies to limited time offers shown on websites, like flash sales.

Fashion and beauty brands are particularly good with this. A brand that uses flash sales and promotions effectively is Disturbia, an alternative fashion company which creates unique, limited print run clothing. As a fan of this brand, I can confirm that it always seems to have a flash sale at the right time, which is not great news for my bank account.

Disturbia has found a great balance between having just enough flash offers to attract customers to come back to the website frequently, but not too many as to make them look fake. Over the last week, I've seen about 3 limited time offers on the website- enough to make a fan of the brand want to buy, but not too many to put them off.

Disturbia also has a good email marketing campaign, with quick sales and promos to encourage their readers to 'act fast' or 'not to miss out'. One of the key points that I believe has lead to them being successful here is the choices of urgent words used in their copy.

There’s a lot of fashion brands at the moment who have been caught out for having fake flash sales e.g. they’ll post ‘24 hours only!’ and replace the same offer 24 hours later with ‘48 hours only!’. It’s a popular tactic, especially with newer 'fast fashion' brands.

There’s even been a recent upset in the beauty community with a company called Kenza Cosmetics, who offered free brushes (spoiler- they weren’t free) for a limited amount of time. The limited amount of time seemed to go on for a very unlimited amount of time, and was immediately jumped on by Twitter and YouTube commenters. The scam ran a lot deeper than this, with famous YouTubers promoting products that mysteriously didn't turn up for months. Unfortunately, this type of scenario happens a lot online nowadays.

 

 

The main takeaway from this for brands looking to use temporary offers and flash sales is to find the right balance of offers and make sure they’re genuine. If your Facebook story says there’s 24 hours to use a discount code, make sure it’s actually 24 hours. You might get away with extending it a few times but customers will eventually pick up on the fact that your sales and offers go on for an inaccurate time. Eventually, this’ll lead to a distrust in your brand and a lack of engagement with offers. After all, if your 3 day offers normally go on for at least a week, why should they bother running to get their credit card?

 

Variation

A different reason to start using ephemeral content is that it can really liven up your social media strategy. If your brand has been consistently posting customer testimonials on Instagram at 3pm for the last 4 months, why not switch it up completely and do a livestream on your page unboxing your latest product? It can feel odd stepping outside of your usual comfort zone for content, but there’s only one way to find out whether it works or not.

Obviously, it’s important to do your research. If you want to use stories, make sure to check where the majority of your audience is. If your clients love using YouTube, there’s not much point just doing a brilliant story over on Facebook. If you want to go live, check out the times that your audience is online most frequently. The Instagram analytics section for business accounts is fantastic for this, as it can show you the relevant times for each day.

Social media is constantly changing and evolving, especially in regards to algorithms and content trends. If your page isn’t changing and growing with the platform, it’s likely that your engagement and lead generation will just die off over time. 

 

Speed and range

A great benefit of using temporary content is that it’s pretty quick to make. Due to the personal, informal vibe that most ephemeral pieces have, the amount of time that goes into creating it is significantly lower than creating evergreen content. Creating a behind the scenes Snap series would take a lot less time, effort and resources than creating a YouTube series with the same aim, for example. Live streaming is also relatively quick to set up, and is great to use for product launches or important events.

As lazy as it might sound, stories are a fantastic way to widen the range of your content marketing without distracting too much from your main pieces of content. In 2018, Instagram reported approximately 400 million daily story viewers. Snapchat followed behind with 191 million. Is this an audience that your business can afford to miss out on interacting with?

Instagram is arguably the best platform to utilise stories on. On this platform, it’s a mix of your existing audience and prospects who view stories. You can use hashtags on Instagram stories to get your story added to a tag story, which is displayed whenever people search for that term. It’s a great way to keep your brand in people’s mind too, as stories on Instagram are displayed right at the top of a user’s screen with the most recent and relevant being displayed first.

 

 

 

Staying active pays off with Instagram stories overall, and you’ll be able to monitor this in your analytics tab. Of course, other platforms have their benefits too and it’s worth exploring all of your key options. Determine where your audience is, and figure out which style of ephemeral content will catch their eye most effectively.

 

Reactivity

A final benefit of using ephemeral content is that it allows you to be much more reactive online. When an important event happens, it allows you to quickly jump on your page and post a genuine, casual response instead of spending a day crafting an intricate, corporate one.

Using stories or livestreams to document how your team feels about something that’s happening live is a brilliant way to connect with your audience further. This is especially true for events, as it relates what you’re posting to your audience’s perspective as a consumer.

Obviously, this style of quick, informal post isn’t appropriate for every scenario (probably best not to post a snapchat vlog series in response to a media crisis) but it can be a great way to increase the relevance of your content.

 

Overall 

Ephemeral content is definitely worth looking into if you want to liven up your content strategy and add some variation to what you’re providing for your customers. It allows you to position your company as relevant, authentic and modern, while still encouraging customers to buy from and interact with you.

Here are a few pieces of content that you could try out;

 

  • An Instagram livestream at an industry event.
  • A behind the scenes Snapchat series, showing an average day in your office.
  • Whatsapp status updates, hinting at your next product launch or collection.
  • A series of Facebook stories answering common questions from your audience.
  • A ‘takeover’ day on your Instagram story, where a member of staff controls the page for a day. Great for Q&As, office tours and promoting your latest services.
  • Snapchat stories of anything fun your office is getting up to, like a charity event or coffee morning. Informal content like this is a great way to add a personal feel to your content and help your audience relate to what you’re saying more.

 

Not sure where to start with creating temporary content for your social platforms? Thirty Seven offer comprehensive social media services, ranging from post writing and design, to account management. Feel free to get in touch with us today at hello@thirtyseven.agency to find out more about how we could help you with this.

 

Marketing

Content should be more than just marketing

Tom Idle 29th March 2018 — 8 mins read

I couldn’t bear to sit around on the sidelines any longer while some agencies just messed things up,” is how James puts it when I ask why he’s decided to venture into the world of content marketing.

In his six years as MD of Media First, James and his team have been asked more and more to help with different communications challenges – to present better, to deliver more impactful messages, to shoot and edit film, to hone communications. “We’ve been naturally moving towards helping with content marketing over the years. Now, with Thirty Seven we will get to help our amazing clients in a much more involved way.”

James is joined by Mark, an ex-Microsoft application development consultant, who has been running his own content and design agency for the last five years. Having worked together enhancing Media First’s own content marketing and Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) performance, the pair decided to team up.

“We’ve built a loyal following and I enjoy knowing that what we are producing is worthwhile and entertaining,” adds James. “I knew that, so long as we kept enjoying the creative process and stayed true to our journalist-led concepts of always putting the audience first, then there was a good chance that people would continue to enjoy reading, watching and listening to the content we were making.”

Enjoying the frisson of their new business launch, the pair were keen to tell me how and why they plan to do content marketing better.

 

It seems that your decision to establish Thirty Seven was based on a belief that most content marketing is poor. What’s wrong with it? 

Mark Mars (MM): So much content is produced without any strategy behind it and the quality just isn’t there.

When it comes to SEO, there has been such a focus on creating pages that rank for certain keywords. What you often end up with is lots and lots of content which might create a decent search ranking, but the quality is so poor that visitors don’t stick around for long. Google has caught up with that and now has more quality measures in place.

James White (JW): SEO and content are still considered by some agencies to be separate pieces of work. But they need to be considered together. You don’t produce good SEO with poorly developed content; it just doesn’t work.

Also, the content marketing industry seems to be in a race to produce the most amount of stuff. Quality is coming second to quantity.

 

But clearly your customers are increasingly aware of the need to improve content quality. How have you evolved to cope with changing client needs?

MM: A hell of a lot has changed in the last five years. Back in 2014, spend in content marketing was about £125 million a year. By 2020, it is set to jump to around £350 million, so brands really understand that this is the best way to reach their audiences.

There is also more appetite from consumers to digest content in many different forms, which opens up plenty of opportunity for publishers and content creators.

But that is not to say that it is being done particularly well. About 80% of B2B marketers claim to use content marketing. But 70% of them lack a consistent or integrated content strategy—and that’s a big problem. There has been too much focus on quantity over quality.

JW: ‘Quality’ is such a generic term because it’s all subjective. You need to develop the right content, for the right audience, in the right format, at the right time and in the right place.

Brands need to think more like publishers to really get the value out of content.

 

You use journalists to deliver content for your customers. The benefits of doing that might be obvious, but what is it you’re getting from journalists that you might not get from other content creators?

JW: Well, content should be more than just marketing. It’s not just good enough these days to tell good stories. You have to educate, entertain and excite audiences. You have to give people a reason to care.

Journalists inherently get this. They know how to sniff out unique stories that make people stop, sit up and listen. My wife is a journalist and she has a great ability to be brutally honest. I could spend all day coming up with, what I think is, a great idea. I’ll go home and tell her about it and she’ll challenge me by saying something like, “Who cares? Why will your audience give a damn?”

And that’s what’s great about journalists. They can easily put themselves in somebody else’s shoes and work out how people tick. That’s why I’ve loved working with our team of journalists at Media First these past six years.

 

Back in 2014, spend in content marketing was about £125 million a year. By 2020, it is set to jump to around £350 million...

 

All of your customers will have very different needs. How do you approach each piece of work to deliver the best results?

MM: Well, you need to get into the mind of the client to find out what they want to achieve, rather than just blindly creating content. You need to help build a cohesive and coherent plan that includes not just what content you will create, but also how you are going to publish it and promote it.

JW: It’s all about meeting objectives. Is this content to raise awareness? Or is it to convert lurkers on a website into buyers?

It’s also about looking at data to find out what types of content a client’s audience wants and how it wants that delivered.

When we get into content creation mode, we work like an editorial newsroom to script, write, edit and sub-edit. That then goes through a cycle of refinements until we are happy for it to leave our office and reach the client for sign-off.

 

There’s a continuous debate about the virtues of long- versus short-form content. Which do you think is best?

MM: It’s not really about what’s better. It’s about what’s most appropriate.

We do live in a fast-paced world, but to say that nobody wants to read more than 500 words just isn’t true. Long-form content has always received more shares and links than shorter pieces. People do appreciate the time that goes in to creating quality long-form content. And Google does too, with their algorithm generally favouring longer content.

 

So, are there rules for creating great content that you stick to?

JW: We like to use the simple TRUTH test – that the content is Topical, Relevant, Unusual, Trouble (solves, raises awareness of or discusses) and importantly, contains Human interest.

But it has to be delivered in the right format as well. Many people were surprised to hear that Media First and Thirty Seven have joined forces to create this magazine. Yes, it might seem a bit retro but not all audiences are the same; not everyone wants to read a blog or get their information from social media. I have a Kindle and iPad at home but still buy books, newspapers and magazines.

 

The General Data Protection Regulation is coming, giving individuals more control over how their personal data is collected and used online. What will it mean for the content marketing industry?

JW: It’s certainly something our clients need to be aware of, not least because the new regulation is so far-reaching. It will affect not just marketing but internal comms and even supplier contracts.

You can either hide under your desk and pretend it’s not happening. Or you can see it as an opportunity to be proactive.

I personally think it’s a great thing. I will have more control over my data and who markets to me. And as a content producer, I will know that we are providing our audiences with information they want.

 

So, what does the future look like for content marketing?

MM: We are drowning in content and it is getting harder to get results. The average number of shares of any content has been steadily falling over the last few years. So the whole practice does need to evolve.

That means content marketers need to be a lot more strategic about the type of content they create, backed by better research. And instead of asking inexperienced or new writers to churn out low-quality pages of blogs for long-tail keyword targeting, content teams will be comprised of creative designers, developers, AI experts, videographers, as well as plenty of experienced writers and journalists too.

JW: We also know that it’s going to be important to work closely with our customers’ teams. I hate the concept of a full-service marketing agency, where everything is outsourced. I hate to see comms teams dwindling in size. We want to support our customers to retain in-house teams because we’ve seen just how important they are during the last 35 years working with Media First.

 

What’s with the name, Thirty Seven? How did you come up with that?

MM: Well, if you ask somebody to pick a random number between zero and 100, a disproportionate number of people will choose the number 37. The more you delve into the number – the fact that it appears more regularly than any other number in films, for example – you realise just how special it is. It’s attractive and we’re in the attraction game, so it made sense.

 

What’s it like working with each other? Do you always get on or are there things you disagree on?

MM: We’re very similar. We’re both ambitious and want to succeed.

But our work lives have been very different so we have different ideas about how things should be achieved.

JW: Sure, sometimes Mark and I approach things from a different angle. Occasionally this leads to disagreements. But we complement each other. If we were both the same, we wouldn’t be anywhere near as good as a team.

Ultimately, we both want to deliver projects that excite and motivate us. That’s the reason we get out of bed in the morning; not to just earn money to pay the mortgage. It’s about more than that.

 

At Thirty Seven, we offer content and design services to ensure your campaigns reach the right audiences at the right times. Our journalist led approach ensures your content is interesting, engaging and informative so you gain brand awareness and engagement whether it is social media content or a whitepaper. 

Adam Fisher
29th January 2018 - 3 mins read

Every company wants to be an authority in their sector - those that engage the media usually are

Media First designs and delivers bespoke media and communications courses that use current working journalists, along with PR and communications professionals, to help you get the most from your communications plan.