Podcasts are all the rage; it seems like every brand has one or is working on one. But podcasts are only one type of content series - or episodic content - gaining popularity these days.
The key is to think through and define your strategy well before you start executing. After all, you don't want to get lost in the shuffle of podcasts, or videos, or other content series available today.
The Power of Episodic Content, a webinar with Paige Bidgood Azevedo, Manager, Original Content, BrightTALK, and Jennifer Reed Marketing Programs, BrightTALK, share some insights into what goes into creating a content series.
The benefits of episodic content
Bidgood Azevedo shared three benefits to doing a content series. First, it helps build credibility for your brand. Done well, it helps recognize you as an expert, or trusted source, on a topic. It also builds familiarity with your brand.
Second, a content series provides consistent engagement with your audience, which also drives re-engagement. And third, it gives you better insights into your buyers and what topics they are interested in.
Does a content series have to cover evergreen content? That is, content that lives forever (or at least a long time) because it's not tied to trends or current events? Bidgood Azevedo said yes and no. While it is good to create content that will stay around longer, she said you need to be careful not to get too "overarching" with your content. Bring in some things that are new and exciting as well to generate interest and excitement.
Building a content series
The webinar provided three things to do to build a good content series. Making sure your brand is recognizable is the first thing. Be consistent with brand colors and pictures is important. But it's also important to create a consistent structure for the series episodes and link episodes together.
Another thing they talked about was having a familiar host. I would add here that it doesn't have to be someone well-known, but it has to be someone who wholeheartedly helps promote the series through their social channels and is interesting to listen to.
Developing a strong narrative is also vital to the success of your content series. A well-developed storyline helps extend the life of the content, they explained, and consistent messaging enables you to get recognized as a thought leader.
The last thing you need to ensure you do is to build anticipation for the series and deliver on the payoff. So, don't just create your series and launch it; let your audience know it's coming, what it's about, and why they should watch. And then deliver on that promise. You can also build anticipation for each episode, either from the last one or through social and email promotions.
Don't forget to measure success
The answer to how you know if your content series is successful will differ based on your specific goals. Bidgood Azevedo talked about measuring engagement and re-engagement with metrics such as the number of episodes consumed, the amount of time spent on each episode, the number of pieces read, social shares, etc.
She also talked about measuring the share of voice or the share of audience to determine if you are becoming the go-to subject matter expert on the topic. These metrics require different types of technology, so make sure you have the right tech stack in place to ensure you can measure properly.
What type of content series should you create?
The webinar didn't talk about the types of content series. BrightTALK is a video platform, so I suspect most of their insights come from their work building their video series and video series for their customers. But there are many types of series that you can create.
Podcasts are the staple content series a brand looks at today because they think it's easy to get up and running. Podcasts can be ongoing or short, even a short length like the Content Inc series from Joe Pulizzi. I recently helped a client create a specific topic series within their new podcast.
If you are thinking about a podcast, the thing to consider is not simply to create a podcast that is a general interview series. There are many of these out there, and while many are good, this type of podcast is becoming used. It's time to think of new approaches.
Here you can also think about Clubhouse and Twitter Spaces as audio channels to help you build audio content series. Just make sure you can get the recordings of those episodes to use on your website and community networks.
My mind immediately goes to Brandwagon, which was video interview series Wistia did a few years ago. But since then, they've done several other video series (they are a video platform company), including this one on how to build your own video series or podcast.
Robert Rose does a monthly video series on modern marketing, and Jay Acunzo narrated an innovative series for Help Scout worth watching called Against the Grain. These are a few examples of the kind of innovative episodic video content you can create.
I'm adding newsletters as a new type of episodic content. To me, newsletters are another great example of regular content that engages and builds community. I sign up for plenty of newsletters, but the ones I think help provide a wealth of topical content are Ann Handley's ANNARCHY, Jay Acunzo's Playing Favorites, and Joe Pulizzi's The Tilt.
Audio and video episodic content are the most talked-about types of content series. Email is gaining traction. But if you flex your creative fingers, you can think of other episodic content or content series you can create in different formats. Written content can work, social media content has possibilities, a combination of any of these formats to create a series works as well.
A content series doesn't have to have a goal of increasing leads or MQLs; in fact, I don't think it should have these as goals at all. It should be about building an audience, and that audience should look like the type of customers you want.
But canceling a series because it didn't bring in the right number of MQLs is a mistake. It takes time to build a loyal, engaged audience and only a portion of that audience is likely to become customers. If you are going to cancel a series, do it because it's not generating the audience you expect or that your focus has changed and your business has changed.
Remember to have a strategy, build a strong plan, measure, and adapt when it makes sense.