Here today, gone tomorrow… that’s ephemeral content. It’s easy to discount ephemeral content as a marketing tool: Cynics argue that it isn’t around long enough to deliver a positive marketing ROI. But ephemeral content, especially Instagram Stories, is proving itself as an effective marketing channel, and pharma marketers are starting to take note.
Healthline’s Director of Social Strategy and Influencer Marketing, Katelyn Klenowski, shares the six reasons why she thinks ephemeral content is the most actionable way to genuinely connect with audiences.
1. Stories get attention.
At its core, ephemeral content capitalizes on our fear of missing out (FOMO). Because we know that a story is fleeting, appearing and then disappearing 24 hours later, we feel an urgency to view it now or lose it forever. So we consume it now, driving up views and impact. Instagram Stories currently has about 500 million daily users and has increased the time spent on Instagram from 15 to 32 minutes a day.
2. Stories build intimacy.
Ephemeral content was conceived for people to share special moments with an exclusive audience. This content is therefore, by design, meant to be unedited, raw, and immediate. As such, it gives pharma marketers the ability to show users their brand’s real unfiltered personality. Because stories don’t endure, they can be used to tackle topics which may be off-limits in more conventional brand marketing, but are exactly what consumers want to learn about. Like what it’s really like for someone with IBD to live with a colostomy bag, or how to deal with frequent yeast infections if you are living with RA. When done right, stories can help brands engage with users in the moment, inspiring trust and creating an ‘inner circle’ bond.
3. Stories bring health to life.
Health influencers have been using ephemeral content to show a raw and unedited presence on social media. Their authentic delivery resonates with followers who appreciate an approach that shows the realities of living with a condition and makes them feel less alone.
While health influencers are unlikely to endorse pharma brands, they will talk, from the heart, about their quality of life while living with a condition. This may be about the difficulties they face, the challenges with treatment, the joys of relief, or even everyday hopefulness and gratitude. Partnering with influencers is a great way to bring attention to the condition you treat or the specific challenges your treatment addresses.
4. Stories drive interest.
In research conducted by Facebook, 39% of Instagram users reported becoming more interested in a brand or product after seeing it in Instagram Stories. While pharma brands can be integrated within an Instagram Story directly, it’s more realistic for pharma to benefit after the view, via the “swipe up” functionality linking to brand content, sponsored content, or third-party content.
After reviewing all Instagram Stories on Healthline’s platforms, we found that not surprisingly, general health and wellness stories get wider reach than condition stories (a little over 2x the reach), but condition stories incite a stronger (2.5x) action-based response (swipe up, click on a tag, or respond to a poll).
5. Stories produce quick metrics.
Because ephemeral content produces immediate results, you can use it to get rapid responses on new messaging or creative from a loyal user base, and also to test your way to optimal story campaign engagement. Some common metrics from the Instagram Stories platform that can give you insight into what’s working and what’s not include:
- interest data like forward, back, next story, exit, and completion
- engagement data like swipe ups, responses, and direct messages
6. Stories launch direct one-to-one consumer connections.
When someone “slides into your DM” it means they sent you a direct message as a result of your story. Instagram Stories from businesses result in a direct message 20% of the time. This is perhaps because people don’t want to publicly associate with a health issue or condition, but are looking for a direct channel for private engagement. Direct connections with consumers are unarguably valuable for pharma brands, but they are difficult to manage. Look to partners like Healthline who have fully staffed teams to manage these communications on your behalf while following your messaging and regulatory playbooks.
Best practices to make your story stand out
If you’re producing stories on behalf of your brand, either through your agency or with a partner, here are some best practices we’ve learned from our 45-60 Instagram Stories each month, to make sure your story stands out.
- Pick a topic that makes the best use of the Stories format. For pharma brands, this can be first-person influencer accounts of the condition, behind-the-scenes of a brand team, or creating buzz around a PR or promotional event.
- To keep the interest of your viewers, be concise. Stories should be no more than 12-14 slides, or :15 per slide.
- Use this time to bring forward either new and relevant facts, or the most real, raw, and from-the-heart content. It’s the “real” and “relevant” that users connect to, and what brings them back.
- Make it easy for your viewers to get the most of your content. Include subtitles or a “sound on” gif if there is speech. If you use type, make sure it’s easy to read. You may want to give it a color background to be more visible.
- Engage your audience beyond the view. Build in meaningful calls to action, like links to approved content, polls, or offers. Provide bold graphics like boxes and arrows to compel the viewer to continue the experience.
Health influencers want to share intimate moments of their day, as it relates to their condition. One influencer said, “I want people to know what’s ‘glam’ and what’s ‘daily,’ and what working full time from home really means with a chronic illness — taking meetings from bed, the hospital.” Ephemeral content gives her the opportunity to give people a behind-the-scenes glimpse of living with a condition.
For health marketers, ephemeral content provides a real-time access point for gaining insights and building sustainable, engaged relationships with patients. Brands that are interested in doing this can leverage publishers to build bridges with communities and social influencers, increase reach, and genuinely connect with audiences.
Ready to explore social influencer strategies and learn how to tap into the power of their platform to drive health actions? Download our “2019 Social Influencer Trend Report.”