Lasting impact: Indian brands should harness power ephemeral stories

Updated: September 20, 2019 4:04:50 PM

WeChat also jumped on the bandwagon recently. Its story feature, Time Capsule, allows users to upload short, time-bound videos that appear on a user’s homepage with additional features such as music, location, emojis, etc.

Indian brand, ephemeral stories, instagram story, FOMO, Facebook, Instagram, Google, YouTube, Skype, industry news, HBO, Dunkin’ Donuts, Snapchat, KPMGEphemeral stories hold great potential particularly for brands looking to maximise their audience reach and boost consumer engagement.

By Saurabh Sharma

When Snapchat was launched way back in 2012, little did we know that the app’s peculiar ‘disappearing’ feature would go on to become the next big thing in digital marketing. In a first, Snapchat allowed users to post short-lived content that disappeared after 24 hours. Catching on with the trend, Facebook, Instagram, Google, YouTube and Skype introduced their own versions of short, user-generated content (called Stories), viewable only for a limited duration. Presently, over 700 million users across Snapchat, Facebook, Facebook Messenger, Instagram and WhatsApp create, share and view billions of such vertical, ephemeral montages every day.

WeChat also jumped on the bandwagon recently. Its story feature, Time Capsule, allows users to upload short, time-bound videos that appear on a user’s homepage with additional features such as music, location, emojis, etc.

What’s in a story?
Ephemeral stories hold great potential particularly for brands looking to maximise their audience reach and boost consumer engagement. Being temporary, stories build up a sense of urgency, driven by FOMO (fear of missing out) and spur an almost immediate response from the user. For instance, when Dunkin’ Donuts promoted its doughnut fries with an interactive poll in its Stories ads on Instagram, more than one in five users who saw the ad voted.

Stories have opened new doors of interaction with audiences to keep them actively engaged, and there are myriad of options available — be it through polls, Q&A sessions, ratings or other features such as geo-location filters or tags, countdown tickers and augmented reality (AR) tools, among others. Brands such as Myntra, Snapdeal and ShopClues are exploring these formats across various platforms, including the popular video app TikTok. Meanwhile, online food delivery platform Swiggy was able to add new users and increase mobile install counts through ads on Instagram Stories.

There’s also much buzz about user-generated content (UGC). By encouraging users to create a brand-related story, you actually let them spread the word on your behalf. Real, relatable user experiences panned out through candid, impromptu stories make an instant connect with other like-minded consumers. Earlier this year, HBO used Snapchat’s AR lens to promote the final season of Game of Thrones. New Yorkers in the vicinity of the famous Flatiron Building were able to snap and share photos/videos using Snapchat’s geo-located AR lens, which perched an ice-dragon atop the city’s iconic building.

Advantage India
As one of the largest and fastest growing markets for digital consumers, India is home to nearly 1.2 billion mobile phone subscribers and over 580 million broadband internet subscribers. By 2030, the number of broadband connections is estimated to grow to a billion, according to a report by KPMG. Furthermore, two of the biggest cohorts, millennials and Gen Z, would be entering or have reached their prime working years over the next decade, rendering more purchasing power to these digital natives.

Advancement in digital technology, especially the impending roll-out of 5G, is likely to transform not only the way media is consumed, but also how businesses operate and appeal to their audiences. Already, Facebook and Google have identified India along with Indonesia and the Philippines as key markets for growth.

All this augurs well for Indian brands, but definitely necessitates a shift from traditional models of engagement. ‘Disappearing stories’ can prove to be a great tool for making a lasting impression.

The author is CEO, ThinkWhyNot Films

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