“Ephemeral” is defined as lasting a very short time or lasting one day. High school students preparing for college entrance exams often learn about it. The word tends to stick in memories beyond then, but people rarely use it conversationally.
Instagram Stories and Snapchat provide new opportunities for those of us who remember to use “ephemeral”. The word perfectly describes apps that present content that sticks around to for just a day or so, and then vanishes.
It’s understandable that we tend to post some personal content ephemerally. Examples include sharing something relevant at 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 sensible approaches.
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, you only need to promote it in advance. There’s no need to keep it in the permanent feed. The informal styling and spontaneous short notice are also appropriate for inviting fans to deepen engagement with the content they’re planning to check out that evening anyhow, in this case, a new Handmaid’s Tale 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 reveals of Instagram Stories is powerful, 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. 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. It’s understandable to want pics of margaritas at the office on a Wednesday afternoon to disappear eventually.
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 campier 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. They utilize 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 highlight what’s relevant that particular day. They authentically reveal glimpses into a culture, and diversify promotion by using a different voice than normal branding.