What Is Ephemeral Content?

Ephemeral content is non-lasting content, such as Twitter, Snapchat or Facebook stories. The unique qualities of Ephemeral Content makes it an interesting medium within many marketing strategies.

What is Ephemeral Content and why should I use it?

Ephemeral content is the latest addition to the ever-growing list of online marketing buzzwords. Ephemeral content is all content with a very short lifetimeEphemeral content is the antagonist of evergreen content that continues to provide valuable SEO traffic, years after publication.

Ephemeral content comes in two categories: temporary stories (such as on Twitter, Snapchat, Instagram Stories and Facebook Live), or live events (e.g. live press events, Q&As, symposiums, etc.).

In addition, I regard notifications as ephemeral content as well, as nearly all engagement happens when notifications pop up, compared to when listed.

Snapchat: the birth of ephemeral content

Snapchat was the first medium to introduce ephemeral content to the masses - now generating over 10 billion video views per day (ignore at your own peril!). Snapchat is one of the most effective ways to reach Millennials and Generation Z, but what makes Snapchat so compelling?

Snapchat’s secret to its popularity is simple: posts are only available for 24 hours. This is a strong incentive for users to interact immediately. Another interesting feature is that users receive a notification after someone made a screenshot. In times when other social media build ever-expanding repositories of content, Snapchat offers a very interesting and engaging concept. Both Facebook and Instagram tried to copy these functionalities with their Stories.

Reasons to include ephemeral content in your marketing mix

Fear Of Missing Out (FOMO)

Modern marketing has switched focus - from branding to engagement. Prospect interaction has proven to lead to more and better business results, compared to traditional reach and branding KPIs. This plays right into the main strength of ephemeral content: Fear Of Missing Out (FOMO).

Ephemeral content has a very limited lifespan. This causes more readers to act immediately, for fear of losing out. This works especially well to stimulate impulse buying or to populate your remarketing - for lasting attention and branding.

Engaged audience

The limited lifespan of ephemeral content creates a veil of exclusivity: it’s now or never, and people don’t want to be the one who’s not in the know. Especially Millennials (with a buying power of one trillion dollars by 2020) have incorporated ephemeral content from Instagram, Snapchat and Facebook in their daily routine.

A good way to increase brand recognition and brand engagement is to frequently provide interesting or funny ephemeral content. The ephemeral content’s high engagement rate allows you to frequently touch base with your subscribers, creating a bond with your brand, or occasionally use it to promote events (ephemeral content in itself), product launches, or to generate up-sales.

High engagement & sharing rates

Content on mobile phones tends to take over the whole screen, increasing engagement. In addition, as most ephemeral content is embedded in social media, it tends to be shared 40x as often in comparison to other content types.

This high sharing factor can be further increased using QR- and Snapcodes,

Reach a younger audience

Research shows that younger audiences are moving away from Facebook to new channels, such as Insta Stories and Snapchat. To keep in touch with millennials, organizations need to expand to new online marketing channels, such as Snapchat or Insta Stories.

However, older audiences are also adopting ephemeral content. Facebook Live is growing rapidly, as well as attendance in online courses and seminars.

Mobile = personal device

Ephemeral content is often created and shared on mobile devices, which are never far from their owners. This makes it easier for people to receive notifications and consume content.

Event promotion

Snapchat’s geo-filter offers a great way to promote location- and time-sensitive content. It provides marketers the opportunity to reach out to an audience in a certain location, at a certain time, and is an excellent way to promote local events.


More and more platforms offer the opportunity to create and share ephemeral content. There is demand for short-lived, high-value content, as we also see growth in the promotion of (online and offline) events. Also, people like exclusiveness and get triggered by the opportunity to join something special, or fear of missing out (FOMO). It’s no accident that these are all good lines for advertising copywriting!

If your target audiences use such channels, give it a try and add it to your marketing mix. Ephemeral content can, due to its authenticity and high engagement factor, generate a fair amount of business results.

This article was written by:

Olaf Pijl

Olaf Pijl

Performance Marketing Consultant

Award-winning marketing geek. Analytics advocate. Passionate about performance.

With 20 years marketing consultancy experience, I help to increase marketing success through innovative, data-driven marketing strategies. Won an efficiency award for Best Digital Campaign, keynote speaker at the eMetrics Summit and the International Marketing Congress.

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