“Ephemeral” is defined as lasting a very short time or lasting one day. It’s often learned by high school students preparing for college entrance exams. There’s something about the word that tends to stick in memories beyond then, but it’s rarely used conversationally.
Instagram Stories and Snapchat provide new opportunities for those of us who remember to use “ephemeral”. The word perfectly describes apps presenting content that sticks around to be seen for just a day or so, and then vanishes.
It’s understandable that we’re inclined to post some personal content ephemerally. Examples include sharing something relevant in the moment about a current event, or to spur real-time conversation with friends without consequences of contents sticking around forever, or to regularly provide current perspectives on something in particular, like how the hairdo’s looking, without retaining the historical versions.
But what about companies and organizations? What professional use do they have for ephemeral Instagram Stories? Don’t they always want their content to stick around forever in order to maximize exposure and effectiveness?
We were wondering about this the other evening, so we clicked around a bunch of corporate Instagram accounts to see what they might be doing with IG Stories. Well, not that much — the majority just had conventional Instagram posts. But the companies that were using Instagram Stories this past Wednesday night revealed several approaches that make good sense.
Here’s eClincher’s best-of corporate Instagram Stories for April 25, 2018:
This simple post makes a lot of sense to share via Instagram Stories. If there’s a live event coming up, it only needs to be promoted in advance and there’s no need to keep it in the permanent feed. The informal styling and spontaneous short notice is also appropriate for inviting fans to deepen engagement with content they’re planning to check out that evening anyhow, in this case a new Handmaid’s Tail episode, by participating simultaneously in chat about that episode on Twitter.
Workout Of The Day is a core aspect of Crossfit, so highlighting the currently promoted exercise program for just 24 hours is natural.
3. Taco Bell
This takes advantage of Instagram Stories having a full screen form factor, since the square of normal Instagram posts would not share the same dimensions as phone wallpaper. The carousel reveal of Instagram Stories is also well employed, with an initial image that provides instructions and a preview of the proposed wallpaper before the actual wallpaper image slides in next.
Quite a few of the companies we found doing Instagram Stories were posting candid photos and videos of employee life. The motivation is to provide a cultural glimpse that supports recruiting efforts, and regularly cycling these aspires to make the perspective feel fresh, but the contents tend to look forced and not really enjoyable. This pre-Cinqo-de-Mayo party is an exception. In fact since it’s almost two weeks pre-C-de-M, Sunbasket comes across as an enjoyable place to work. Also kudos on the clever use of Sombrero vs. Pinata polling. And it’s understandable to want pics of margaritas being served at the office on a Wednesday afternoon to disappear before long.
Another advantage Instagram Stories provides is an opportunity for companies to diversify their social media voices. Lululemon is a brand that emphasizes stylish aesthetics and yogic serenity. The company’s main Instagram feed is full of aspirational, magazine-quality photography. On Wednesday the social media team took over the company’s Instagram Stories to announce its new online What We Love store in a less formal and more campy tone than the company’s usual brand voice. The sequencing of Instagram Stories is employed to create a sort of multimedia movie that cycles through selfie video, a crude but cute “Breaking News” animated gif, an illustrative image build, and then a couple calls to action, one a Boomerang-style animation of the narrator and then a text-only one in the fun and stylish captioning format used throughout. It’s an endearing appeal to the Lululemon audience, utilizing different styling, without disrupting the flow of the company’s primary Instagram feed.
So, the ephemeral nature of Instagram Stories has its place for the right kind of use by companies. Stories can be used to highlight what’s relevant that particular day, to authentically reveal glimpses into culture, and to diversify promotion by using a different voice than normal branding.