With the rise of online streaming services like Netflix and HBO Go (as well as faster internet access, enhanced video quality, and an appetite for more meaningful content), long-form content may be more popular than ever—and it’s increasingly making its way to social. Since 45 percent of people watch more than an hour of videos on Facebook or YouTube each week, those platforms (and others) have developed their own spaces to house narrative, television-style content—think Facebook Watch, YouTube Originals, and IGTV.
Streaming services have not only re-popularized long-form content, but they have also brought serialized, or episodic, content into the limelight. Like its name suggests, episodic content is comprised of episodes, allowing creators and brands to tell more narrative stories that build on each other or tie into a common theme. These videos are meant to entertain, not sell. The best episodic content is not tied to a specific time period and has a much longer lifespan than other social campaigns. This way, it’s more likely to be shared, gain organic exposure, and continue to have a true impact for a long time.
So how do you create episodic content that resonates? Here’s our breakdown of everything to consider before you embark on your episodic journey.
1. The Audience
Whether it’s busy moms, twenty-somethings who love to travel, aspiring entrepreneurs, or any demographic in between, know who you want to consume this content. This means understanding what those groups are interested in, what they value, and what will inspire them to take action. And no matter who your audience is, authenticity is key. People will always come back for more if you tell stories they want to hear.
2. The “Why”
One of the most dangerous things a brand can do is consider its own “why” before a consumer’s “why.” Don’t ask yourself why you care. Ask yourself why your audience would care. If you can’t articulate why they should stop and pay attention to your video, what the added value is to them, or why this subject/issue matters, go back to the drawing board.
3. The Theme
While each episode should be able to live on its own, it’s essential to have an overarching theme or through line that connects all the elements of the story you’re trying to tell. (How weird would your favorite show be if none of the episodes connected?) The theme can be anything, but a good rule of thumb is to make sure you can summarize it in 15 words or fewer. An example from our CEO Carrie Kerpen’s series called Work It: “Bold women in leadership who candidly share what it took for them to get there.”
4. The Subjects
If you’re featuring “real people” (not actors) in your episodic series, you’ll need to establish which key figures can best advance this story once you’ve figured out your theme or through line. These should be figures with “skin in the game”—people who have a vested interest in the subject matter that you’re tackling. They should also be relatable to your audience. So, if your audience is busy moms, make sure to feature real moms who have had the same experiences and struggles as the moms in the audience you’re speaking to. Empathy is the strongest emotion you can tap into, and ultimately, that emotional connection is what’s going to make viewers want to continue coming back.
So, before starting on your video series, make sure that those four considerations are fully fleshed out. It’s also important to remember that just as your overarching storyline develops over time, so too does the brand loyalty from your viewers. These types of videos are meant to build a long-term relationship between your brand and its consumers—from what we’ve seen, it’ll be worth the wait.
Want to tell your company’s story with Branded Social Programming? Give us a ring.