Published on March 14, 2018

Ephemeral moments—those fleeting instances when we catch a glimpse of something before it’s gone—have come to define today’s social media. These bits of content that appear, prompt for interaction and disappear as quickly as they arrived, are successful for a reason: time is their engagement factor. This adds a new dimension to creative thinking and media planning. From user-generated content to produced shows to apps, several platforms offer disappearing “moments” of interaction that may open a new door for brands to engage with people.

It all started with a snap

Emulating how we communicate face to face, Snapchat introduced the concept of casual, shareable camera captures that disappear when seen. Based on the premise that moments are temporary, they've created one of the most disruptive apps adopted by more than 300 million users.

Because posts last 24 hours and disappear forever, there's a sense of urgency to view them, making users more likely to check the app frequently so they don’t miss anything. Flipping through stories on Snapchat, or now on Instagram, has become a routine for many, creating an opportunity for brands to become part of this new habit.

We live in the Relationship Economy, where currency is attention and getting people's attention time and time again is a marketer’s holy grail. Tapping into the fear of missing out (FOMO), people feel excluded if they don't tune in to what's going on in the present moment. This generates a sense of urgent exclusivity.

Short-form shows

Media producers, such as NBC Universal, Turner, Discovery, ESPN, Vice Media and the NFL, already noticed this phenomenon and started producing short-form content as shows in Snapchat Discover. Some studios are even independently producing episodic series for Instagram.

Brands like McDonald’s, MTV, Rimmel and Sephora sponsor episodic shows from Bustle, New Form or WeBuyGold studios—in addition to placing ads within the Story Ads format—revealing how brands are starting to play in the space by introducing their messages in a more native environment.

Live apps

Another form of in-the-moment capture is Live video, allowing viewers to participate (like and comment) while the transmission is happening then revisit the recorded content on their news feed. This has propelled another wave of ephemeral moments with live video apps like HQ Trivia. This mobile application features a live game show, hosted by a fun guy called Scott Rogowsky (or guest hosts like Jimmy Kimmel), who ask 12 questions to a consistent million viewers twice a day on weekdays and weekend nights—that's a total of 12 million people every week.

Instant apps

Google is rethinking where apps are going. An Android engineer said that "Web pages are ephemeral. They appear, you use them, and never think about them again." Installing apps, on the other hand, comes with a lot of friction when users often only want to perform a single action or get a specific piece of information from them. So Google launched Instant Apps, providing the speed of a light web page and the benefits of a native app. Facebook has used other types of “instant” formats through instant articles and some advertising platforms like the S4M landing pages.

Where are we going with this?

Now that the "when" conditions the "how" and "what" by modifying the "why"... Are we going Ephemer-ALL?

How can we plan for disappearing moments? What's the best way to measure success? Are brands more valuable to people by being present in the now? What's the real benefit?

We’re scratching the surface on how brands can use this behavior. Brands have struggled to better connect with people, alternatively trying to offer more value and less interruption. May these ephemeral moments become connectors for brands?

We should ask ourselves these questions as our behaviors emerge in adapting to our #Connected Life.

Originally Published on MediaPost on February 26, 2018.

Sergio Barrientos

Sergio BarrientosChief Strategy Officer - M8

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