As a society, we’ve developed this incessant need to acquire information. We want to know facts and devour stories, before filing them away in our memory banks. With information so readily available to us, we have become accustomed to Googling online at the drop of a hat questions and queries and having our curiosities satisfied. One thing in all of this that becomes increasingly more attractive to consumers operating in the Google age, is the idea of being drip-fed content. It is perhaps the reason behind the huge success of Netflix. By offering people shows in episode format, where they do not have control over whether to not they find out the conclusions of plot lines, you satisfy that need for suspense which the information age, a lot of the time denies us. Far from being bound to the realms of TV shows, episodic strategy also exists in Marketing and has proved to be something that resonates strongly with the general public. Being led through a ready-made story feels good to those who feel their lives have become overwhelmed with information. There is also the added advantage of suspense which people love and this comes about through episodic content. People and in particular consumers can become much more engaged through episodic content, than via other marketing approaches, because this method of strategy holds consumers attentions incredibly well. Consumers are left in suspense waiting for the next instalment of content that the brand produces.
So how can brands create effective episodic content? How can they create content which keeps users and more importantly consumers, glued to their screens? First of all, episodes should contribute to one running story or meaning. Episodic Content Marketing is all about communicating with consumers via digestible chunks of information based on one ongoing central theme. Define your content so that you can communicate your end message. You need to communicate a well thought out message that requires all pieces to be revealed in order for the over-riding theme to be fully explained.
Timing is everything when it comes to Episodic Marketing. You have to work out when you are going to distribute your content, which should be done in-line with your Social Media and other Marketing plans. Keep your content fresh and keep the instalments coming, but remember what is key is that you leave a significant enough gap between episodes that people actively seek the next instalment.
When it comes to the content itself, make sure your titles are perfect and that content is structured in a way that a clear thread appears linking everything together. Make sure you provide variety, don’t move too far away from your overall theme, but portray it in different ways each time. Consistency is also so important, let your audience grow accustomed to your style. You want your audience to recognise your brands voice and style immediately, but not be able to predict its next move, hence a sense of intrigue starts to build.
To explain further here are two examples of Episodic Marketing:
Coca-Cola’s video series about friendship, shows how episodic marketing can be central to a great campaign. The campaign featured three short films involving teen dramas, such as pregnancy, drugs and the like and in each scenario teenagers could either stick up for their friends or ignore them. What the campaign showed was how useful episodic content can be in promoting a brand’s core values.
MSNBC’s ‘Geography of Global Poverty’ series showed that a real-time element can be as effective for courting consumer interest as drip-fed content, revealed over a more lengthy period of time. Described as a ‘digital documentary’, the series saw photographer Matt Black embark on a trip across the USA to document contemporary issues of poverty and income inequality. The series was a captivating online experience. This example shows how audiences can become even more engaged when they’re able to follow a story as it unfolds in real-time.
The reason why Episodic Marketing works so well, is because as humans we crave the unknown. We love the suspense of becoming involved in dramas and little soap operas. By featuring Episodic Marketing in your next campaign, you are tapping into a part of the human psyche which has long since gone unsatisfied.