Ephemeral Content

What Kinds of Ephemeral Content to Post

The last few blog posts have talked a lot about how to use ephemeral content (especially Snapchat and Instagram Stories) to your advantage. But we haven’t yet answered the eternal question – what should you post?

There’s no one-size-fits-all answer to that question, but here are some ideas:

  1. Flash sales
  2. Limited-time coupons
  3. Behind the scenes of your creative process or business workings
  4. Highlight an employee who did something great
  5. Celebrate an employee’s birthday
  6. Unusual visitors to the office (e.g. if someone brings their dog in)
  7. Post-work drinks or carry-in lunches for the team
  8. Where you are (whether that’s an industry event or a client’s office)
  9. Promote your latest deal, sale, or blog post
  10. A funny event or mistake that happened around the office (e.g. someone forgot to put the coffee pot under the coffee maker before they turned it on)
  11. Give a shoutout to an employee or business partner
  12. Promote other social networks your business is on
  13. Have a member of your team use a face-distorting filter (bonus points if it’s someone high up like a marketing manager)
  14. Do a live video with a Q&A
  15. Partner with an influencer for a Snapchat or Instagram “takeover”

Above all, keep your eyes open for creative opportunities. There’s a lot of ephemeral content-worthy things all around you; the key is training yourself to recognize it. To start, take time every so often to slow down and think, “Is there anything going on right now that would be interesting to post?” A lot of the time, the answer will be no. But sometimes you’ll realize that something happening right in front of you is a great thing to post. Keep your eyes open for those moments, and you’ll never run out of ephemeral content to post.

Ephemeral Content, Instagram

How to Succeed with Instagram Stories

If Snapchat is the network that started the ephemeral content trend, Instagram is the one that perfected it – Instagram stories has more daily users than Snapchat! Companies that do it well make creating a great Instagram story look easy, but it’s harder than it looks. Here are a few tips to help you succeed with your own Instagram stories.

Keep it polished

Even though Instagram stories lift their functionality directly from Snapchat, the two platforms require different strategies. Where Snapchat is perfectly fine with more raw, candid content, Instagram requires a certain level of polish. Don’t be afraid to give people a look into the daily workings of your business, but keep it professional.

Avoid too many hashtags

While putting a block of hashtags at the end of a normal Instagram post isn’t bad, putting too many hashtags in your story just clutters it. At most, choose one hashtag.

Use hashtags and locations

Even though you shouldn’t cram your story full of hashtags, it’s still a good idea to use one and/or include a location! This will get your story more exposure, since it will show up in searches for that tag or location (and could possibly be put in a “featured in this location” story collection for the tagged location).

Share interesting content

This is somewhat obvious, but make sure the content you share in your story is interesting. Chances are nobody cares about the new conference table at the office, but they might find it interesting to know that the C-suite executives all have walking desks. A good litmus test: “If one of the brands I follow posted this, would I be interested?”

Get creative

Good Instagram stories require creativity! The goal is for it to be engaging to your audience, and that requires some creative thinking. The most interesting thing in the world can still be not engaging if it’s presented uncreatively. If you’re not a creative person, it might be worth talking to a creative person about it – if nothing else, look at other brands’ Instagram stories and see what techniques of theirs you can imitate.

Ephemeral Content, Snapchat

Successful Social Media Marketing on Snapchat

Snapchat is the network that started it all when it comes to ephemeral content – their entire network is built on the idea of content that disappears after 24 hours (or, in the case of private messages, after one viewing). At first, it was purely a social network, with social media marketers not sure how to leverage content that disappears in their strategy.

But Snapchat’s been around for a few years now, and social media marketers have figured out how to work with it. Many brands are having huge success on Snapchat. Here are some things you can to do maximize your social media marketing success on Snapchat.

Post interesting content

This seems like a no-brainer, but I’m mentioning it anyway because a lot of people find it hard to post interesting content, especially if they’re new to social media marketing. Many times, people post things just to post something. A good rule of thumb is to ask yourself, “would I enjoy this if a brand I follow posted it?”

If you have a hard time with this, I’ll have a post up in a few weeks with ideas for content you can post on Snapchat.

Post regularly

I wrote an entire post on why you should post regularly on social media, and this holds true for Snapchat, as well. People will get used to seeing you and your content (and, if you follow the previous point, look forward to it).

Try a geofilter

Geofilters are filters (overlays that Snapchatters can put over their images) that are only available if the person is within a certain area. Sponsored geofilters can cost hundreds of thousands of dollars, but Snapchat recently released on-demand geofilters, which start at $5. It’s a great way to promote an event or something special going on in a certain area. Hootsuite has a great guide for setting one up that will tell you more.

Partner with influencers

Influencers (people who are already popular on Snapchat) will be able to help you grow your Snapchat audience. Many brands do “Snapchat takeovers” where they let an influencer take control of their Snapchat account for a certain amount of time. The influencer will promote this takeover to their audience, and their audience will follow the brand’s Snapchat to see what the influencer does. (Unfortunately, this method often requires you to have a big enough audience already to make it worth the influencer’s time.)

Keep the audience in mind

Snapchat’s user base is overwhelmingly young (some Millennials and a lot of Gen Z) and mostly female. Regular users open the app over 18 times and send more than 20 messages per day. If you’re going to be successful on Snapchat, you have to take into account who is on Snapchat and create content that is appealing for people under 30. It may even be worthwhile to consult with a member of Gen Z about your content when you’re still in the planning phase.

Ephemeral Content

Why You Should Invest in Ephemeral Content Now

I posted about ephemeral content once before, during my end-of-year predictions, when I said that ephemeral content was going to explode in 2018. With that said, I want to talk about why you should start investing in ephemeral content.

What is ephemeral content?

Ephemeral content is content that disappears after a set amount of time (usually 24 hours). Snapchat’s disappearing content model is built on the concept of ephemeral content. With Snapchat being such a huge success, other networks started leveraging ephemeral content, including Instagram (with Instagram Stories) and Facebook (with Messenger Day).

Why use ephemeral content?

At first glance, it can seem like a waste to invest in content that will only be posted for 24 hours. But there are actually some very good reasons why you should.

People like it

If you have no other reason, consider this one – audiences love ephemeral content! That’s why Snapchat got so huge, to the point that other networks are trying to imitate it. And overall, social media marketing is about finding and doing what audiences like.

Sales opportunities

People viewing ephemeral content are already operating on FOMO – Fear Of Missing Out. Add a limited-time offer into your story, and people are that much more likely to buy.

Engagement rates

Ephemeral content has great engagement rates. Especially if you’re targeting Millennials or Gen Z, ephemeral content is going to be a tool you want to use.

Stay tuned for more!

I’m going to be spending a lot more time talking about ephemeral content coming up, so if you want to learn how to use this great social media tool, stick with me for the month of March! There’s a lot more to come.

Video

Editing Tips for Social Video

For my last blog post of video month, let’s get into some of the details and talk about editing. There are a lot of different editing software out there, and they all do things a little bit differently, so I’m not going to give you precise instructions for how to do things. Unfortunately, you’re going to have to look up the how-to yourself. But what I am going to do today is give you some ideas of editing tricks you can use to make your videos better and more interesting. And all of these can be done on ShotCut or iMovie (the two simple, free editing tools I recommend).

Add Background Music

Background music can make your video more engaging to listen to and it seems more professional. iMovie already has a database of royalty-free music you can use, but Bensound has a good library for if you’re using ShotCut or just don’t like anything in iMovie’s database.

Use Cuts

Nothing looks less professional than a lengthy “um…” or a long pause between points. Use editing to cut out those pauses and make it flow better. (Just don’t cut it too close, or it will feel jumpy and disorienting.)

Add Images

If you have a point that could be illustrated with an image, put the image in an overlay so people can see the image while hearing you talk. This also works well if you’re doing a video that has several numbered points – you can put up a brief title card-style image to introduce each point. (I do this in my “The Art of Being On Camera” video.)

Use Title Cards

This is a technique that I don’t personally use, but other people have seen success with. Try putting an image at the beginning with your logo and the title of your video, and then one at the end that says “Thanks for watching!” or something similar.

Have a Unique Intro/Outro

Creating a unique greeting and farewell that you use on every video is helpful for branding and creating a consistent experience with every one of your videos. If you’re doing long videos or anything on YouTube, I highly recommend a theme song – a short, 10-15 second music clip with accompanying video that stays the same every video – but if you don’t want to go that fancy, you don’t have to. A good example of this is the YouTube channel The Game Theorists, who do have a theme song, but also start every video with, “Hello, internet, welcome to game theory!” and end with, “But hey, that’s just a theory – a game theory. Thanks for watching!” Something as simple as that can make your videos seem more professional and intentional.

Video

5 Types of Videos to Use in Your Social Media Marketing

I’ve spent most of “video month” focusing on the how (and a little bit of the why) of making videos to post on social media. Now it’s time to answer the question I know I’ve asked myself a lot – what? What kind of videos should I post?

Here are a few ideas for the types of videos you can create and post on social media.

Instructional videos

Short instructional videos are interesting and can be fun to watch, making them a safe bet. And you can get an instructional video or two out of almost anything. Food product? Instructions for a simple recipe. Anything that requires assembly? Assembly instructions. Home decor item? Instructions for styling or displaying it. You get the idea.

Long format

If you have a complex product or an in-depth service, try a longer (10+ minutes) video. Most people are in a hurry to skip a 30-second ad, but if your long video is engaging, statistics show that they will watch for 20 minutes or more. These are especially good for YouTube if you have a channel, but they can also be very successful on other networks.

Announcements

If you have a big announcement to make, do it in video! It will be more engaging for your audience and also easier to show how excited you are about it.

Q&A

Invite your audience to submit questions and then do a video Q&A session. This could be general company questions or questions for a specific person/people (e.g. the CEO).

Customer service

Get the same question over and over from potential customers? Have a problem that people keep running into over and over? Something that you want customers to know before (or after) they buy? Video can be a great way to answer those questions. And as a bonus, not only can you post them on social media, when you get those questions, you can tell the customer, “That’s a great question, we actually have a video answering that!”

And more

Obviously, there are a lot more types of videos you can do. See what some of your favorite brands are doing, or use Google to find inspiration. A lot of figuring out what works for your brand is going to be experimenting. Post all different kinds of videos and see what your audience likes best!

Video

Equipment for Filming Social Video

Don’t have a professional video camera and a lighting kit? No worries, neither do I. If you can afford to buy professional equipment, great! But if you can’t (or don’t know how to use it), that’s okay. There’s a lot of substitutes you can use. My incredibly cheap filming setup involves a whiskey bottle – and no, it’s not for drinking.

Broke/Beginner Tier

If you don’t have any filming equipment and can’t afford to buy anything new, or are new to video and aren’t sure if you want to invest in it just yet, this is the equipment you want to use.

Filming

Film: Your phone, computer, or tablet’s camera. I film with my Lenovo Tab 4.

Audio: Your phone, computer, or tablet’s built-in microphone.

Setup: Use what you have around the house. Mine is a folding chair, a stack of index cards to change my tablet’s angle, and a whiskey bottle to prop it up against.

Lighting: Find a place with good natural light (like a sunny room with closed curtains) or do a basic three-point lighting system – I use my basement’s overhead light for a back light, a lamp to the left of my camera for a fill light, and my phone’s flashlight propped against my tablet as a key light.

Editing

If you have an Apple device, iMovie is free and it’s actually a really good video editing program. If you don’t, I recommend ShotCut – it’s not as intuitive as iMovie, but it has a lot of functionality and it’s what I use. (If you have a computer that still has Windows Movie Maker, that will also work.)

Intermediate Tier

If you’re ready to put some investment into video but aren’t ready to go all-out, this is the tier you want to be in.

Filming

Film: Your phone, computer, or tablet’s camera.

Audio: A simple condenser microphone that plugs directly into your filming device, like this one ($20).

Setup: A tripod for your filming device.

Lighting: A simple lighting kit, like this one ($60).

Editing

iMovie or ShotCut – yes, they’re both free, but they’re good enough to use here, too.

Advanced Tier

You’re totally sold on this video thing and are ready to invest money into it to get the best video you can get – this is the equipment you want.

Filming

Film: A high-quality DLSR camera, like this one ($460).

Audio: Professional microphone – I recommend the Blue Encore or Yeti ($130).

Setup: Tripod with fully adjustable head for your DSLR.

Lighting: A professional LED light kit with filters, like this one ($90).

Editing

Adobe Premier Pro ($20/month) – one of the editing software used to edit blockbuster movies. It’s not super intuitive, but if you have time to watch/read tutorials and figure it out yourself, you can do anything on this.

Extremely Advanced Tier

If you’re at the point where you’re ready to sink thousands into your video to get the best product possible, hire a professional film crew for everything. They do this for a living and they’ll give you great results.