Rise of ephemeral content – read this before it’s gone

There is a recent trend in the rise of apps that let you share content for a short period of time. They are either live streaming apps or those those that self-destruct your content after sometime. They are all very mobile centric and encourage the culture of snap and share instantly without editing or giving it a lot of thought – Just casual content!

The app ‘Meerkat‘ started as a big player in the video live streaming space using twitter as a means of distribution. Once you choose to broadcast, a link will be shared with your twitter followers that they can click to view your video/audio in real-time. Once the broadcast ends, they will no longer be able to view it. It is ephemeral.

Twitter then realized the size of this market and purchased the company behind Periscope, the current leader in live streaming apps. Periscope is identical to Meerkat – although it has its differences. Unlike Meerkat, it lets viewers interact with the broadcasters in real-time using messages and hearts. Periscope’s tagline is “Explore the world through someone else’s eyes“. It is a great idea. It allows users to live-stream anything from birthday parties to concerts with the touch of a button. Periscope also lets users limit who can see their content.

Since Periscope is owned by Twitter, it got a leg-up due to deeper integration with twitter. It recently reported that it has 10 million registered users watching 40 years of video everyday. That is astounding user engagement statistics!

Why is this the case? This is because people are sharing more content than ever before. They are sharing more about their personal lives with people they have never met. They are more comfortable doing so in a world where their content is ephemeral (or at least not intentionally permanent). There are always cases where you can take screenshots or video of a video playing on your phone but there is more effort required hence reducing the chances of that happening.

techcontour.com

Snapchat is another such app. It lets you send/share photos to your followers that self-destructs within seconds after the the picture is clicked for viewing. When it first came into the limelight, it was known as a sexting app used by teenagers.techcontour.com Today with more than 200 million active users, the perception is different. It is seen as the way the next generation shares content – more content than ever before, short lived and larger distribution. Advertisers view it as a great way to target the next generation. Snapchat recently introduced a new feature called ‘Discover’ which lets news outlets, magazines and content providers create short 5-10 second news stories/content that are pushed to users. These outlets are using snapchat to fight for a piece of the short attention span of this generation. Celebrities are also using snapchat as a way to connect with their younger fans .Recently snapchat was valued at $10 billion and it is rumored to be seeking a $19 billion valuation in the next round of funding. Those numbers are huge! 

In essence, the future of casual content is ephemeral and ironically the trend is here to stay 🙂

Swathi Jay

Tech Blogger, Georgia Tech Engineer, Microsoft Program Manager

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