Now You See It, Now You Don’t: Embracing Ephemeral Marketing

Today it is a matter of considering which "short-lived" marketing strategy deserves your full, yet brief, attention.

These days, content marketing is all the rage. In fact, a 2014 B2B Small Business Content Marketing report indicates that 94 percent of small business-to-business marketers are leveraging content marketing strategies as they forge ahead with their campaigns.

Ultimately, content marketing consists of harnessing the influence of the Internet. Custom blogs, infographics and other web graphics, webinars, videos and other media that is personalized can add value for customers and help to solidify a brand. Needless to say, it’s top-of-mind for all advertisers in 2014. It’s practically all that’s being talked about.

By building and maintaining mutually beneficial relationships through engaging content, marketers are betting that customers will continue to open their wallets and support their businesses. In today’s increasingly digital world, competitors can be found instantly and fickle customers can change their minds in a moment’s notice. Because of this, relationships are essential.

While content marketing can trace its roots back to John Deere’s The Furrow (i.e., a magazine first published in 1895 that pundits consider the first creation of custom content) the marketing format was not always as pervasive as it is today. With this in mind, marketers of the future might scoff when they look back at today’s content marketing (as a phase) which, despite being exceedingly popular, may ultimately prove to be unworthy of the investment.


Mastering ‘Short-Lived’ Marketing Trends

Despite the fact that, generally speaking, all things come to an end, marketers who have yet to leverage content marketing shouldn’t rest on their laurels. Nor should they sit on the sidelines while competitors churn out an abundance of content. While content marketing may very well prove to be just another marketing trend, you’ve got to get your hands dirty in order to capitalize on it today because truth be told — it shows no real signs of slowing down.

But I realize that is easier said than done. Just when most small businesses think they’ve finally mastered their social media strategies, a new platform comes along and they’ve got to rewrite their plans. Just after you’ve mastered Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and Google+ marketing strategies, along comes Snapchat, a photo and video messaging application that is by nature — here today, and gone tomorrow. It is deemed the fastest way to share a moment with friends. Users control how long their friends can view a message – simply set the timer up to ten seconds and send. They’ll literally have that long to view a message and then it disappears forever. “Forbes estimates that 50 million people currently use Snapchat,” since it’s debut in 2012.

Snapchat is a prime example of ephemeral (i.e., lasting for a very short time) marketing trends that are short-lived by design. And thanks to the rising popularity of social media services like Snapchat, the word “ephemeral” (when applied to marketing campaigns) takes on a whole new meaning.


Here Today and Gone Tomorrow … or Even Sooner

In today’s on-the-go society, where everyone is mobile, Snapchat may very well be a marketer’s best friend. In fact, many noteworthy brands like McDonald’s, Taco Bell and the NBA are turning to the social media application to promote their businesses. Since Snapshot content delivery is timely and fleeting, companies have the ability to capture the undivided attention of their customers, something nearly impossible in today’s digitally-centric world.

However, others believe that the opportunity for businesses to leverage ephemeral social environments, like Snapchat, is not without its limitations. After all, how can a company gauge the success of a campaign that expires in 10 seconds or less?

According to Synecore writer Chris Horton, “As much as apps like Snapchat hold promise for businesses, they also present some novel complications, especially with regard to performance measurement and monitoring. A recent post in AdWeek reflected this sentiment by quoting Thomas Husson, Forrester’s principal analyst of marketing and strategy, who noted, ‘Marketing on ephemeral networks such as Snapchat, where content literally vanishes seconds after being received, is tricky…these new networks are primarily peer-to-peer communication platforms where consumers expect relevant and entertaining content—not ads.'”

But even with its critics, Snapchat has made a name for itself amongst marketers who use the service to build brand awareness and generate a buzz around new product launches. For example, a New York City-based yogurt shop, 16 Handles, launched a Snapchat campaign that asked customers to take a Snapchat photo while eating the company’s products and subsequently send that image to its account. In return customers received a discount (i.e., from 16 to 100 percent, a number unknown to that person until a purchase was made). Through this campaign, the yogurt shop is said to have made 1,400 new connections.

So, the fact of the matter remains: ephemeral marketing is making inroads and short-lived marketing platforms, like Snapcha, grow in popularity. With this in mind, it’s a matter of considering which “short-lived” strategy deserves your full, yet brief, attention.


This article has been edited and condensed.

Savannah Flynn is a public relations specialist for WebpageFX, a full-service Internet marketing, web design and web development agency offering integrated web solutions for medium to large sized businesses across the globe. She has a passion for online marketing and PR.


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