One great thing about being a young Gen X’er: There was no social media during my junior high and high school years.
Young millennials weren’t so lucky. They chronicled their adolescence in excruciating detail on Myspace, Facebook, YouTube and Twitter, every half-formed thought and laundry-detergent-eating stunt preserved forever.
So it’s no surprise that the youngest social media users leapt on Snapchat when it launched. Snapchat Stories provided the feeling of togetherness that social media’s good at, without the potential to embarrass your future self.
Other platforms were quick to buy into the idea of ephemeral content — content that expires and is deleted after a set period of time, usually 24 hours. Instagram’s creatively-named offering, Instagram Stories, boasts 500 million daily users. That’s more daily users for a single feature on Instagram than there are for the entirety of Twitter.
But don’t count Twitter out just yet — they’re testing their own ephemeral content, called, unfortunately, “Fleets.” Even the level-headed folks at LinkedIn* are testing LinkedIn Stories with a handful of users.
For B2B content marketers, ephemeral content seems like the opposite of everything we try to do. DISPOSABLE content? No SEO value, no repurposing potential… what’s the point?
Should B2B marketers go ephemeral? It depends. Here’s what you need to know.
Ephemeral Content for B2B Marketers
Before we get into specifics, you should first consider ephemeral content the same way you would any content. I’d recommend asking the following four questions.
Four Questions B2B Marketers Should Ask about Ephemeral Content
These questions aren’t unique to ephemeral content, of course. They’re questions worth asking for any new marketing channel or tactic. They are:
- Is my audience on this channel?
- Is my audience consuming content on this channel?
- Can we produce high-quality content for this channel?
- Does this channel offer a logical next step for our audience?
For most B2b marketers, the answers to all these questions is “yes.” If your audience includes millennials or young Gen Xers, they’re likely on Instagram Stories at least. They’re used to the format and will likely be open to ephemeral content on LinkedIn and Twitter as it rolls out.
Can your brand produce high-quality ephemeral content? That’s one of the chief selling points of Stories — they’re easy and cheap to produce. There are robust tools for creating them built into the platforms that host them. And audiences expect a more informal, less-produced content experience.
As far as next steps go, Instagram Stories are actually more marketer-friendly than Instagram posts. Users can swipe up in a story to go directly to another piece of content, a lead gen form, or any other hyperlink. There’s no “Please visit the link in our bio” for Stories — it’s an immediate pass-through.
Now, if your offering skews more to the Boomer demographic, or you’re courting people too hip — or technology-averse — to be on social media, you might hold off. But it’s safe to say the majority of B2B marketers can get some juice out of ephemeral content.
How to Make the Most of Ephemeral Content for B2B
You don’t get the opportunity to build a content library with ephemeral content. By its nature, it should serve a different purpose than blog posts or eBooks. Think about building an audience and engaging them on a regular basis, rather than creating a library people wander in and out of.
Focus on Your People, Not Your Product
There are plenty of outlets for you to serve up product information and sales brochures. Ephemeral content is better suited for highlighting the people who work for your company. Focus on what makes them unique, what makes them relatable, and what makes them excellent at serving your customers.
Mailchimp is great at this type of story. Their “Day in the Life” series highlights and celebrates individual employees.
“Ephemeral content is better suited for highlighting the people who work for your company. Focus on what makes them unique, what makes them relatable, and what makes them excellent at serving your customers.” @NiteWrites Click To Tweet
Be Passionate about Purpose
For a growing majority of consumers, what a brand sells is less important than what the brand stands for. We’re looking to buy from businesses that share our values, and B2B buyers are no exception. Ephemeral content is a good way to get the message out about your brand’s larger purpose in the world, to highlight your vision for the future and your progress towards those goals.
Lush is great at blending their purpose with their more product-centered ephemeral content. It only takes a few Instagram Stories to see exactly where they stand and what they value.
Show Your Personality
If your organization is still looking for permission to loosen up a little, ephemeral content is your permission slip. It’s a format with lower audience expectations, one that’s focused on short-form, entertaining content, and one that won’t linger to haunt you until the end of time.
So it’s well worth experimenting with your brand’s voice and personality. You may find that B2B buyers are just as starved for entertainment as the rest of us.
Cisco is absolutely killing it with their Stories right now. The playful, energetic tone isn’t what you would expect from a staid titan of industry, but it’s delightful to watch.
Serialize Your Content
Ephemeral content is all about building an audience that will make your feed appointment viewing. Serialized content can help establish that habit. There are a few easy ways to serialize:
- Establish regular features, like Mantra Monday, Thoughtful Thursday, or Whiskey Wednesday (okay, maybe not the last one)
- Chop up a long-form video into segments and air them sequentially
- Focus on a different department every week to explore your organization
For longer-form serialized content, it’s worth creating an IGTV Series. Series come with tools to help you create and promote new episodes to bring in subscribers. Check out General Electric’s Taking the World to Work series for inspiration.
Let’s Get Ephemeral!
Ephemeral content is one of the primary ways people are using social media — which means it’s relevant for any B2B business with an audience on social platforms. Adding ephemeral content to your content marketing strategy will exercise a different set of muscles than your regular content creation, but it’s a form that rewards continued experimentation.
Need help with ephemeral or evergreen content? Our content marketing team is ready.
* Note: LinkedIn is a TopRank Marketing client.