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

Memes in marketing - when brands go millennial

Emily Stonham 19th December 2018 — 7 mins read
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e’re a strange bunch, and it’s because of this that brands have found it so hard to market to us. How can you expect to see results from a lovingly crafted, artistic marketing campaign on TV when the height of comedy for my age group is someone doing surgery on a grape?

There’s been plenty of examples over the years of brands trying to capitalise on our strange humour, ranging from the mildly successful to the downright embarrassing. Brands using memes in marketing seems to be one of the main offenders here. If you’re not familiar with memes, Google defines them as ‘an image, video, piece of text, etc., typically humorous in nature, that is copied and spread rapidly by Internet users, often with slight variations.’

My generation in particular (Gen Z, born from 1995 onwards) is often berated by the media for being glued to our phones. Whilst I disagree with this being true for every teenager, stereotypically it can be true for quite a few of us.

A lot of us adore social content, and would rather be on Netflix or YouTube than traditional TV channels. Memes in particular form a large part of the content of many social media platforms for my generation now, specifically Instagram, Reddit and Tumblr. Despite all this, a lot of brands seem to be missing the mark with their attempts at humorous marketing.

Here’s three of my favourite examples of corporate meme usage - good and bad - with some insights on how to use memes and modern humour to your brand’s advantage online. 

 

Denny’s Twitter Account

The American diner Denny’s has found a unique niche on Twitter. Namely, it’s one of the weirdest corporate accounts out there - and people love it. In 2013, the brand’s social media was taken over by the EP+Co agency. They had one simple aim, which was to make the brand’s social media activity not sound like a corporate account.

Fast forward to 2018, the brand is infamous for its bizarre and occasionally disturbing breakfast-themed content on a number of platforms. They’re experts at hijacking popular trends and current news and popular culture events on Twitter, such as the removal of the iPhone headphone jack.

 

 

Such is Denny’s success that they have international followers from places that don’t even have one of these restaurants. Its Twitter account even helped kickstart a new meme format a while back, by hiding a message in a pancake.

 

 

Gucci Memes

Here’s a surprising one. Out of all the brands to use memes in marketing, would you expect a luxury, high-end retailer to get involved? Not many people did, which is why these were received with gleeful concern.

Gucci created #TFWGucci (That Feeling When Gucci) to promote its new line of watches. They commissioned a number of pieces of artwork, and then had popular meme creators make content with them. The results were fairly mixed.

 

  

 

Some were pretty funny and went down well online, but others just seemed a bit odd and out of touch. Fashionista made some pretty good points in this article, mentioning how it’s strange for a large, established brand like Gucci to be making memes, as the origin of niche memes involved talking about topics like mental health - which were too taboo to talk about in mainstream media.

 

 

Overall, it was interesting but seemed a little bit out of character for such a high-status brand. To really appeal to the meme community, Gucci should have probably had a bit more existential dread

 

Wendy’s Memer Advert

This one is a little older, but it still makes my soul hurt.

When it first came out, it had people debating whether this was deliberately meant to be so terrible, in order to create hype online.

Anyone who’s been vaguely aware of memes for the last few years or so will see the glaring issues with this advert.

It’s just cringey. Plain and simple. There’s no punchline, there’s not even really an element of self-awareness – which is one of the elements that memes are normally recognised for.

This meme format with the bold white text and ‘like a boss’ arguably hasn’t been funny for a good ten years or so. It’s completely out of date, which defeats the objective of using memes (they’re topical and based heavily around online trends).  

Regardless of whether this was genuine, self-aware or an attempt at possibly creating nostalgia for meme fans, I don’t think it worked very well. It left many online viewers feeling irritated and enraged by how out of touch it was.

If the point of the advert was to get people talking about the brand (and how out of date it was), then fair play. But if the point was to make sales, I don’t think this was the best strategy as many seemed more annoyed with the brand than engaged with it.

There’s even a Reddit thread dedicated to this sort of mishap, called r/CorporateFacepalm. It’s worth checking out before you try any sort of memes out yourself – or if you just want a laugh.

There’s plenty more examples of corporate memes dotted all over the internet - some mildly funny, others just simply embarrassing.

In all seriousness though, creating memes can be a dangerous game to play when using them for advertising or marketing a brand. For example, memes can have hidden meanings or symbolisms that will be understood by people active on particular parts of social media, but skate right over the heads of corporate teams.

Pepe the frog, for example, was a very popular meme a while back.

 

 

Pepe was widely used by the media and political campaigns until he was found to have associations with the alt-right. Pepe never originally had racist associations, but it was hijacked by certain groups of people to suit their own causes.  

By the time Pepe was used in the 2016 United States presidential election campaign, he had already been branded a hate symbol. He’s now in the Anti-Defamation League’s guide to hate symbols, much to the amusement of some parts of the internet.

This happens fairly frequently, and unless you have someone working for you who spends the majority of their time looking at memes, you might accidentally post something that has horrible hidden messages associated with it. It’s a big risk to take, especially for large or well-established brands.

Another negative to using memes is how quickly they age. As I was researching for this blog, I came across a bunch of meme adverts from around 2012-2015. This article from Digiday has some good examples of what I mean- specifically, the Virgin Media one. My first reaction was that they were terrible, simply because of how outdated they automatically seemed to me.

Thinking about it, it’s quite likely that these campaigns would have been funny when the memes were on trend. They fit the meme well, and they’re not too awkward. But they seem so bad to us now because of how old the format is.

Meme trends change so quickly and so do reactions to them. In the time that it’s taken me to write this blog and get it through the editing/approval process, the ‘doing surgery on a grape’ meme I referenced in the opening paragraphs has already gone out of date and is now considered to not be funny.

If your brand is modern and has a fairly young audience, it can be a highly effective marketing strategy to use memes and edgy jokes in your content. If not, your audience may be confused by your attempt at being trendy. Bear in mind your target market, especially if you’re attempting dark humour with your campaigns.

And steer clear of using memes unless you’re absolutely certain that your audience will enjoy them, and that you understand the meme properly. It’s not worth the effort if your campaign is just going to end up being mocked on a Reddit thread.

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 an eBook.

Emily Stonham
19th December 2018 - 7 mins read

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