Trends Go Social part 3: Playsumers and ephemeral marketing

Social Thinking
In the third of our four-part series with Trendwatching, we explore Playsumers and Ephemeral Marketing. This post was originally published on Trendwatching, and they’ve been kind enough to let us reproduce it here.Screen-Shot-2016-10-20-at-13.32.06

Who said business had to be boring? Fun, surprise and humour are fundamental human needs, spanning all cultures and countries. Entertaining or unexpected products, services and campaigns that make life more enjoyable allow brands to capture consumers’ scarcest resource – their attention.

Play and sociability go hand-in-hand. And now, thanks to the familiarity and acceptance of near-instant, digitally-enabled encounters (dating and beyond), connection can happen just as easily online as in the ‘real’ world.

Combine this with terror threats, public health emergencies, political conflict, climate change and rising income inequality (to name but a few of the challenges impacting consumers’ daily lives), and it becomes clear that brands that offer some respite from reality – no matter how brief – will be welcomed.

The We Are Social perspective
Few platforms get sillier than, a lip syncing app that has taken pre-teens by storm. is a great way for people to share the music they love and do it in their own style. It’s become a great platform for young people to express their creativity. The combination of music and self expression makes it instantly shareable, too.

The fact the platform has a single use means users can be a bit more comfortable with acting up, which they might not do on Snapchat or Instagram. We’ve all sung along to tracks in our bedrooms – haven’t we?! – and this app celebrates that.

The way works means it’s always full of the latest tracks and what’s popular, acting as a barometer of what’s on trend. It’s a platform which can really enhance the relationship between the fans and the artist. Celebrities including Ariana Grande, Megan Trainer and Kylie Jenner already use the platform to raise their profile and connect with fans. has huge potential for entertainment brands and celebrities. Brands may struggle to take it seriously at this stage, but until very recently Snapchat was dismissed as a kiddie platform, and now it’s a major player.Screen-Shot-2016-10-20-at-13.32.18
What does ephemeral this mean? Ceaseless connectivity has fractured consumers’ relationship with time and irrevocably altered attention spans (which have, on average, fallen to 8 seconds, down from 12 in the year 2000, Microsoft, Jan 2016). While consumers will seek to speed through some experiences, and slow down to savour others, one constant objective remains: to extract maximum value from every moment.

Fleeting content and real-time streaming (think Snapchat and Periscope) allow consumers to weave the real and the digital worlds together whilst experimenting with endless new forms of expression. And primed by the on-demand, ephemeral nature of these platforms, consumers seek bite-size interactions – across all industries – better suited to their busy lifestyles.

The We Are Social perspective
The battle for ephemeral marketing is definitely on. Facebook Live vs Periscope for live streaming, and Facebook and Instagram v Snapchat on everything else. Facebook and Instagram have been locked in a pitched battle with Snapchat for months with repeated attempts to copy features and ensure users don’t abandon the more established platforms. Facebook initially ran a trial of ‘quick updates’ which would expire after 24 hours but abandoned the attempt a few months later.
instagram-ceo-kevin-systrom-1024x582A couple of weeks on, Instagram launched Stories for ‘imperfect sharing’ of images that expire after 24 hours. Instagram CEO Kevin Systrom openly admitted they’d completely copied it from Snapchat, telling Techcrunch: “This isn’t about who invented something. This is about a format, and how you take it to a network and put your own spin on it.”

The jury is out on which platform will prove most successful with brands. Nike claims it generated 800,000 views in 24 hours for an Instagram Story, compared to just 66,000 views on Snapchat for its ‘best’ story. But other brands like Burberry are sticking to the original platform. The luxury fashion brand stubbornly stood by Snapchat for its recent MyBurberry campaign, using Instagram just to signpost to the other platform.

To read the rest of the Trendwatching blog series check out our Thought Leadership page.