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Case Study: Ephemeral content on Instagram

Ephemeral content is not just a buzzworthy trend but also an actionable marketing tool that helps to reach your potential audience in a genuine way. In this article, I discuss 7 proven reasons why ephemeral content is important for your business and how to do it.

As a short-lived content, ephemeral content gains many users for a fear of missing out (FOMO). Thus, using ephemeral content as a part of your marketing strategy is a way to optimize Instagram marketing. It also helps to deliver your brand message and build brand awareness faster.

Any proof needed? Let's take a look at statistics:

Even though ephemeral content has many fans, it may seem to be useless to take it up as it disappears after 24 hours.

However, there are seven proven reasons to use ephemeral content for your business:

1. Stay Authentic

According to the Stackla report, 86% of people find authenticity an important element when deciding what brands they like and support. In the era of brand advocates and sponsored posts, modern customers crave authenticity more than ever. Thus, brands should act with integrity, and using ephemeral content is a perfect way to foster authenticity without clogging up with regular content.

Take Followers Behind the Scenes

If you want to humanize your company and gain customers' trust, take your followers behind the scenes. Giving users a sneak peek into your day will make them feel special, and it helps your brand build credibility.

To encourage more young women to get interested in the STEM, NASA takes followers behind the scenes to introduce some of the women who work in the company.

ephemeral content-Behind the Scenes_NASA

Capturing employees in their work environment helps followers understand more about the company and its values. However, it's not the only one way to take your customers behind the scenes – show your workplace, share the process of creating something new, or introduce the business owner.

Go Live

Live video is getting more and more popular among brand audiences, and 80% of people would rather watch brand stream than read a blog. When brands go live, they portray transparency as nobody knows what's going to happen next. Audiences have the fear of missing out (FOMO), so live streaming keeps them engaged. Therefore, it's a perfect way to integrate offline and online marketing and bring authenticity to your brand.

Let's take Beyond Yoga, for example. As an athleisure brand, they organize sports events to attract their target audience. And live streaming provides their followers with a first-look demonstration of the product.  

ephemeral content-beyondyoga_go_live

The brand filmed the group boxing class where all participants were wearing their clothes. It allowed potential customers to see how the gear can fit the body. It was a perfect way to engage the audience and take them from a static website image to hint at what they can expect after buying the clothes.

2. Increase Reach

Ephemeral content helps to increase reach for two reasons. First, Instagram stories appear in a separate feed, so it's a way to beat the algorithm and increase reach. Second, when Instagram users go live, their followers get a notification. Therefore, it helps to attract interested people even if they don't use the app at the moment.

What is more, if you have an influence on Instagram, your stories can also appear at the top of the explore page which means giving an opportunity to gain a wider reach.

Run Instagram Story Ads

Paid advertising is the easiest way to reach your target audience fast. When you run Instagram Story ads, you can tell more about your brand to Instagrammers who might be interested in your product even though they aren't your followers. Now, brands can use carousel ad format to add multiple types of media, and therefore showcase your product in details.

Many brands give Instagram Story ads a try, and Pela Case tries to find new potential customers with this type of advertisement. They show off their product and add a link to the website to provide interested Instagrammers with further information if needed.

ephemeral content-ads_pelacase

Learning from Pela Case, marketers should keep in mind that posting sponsored stories helps to avoid being get buried in the feed, and therefore reach more users.

If you want to reach more people without annoying them with your sponsored posts, lay a bet on Instagram Story ads as it pops up spontaneously while they are watching other story posts.

Running Instagram Story ads is a perfect way to reach your target audience and then target these people on Instagram feed.

3. Boost Engagement

For a variety of reasons, the number of posts on Instagram is kept on growing. As a result, users miss many posts in the feed. To increase visibility, creating engaging content is a must. And the more people like and comment on your photos, the better. However, using ephemeral content is another way to boost engagement.

To begin with, you need to know what interests your audience to craft an engaging Instagram Story.

Create Polls

When Instagram rolled out a Story poll feature, it became popular among users. Creating a story poll is an actionable way to give your fans a say and conduct market research in an interesting way.

Sephora often creates polls to gather the followers' feedback. People feel valued when the brand is interested in their preferences, so they love to take part in the polls.

ephemeral content-Sephora Instagram polls

This way, Sephora knows what shop items are their fans' favourite ones. Moreover, adding a swipeable link is a great opportunity to encourage purchase decisions. And to gain trust, Sephora thanks fans for voting and it makes them want to come for more.

It's no wonder using polls helps to keep your audience engaged. When you have a question, ask it and give your audience a clear reason to engage.

Add Nametags

Instagram users can tag other people in their Stories, and it's a perfect way to hook their attention to get better results. Every time you mention people, they get notifications in their message inboxes.

For example, Nordstrom shares quotes that align with their brand's principles and credits the authors to stay genuine and increase engagement.

ephemeral content-nametags on instagram

The takeaway? Your name tag should be relevant to avoid being spammy. When you mention and credit people, you get additional views and gain trust from other users who may want to be featured on your IG account, too.

4. Get More Followers

A solid Instagram following is not just about getting more likes and comments; it's also about unlocking the potential to turn more followers into customers. Thus, marketers are obsessed with the idea to attract more followers, and using ephemeral content helps to reach other users without spending money on ads.

Add Geo Locations

Posting Instagram Stories, you can add geotags to inform your followers about your location, engage local fans, and get an additional chance to be discovered by other people interested in your location.

When it comes to sharing career tips, Sprout Social features the in-house expert who speaks in the workplace, adding a geotag.

ephemeral content-geotags on instagram

When the followers tap on the geotag, they can see where Sprout Social HQ is situated on the map and find other posts with the same tag.

Instagrammers are able to browse Stories by location, so adding a geotag is another way to appear on the Instagram Explore page.

Use Hashtags

Sharing hashtags is another way to be explored by other people who search for a specific hashtag on their Explore page. Users can add a hashtag in text or stickers. If you wonder what hashtags you should use in your Instagram story, think about the results you want to achieve.

There are 3 main ways to use hashtags:

  1. geographical – use hashtag as a geotag.
  2. strategic – think about a hashtag that is popular among potential followers and relevant to your story.
  3. supportive – if you have a campaign you have to promote and it has a brand name, use it.

Here's a case study of this strategy in action by NYX Cosmetics. The company runs a contest, Face Awards, and they use stories to promote it, using the branded hashtag. It supports the idea and helps interested people find out more about it.

ephemeral content-hashtag_NYX

NYX company uses a supportive hashtag to attract target audience in a genuine way. Browsing the Explore page, new fans can stumble upon branded stories and become followers in order not to miss the fresh news.

Although most users know the reasons for using hashtags in regular posts, it can be a creative way to reach more potential followers with the ephemeral content.

5. Boost Sales

Wouldn't it be great if you could sell on Instagram? As Instagram is rolling out more features, it's getting easier to encourage followers to make purchase decisions without leaving the app. If you still wonder whether you need to use ephemeral content, think about an opportunity to boost sales.

Show Off Your Product

Ecommerce businesses face a challenge – their customers can't try before they buy, so it leads to hesitancy to purchase. To overcome this challenge, brands need to show off their product from different angles.

When it comes to highlighting the product, Gap uploads several stories in a row to showcase the outfit. They also tag products to allow people to follow the link and find out more information (and prices) if needed.

ephemeral content-showoff_GAP

If you're lucky to interest your followers, it's important to provide them with further information about your product as fast as you can. Thus, adding a website link helps to make the purchase process easier, and therefore convert followers into customers.

Share Deals

Let's be honest: people love offers and deals. It's in our nature to crave for special deals, so it's a perfect opportunity for brands to attract new customers, make returning customers happier and boost sales.

A good example of boosting sales is Whole Foods. They post Instagram stories with deals, telling their customers more about the deadlines and prices.

ephemeral content-deals_wholefoods

What can we learn? Don't make your customers wait. Include all relevant information and a link to make it easier for them to discover more if needed.

Promotions influence purchases and the more followers know about the deals, the more clients you can get.

Inform About What's New

If you launch new products, that's great. It means your company tries to satisfy customers' needs and expand the market. However, before your audience knows about the new products, thinking about sells is a waste of time. You need to inform about what's new, and Instagram stories announcements is a great way to do it.

Let's take a look at Lululemon. When they launch new products, they post stories to showcase what's new: a great image, a short description, and a link to the website.

ephemeral content-whats_new_LULULEMON

What is more, they create Stories Highlights to group all new products and keep them in one place. For new visitors, it means saving time on exploring the feed to find new collections.

Nothing grabs attention like launching something new. Thus, it's a perfect way to increase Ecommerce revenue on Instagram without overposting.

6. Earn Trust

What makes you any different from the thousands of other Instagram brands hoping for attention? Your brand trust. If you've proved your customers that the company cares about their them, trust forms. It's about your brand reputation. The more loyal customers you have, the more new consumers you can attract.

Share Testimonials

Based on customer reviews, 70% of people make the purchase decisions. Thus, it's important to share a real-time experience of your buyers, using their own words. Sharing testimonials is a proven way to grab the attention of potential buyers.

A beauty brand Supergoop! gets many mentions in fashion magazines, and sharing screenshots in stories allows followers to read reviews.

ephemeral content-testimonials_supergoop

It doesn't take much effort to take a screenshot and upload it to the story. However, it helps followers understand that your brand is chosen by trustful sources which means it is worth trying.

NB: Instagram has rolled out a feature that allows you to reshare a post to your story. If someone posts about you, tell your followers about it with a few simple clicks. Moreover, you credit the author as the original username is listed beneath the photo in the story.

Post UGC

Living in the digital era, most people have a smartphone with them, so the number of photos is kept on growing. People take many photos, and they are happy to create user-generated content that can help your brand grow. Just imagine: 86% of Millennials believe that UGC is a good indicator of a brand o product's quality.

Building brand trust is one of the reasons to encourage UGC on Instagram, so it's important to understand how to use ephemeral content to maximize profits.

The popularity of Converse shoes is undeniable. The brand gets many mentions on IG, and the marketers use it to attract more customers. They share user-generated content on Stories to show off their products in a genuine way.

ephemeral content-User Generated Content_Converse

People want to feel a sense of belonging and be valued, so they love when a big company tags them. As a result, such customers are more likely to generate more posts and become brand advocates.

Feature Influencers

Influencer marketing is on the rise. While people opt for blocking ads, collaborating with influencers is a great way to create authentic stories and promote your brand. Opinion leaders have an influence on their community, so customers trust influencers' product recommendations. Therefore, even micro-influencers can have the credibility that brands may not have.

Sunglassbee loves working with bloggers and influencers, so they often collaborate with opinion leaders who are ready to promote their product. Once an influencer posts a photo, the brand shares it on their account and stories.

ephemeral content-Influencers_Sunglassbee

The company posts a lifestyle photo with a nametag to prove the influence of a person. What is more, they add a link to allow customers to find out more about the selected model. As a result, it can lead to sales boost.

When looking for the right influencer, don't focus on the following. Think whether the chosen person and his/her views resonate with your target audience. If your audience relies on the opinion leader, the collaboration can bring great results.

Take Care of Your Customers

Great customer support is not just about creating and delivering high-quality products; it's also about taking care of your customers even if you don't sell your products. When you put your customers first and satisfy their potential needs, they trust you, and therefore consider your brand when it comes to making purchase decisions.

To take care of your customers, you need to know them well: their interests and desires. For example, Benefit Cosmetics knows that their audience loves animated content, so the brand creates unique GIFs and encourages their followers to use them, using the branded keyword.

ephemeral content-Smth_useful_benefits

Although creating branded GIFs doesn't sell the products, it helps to gain customers' trust. When you take care of your followers, you invest in nurturing relationships with them. Over the long haul, the payoff is huge.

7. Be an Expert in your Niche

Becoming an expert in your niche requires much time and effort. When your brand gain authority and credibility, your customers stand you out from the crowd. It goes without saying that gaining recognition gives you many benefits, so working on making your name synonymous with your niche is a must. Moreover, there are several simple techniques you can try.

Organize Q&A Sessions

No matter how good your product is, your customers may have questions about it before purchasing. Customers always have concerns whether to buy a product or not and predicting their questions about your product is a great way to minimize the risks of the cart abandonment.

Business owners and marketers know the product from A to Z. Thus, it doesn't take much effort to answer common questions potential customers may have. Moreover, organizing Q&A sessions with the help of ephemeral content is an engaging way to demonstrate product expertise, and therefore earn trust.

Once Starbucks has introduced the new beverage, Ultra Caramel Frappuccino, they created a Story Highlight dedicated to the launch.

ephemeral content- QandA_Starbucks

To increase customers' interest, the company collects questions their fans post online and answer them. The result? More fans have a strong appetite for the new-product launch.

If you get questions via DM, answer them directly and post the answers to your story to allow other fans to understand more about your product in case they have the same concerns.

Use Tutorials

Customers don't care about your product until it can solve their problems. Instead of listing the benefits of your product, try to sell the solutions, and posting how-to tutorials is a great way to showcase the potential of the product and teach what you know best.

With the rise of video content, Sephora has started using online tutorials to share makeup tips and tricks while getting their products noticed.

ephemeral content- tutorials_sephora

As Instagram Stories has 15-seconds time limit, it's hard to upload a full tutorial, so Sephora begins with a teaser and pushes fans to take an action by posting a full video on the YouTube channel.

If you can provide your followers with valuable and useful information, they will never forget you. And as an expert in your niche, don't be greedy for sharing tips and tricks to gain trust.

Share Hacks

Working in any niche, you must know its trends. To become an expert, you need to keep an eye on trends and be innovative. Once you know something valuable about your niche, share it with your followers for a chance to gain their trust.

As a fashion brand, JCrew knows what is trendy, so they share Instagram Stories with style hacks to help their target audience learn about fashion.

ephemeral content-hacks_jcrew

The brand runs an effective employee-advocacy campaign, featuring their staff members. Workers know what the company stands for and they have experience and knowledge to share, so sharing their hacks is a great way to prove that your brand is an expert in the niche.

In a Word

Craving authenticity, it's no wonder ephemeral content is getting so popular among users. Incorporating ephemeral content into your marketing strategy is a proven way to bring your company to the next level. Moreover, Instagram rolls out many features for Stories and Live that help Ecommerce businesses achieve their goals on the platform.

By Nadine Burzler

Nadine is the Senior Marketing Executive at Smart Insights and is responsible for Business Memberships. Nadine is a multimedia content marketing specialist with extensive experience in startup and higher education marketing. Connect with her via LinkedIn

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Ephemeral content strategyInstagram stories

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