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

Pixel perfect- 4 brilliant examples of games being used in marketing

Emily Stonham 13th February 2019 — 9 mins read
G

amification is defined by the dictionary as ‘the process of adding games or game-like elements to something (such as a task) so as to encourage participation’. Using games in marketing can therefore be taken literally, with interactive games or apps to promote a service, or in a more abstract way, through gamification.  

Using gaming in your marketing is a fantastic way to tap into people’s natural instincts to compete and win. Psychologically speaking, most humans have an innate desire to compete. Of course, there’s plenty of people who like to just hug it out, but competition seems to be firmly rooted in our brains.

In this blog, we’re looking at everything from alternate reality games to YouTube gaming channels. I’ve collected four of my favourite examples of marketing games and gamified marketing campaigns to help inspire your next marketing move, take a look.

 

Halo 2- I love bees

The first thing that I thought of when researching for this blog post is Halo’s fantastic alternate reality game I Love Bees. This revolutionary game was not the first ARG, but it opened up a new path for creative marketing, and has led to many other innovative games since.

 

 

This game was designed to promote Halo 2, and started off with two key pieces of content. A website link to ilovebees.co was hidden in the Halo 2 cinematic trailer, and some previous ARG players received jars of honey in the post. These two events weren’t connected publicly for a while, but curiosity eventually got the better of players, who started exploring the website listed.

The website, which appeared to have originally been a beekeeping website, was covered in confusing snippets of text and code- almost as if it had been hacked (hint hint). The apparent owner of the site, Dana, posted a blog stating that her website had been compromised. Fans started to realise that this was something that could be solved, and began to work on unravelling the clues.

The premise of the game involved global co-operation between players, with practically no guidance. The players received times and GPS codes, which eventually led them to work out that they needed to go to specific payphones across the world at particular times to answer calls. Some calls were pre-recorded, others were ran by live operators which added another level to the immense detail of this ARG.

Other players worked on the website code, deciphering hidden messages that led to audio files being found that revealed a complete audio drama with the story of the game. The game increased in complexity as time went on, with players being emailed, phoned and invited to real character meetings. It all ended up with players being invited to one of four cinemas, where they could play Halo 2 before the release and get a collectible DVD.

The incredible detail and complexity of this game led to dedicated fans going above and beyond to win. One fan stayed to receive a phone call at one of the payphones whilst Hurricane Frances was merely minutes away from reaching them. I would call it a successful marketing game if players are willing to brave a hurricane, wouldn’t you?

The main thing to take away from this example is that people love games. Obviously, hosting a full scale ARG may not be the best business move, depending on your company. They require a ridiculous amount of planning and funding, and a customer base who’s going to actively engage with an interactive piece of content.

If you do have all of these things, though? Go for it. ARGs are amazing. I’d recommend listening to the podcast Rabbits- it’s one of the best pieces of fiction that I’ve ever listened to, and actually what kick-started my personal interest in ARGs in the first place.

 

UpUpDownDown

This next example is less about gamification, and more about actual video games being used for marketing. Arguably, this isn’t even a deliberate marketing move- but it’s had an amazing impact from a business perspective regardless.

UpUpDownDown is a gaming YouTube channel, run by Austin Creed. Austin Creed, more commonly known as Xavier Woods, is a member of the WWE tag team The New Day. This channel is hosted by Austin, and features a whole host of other WWE stars in every video. The channel is very successful (1.7M subscribers, at the time of writing) and I’m personally a big fan of the content that they produce.

The thing that intrigues me with this is how easily it slots into WWE’s marketing strategy. There’s the obvious benefits of it being a successful channel with a large audience- merchandise, brand deals and brand awareness for WWE. It also provides a more unique form of content for WWE fans, and can subtly encourage more hype around upcoming events, simply by mentioning it in a video.

The channel even has an impact on the TV show itself- The New Day have a set of ring gear (wrestling clothes) which is themed around UpUpDownDown.

When the channel was first created, it didn’t seem to fit WWE’s image so much. Obviously, it’s a project of Austin’s, but I believe the channel does benefit WWE in quite a few ways. There’s been collaborations with one of WWE’s own side channels, for example. Did it really match the theme of a wrestling company to be associated with a video gaming channel? Apparently so.

The lesson to learn from this marketing move is it’s important  to step outside of your comfort zone, every once in a while. Obviously, consider your actions and consider how your audience will perceive them (maybe don’t work with a pizza company if you’re a health food promoter). But do experiment with new platforms and forms of content, to keep your audience on their toes.

 

McDonald’s Monopoly

This is one of the most well-known examples of gamification in marketing, and it’s been around since 1987.The premise is simple- it’s basically fast food monopoly. Players collect tokens with their food purchases, and trade them in for prizes. These prizes can range from free food, all the way up to huge cash prizes.

The prizes for this game are so good, in fact, that there was a huge scandal involving fraud back in 2001. An employee figured out how to cheat the system, and ended up scamming ridiculous amounts of money out of McDonald’s. He ended up with a three year jail sentence, and 50 other people were convicted. Personally, I think I’d rather stick with the free dessert as a prize rather than a jail sentence, but each to their own.

In all seriousness, the longevity of this campaign shows how successful it is. The game encourages repeat business in a short amount of time, and successfully uses both print and digital to drive up hype around the campaign. I’ve even been sucked into this game before at my previous job, where the staff would band together and collect tokens as an entire team. I don’t even eat at McDonald’s regularly, I just wanted to play the game.

That’s the key takeaway from this campaign. If you’re going to use games or gamification, it needs to be simple and fun. If you can’t give a 30 second elevator pitch for the game you want your customers to play, it may be too complex and time consuming to drive any good levels of engagement. Keep it simple and fun, and try to avoid getting scammed for $24 million too.

 

Volkswagen Fun Theory

This final example is iconic in the gamification industry. Volkswagen created the Fun Theory campaign, to show how people’s behaviour could be influenced by adding an element of fun to a mundane task. This is one of my absolute favourites, as all the projects had a great impact on the environment, as well as being interesting from a psychological point of view.

There were numerous projects in the Fun Theory- my favourites being the piano stairs, the 50 foot drop bin and the bottle bin arcade. These were simple yet brilliant ideas, turning boring acts like walking up the stairs or recycling into something fun.

 

 

 

By turning the stairs into a working piano, a large majority of people took the stairs over using the escalator. The 50 foot drop bin and the arcade bin encouraged more people to recycle and pick up their rubbish. The positive effects of this campaign were amazing, and just go to show that gamification can have real impacts on the world.

The main lesson to learn from this campaign is that, generally speaking, people like to play. Gamification offers excitement and competition where there might not originally be any. If you’ve got a product that could stereotypically be considered quite dry or dull, using games in your marketing strategy could be a wonderful way to create excitement about your brand.

 

Overall

Overall, it’s worth your while adding an element of gaming into your marketing strategy. But how should you go about doing this?

If you’ve got the resources to do an ARG- go for it. They’re brilliant for engagement and brand loyalty, and are a great way to attract media coverage too. 

Try to step out of your comfort zone, too. If you always do the same thing over and over, people won’t keep coming back to your content as they’ll know what’s going to happen next. Surprise them. Launch a scavenger hunt, or release a mobile app. Maybe try using an online quiz, if you’re not sure about how to get started with gaming.

Remember to keep it simple and entertaining. If you have to spend more than 30 seconds explaining it, the novelty is gone and you won’t get very high levels of engagement. Add a points system to your game so people don’t have to track it themselves, or only ask people five questions instead of 50 in a quiz. Loyalty cards are another simple and popular way to add gamification into your marketing content as well.

If you’re still not sure about using games in your marketing content, or don’t know where to get started, get in touch with Thirty Seven today. We offer interactive game design services, and also other useful content creation services for gamification like contest or survey design. We’d be delighted to help with your marketing strategy and content creation, get in touch today at hello@thirtyseven.agency or 0118 380 0975.

 

Tom Idle
29th March 2018 - 8 mins read

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