What do door-buster sales and Snapchat videos have in common? They’re both temporary and great for boosting engagement. From a content marketing standpoint, however, only the latter is useful.

Snapchat and its siblings Instagram Stories and Facebook Stories are the three main platforms for what’s known as ephemeral content. As we round the corner to 2018, it’s time to think about incorporating this type of content into your marketing strategy.

What is ephemeral content?

Short and sweet: It’s visual content – images and video – that’s only available for a short amount of time.

Wait, so it disappears?

That’s right. Ephemeral content is temporary, which may leave you wondering about the point of it all. You’re not alone; back when Snapchat debuted in 2011, a lot of people thought it was doomed to fail. Now, the app has 178 million daily active users (DAU).

That’s not all. Instagram Stories has 250 million DAU, and Facebook as a whole has 1.37 billion.

Clearly, Evan Spiegal, Bobby Murphy and Reggie Brown (Snapchat’s creators) were onto something when they thought, “Hey, what if people could send pictures to each other that disappear after a day?”

Well, do I really need this?

Considering the fact that AdWeek listed this style of marketing as the first of five social media trends that will be huge in 2018, your business should definitely get on board. In fact, we expect ephemeral content to get even better next year.

We predict, as Snapchat and Instagram continue to become more sophisticated, ephemeral content will only grow. With new technology like augmented reality, plus the continued impact of influencers, brands will be able to do a lot of interesting things.

Plus, from a consumer standpoint, ephemeral content is amazing. It touches on the idea of mindfulness, bringing consumers into the present moment with both authenticity and exclusivity. Marketers can take advantage of this, keeping users attached via their fear of missing out.

That FOMO (fear of missing out) is what makes ephemeral content so effective at immediately engaging your audience. The fact that your images or videos disappear generates a sense of urgency, and people will feel excluded if they don’t tune in to what you have to say. What’s more, the interactive features (comments, likes and polls) give viewers a way to share their thoughts and ideas. Not only do they feel respected by your company, but they get even more engaged in the present moment.

Okay, so what do I need to know?

Let’s go over the platforms you can use first. Below are the top three:


Facebook Stories launched earlier this year and is accessible through the app’s native camera feature. The images and videos you share appear at the top of a viewer’s news feed, and each person can view a story only twice within a 24-hour period. Facebook has a Live feature, but these videos are automatically posted to your feed after the broadcast ends.


Instagram’s ephemeral content feature is also called Stories, which makes sense since the platform is owned by Facebook (and actually, Instagram Stories came first). As with Facebook, the content disappears after 24 hours; unlike Facebook, however, you can embed polls in your posts. The Stories feature also has a live video option, so you can broadcast to your audience in real time. Sharing replays of your live videos preserves them in your Stories for 24 hours; otherwise, they disappear forever.


When people think of disappearing content, Snapchat is probably the first app that comes to mind. Unlike Instagram and Facebook, however, Snapchat doesn’t let you save any content to your feed permanently. After a visitor watches your Snap once, they can’t look at it again. They can, however, rewatch your Snapchat stories an unlimited number of times within 24-hours of posting. You can also capitalize on Snapchat’s popularity by creating geofilters, which are decorative graphics that users can apply to their Snaps when they’re in a specific location.


All three apps let viewers interact with your content through likes and comments, and they each give you data on who did what. Instagram’s polls are a particularly nifty feature, turning your audience into decision-makers and making them feel even more integral to your business.

Facebook and Instagram are staples of a social content marketing strategy, but keep in mind that Snapchat is mostly used by Generation Z. The platform is free, but you should still do some market research to see if this avenue is worth your time.

Finally, here are some tips from us:

  • Create content your audience truly wants to engage with, and keep your photos and videos closely aligned to the platform they’re on. Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat all have their advantages, so experiment and see which one works best for your market.
  • Stay personal and authentic. Ephemeral content makes your audience feel like your friend, so treat them as such. Don’t be overly formal; instead, give viewers the notion that they’re getting a peek behind the scenes.
  • Cut straight to the point. Your audience already knows your brand or work, so no need to rehash this information. Take risks, and post content that keeps viewers wanting more.

Got an ephemeral content success story? We want to hear about it!

Autumn Green is a Brafton writer living in Chicago. She thought she wanted to be an artist growing up, but her time in college taught her that writing is much more fun. On the weekends, you can find her browsing museums or buying cookbooks.