What is episodic content?
Episodic content marketing involves creating content as a defined series, which is considered, created and produced in a single production window, then delivered over a planned timeline.
We often see marketers using social media platforms the same way as other advertising channels, but merely trying to shout the same message louder than all your competitors won’t cut it.
Brands must work harder to engage their audience. Almost 43% of internet users use tools to block ads and one of the top reasons is that too many ads are annoying or irrelevant. So, it’s time to rethink digital activity to focus on content that’s genuinely educational and entertaining.
Imagine that Netflix invited you to create an original series for your industry. How would you think about it? What would your goal be? What journey would you want to take your audience on? An episodic approach applies this level of thought to your own branded content.
The benefits of episodic content for brands
People love to binge on quality entertainment that they’re familiar with and know is valuable to them. That’s why shows like Game of Thrones or Line of Duty are so popular. In the world of food and drink, think about those avid viewers of MasterChef and The Great British Bake Off. Even digitally, look at channels like Eater, Serious Eats, or Minimalist Baker. In fact, much of YouTube’s growth has been driven by this kind of regularly scheduled content for a highly engaged niche audience.
Entertainment will mean different things for different businesses, but the core idea is the same: your customer is a person who wants to learn, understand and see that you’re excited about that subject too.
While businesses scramble to create as much content as possible, it’s all too easy to forget that consumers are human beings who make decisions based on emotional connections, storytelling and engagement.
Where we may have had limited options of linear content opportunities in the past, we are now open to lots of different pockets across almost infinite topics and interests. Without geographic boundaries, these communities are built on a true desire and passion for their subjects. And they’re all acting as brand advocates, sharing and engaging with content that’s interesting to them.
Episodic content is a powerful way to connect with your audience frequently to build a lasting relationship over time. This keeps viewers engaged and interacting with your brand because you’re talking to them regularly on an appropriate platform with content that feels relevant and authentic to them.
A series of content allows your brand to link a narrative concept with a range of variable factors to create branches of engagement across your digital owned channels. Think about the weeks on The Great British Bake Off: each week is a new journey into a unique landscape within baking. We, as viewers, learn more about the product and contestants in a familiar space, while getting a new and interesting experience that will captivate attention, stimulate conversation and polarise opinion.
By creating episodic content, you’re setting your brand up as a thought leader in specific sectors with serialised content that speaks directly to those personas. This content is not about awareness days or sporadic themes, it is storytelling crafted to align with your consumers on a deeper level and delivered in a way that compels them to discover more and keep coming back time after time. And best of all, you can evaluate these findings and evolve without being too locked into an approach.
How brand marketers can take advantage of this opportunity
Because production is a significant investment (in budget and time), planning is critical.
Start with the basics and determine what you want to achieve with your series by considering its purpose and any neighbouring narrative options to explore. Build a detailed understanding of your viewer and focus on the relevant segments of your audience – their interests, expectations, needs, desires, etc. This will all help influence the flow of the episodes and trailing arc during the series.
With this insight throughout your annual content strategy, you’ll be able to identify the opportunities for your relevance. Then we can define the series and shoot multiple episodes in a singular production window. Only by leveraging this model of production efficiency can brands effectively capture episodic content at scale, while maintaining the quality the viewer expects.
The hidden benefit of episodic content is the ability to take this narrative and turn it into more forms of content (video, images, audio, written) as part of a single campaign.
So, that one episode suddenly becomes 20 pieces of content (or more). This was first popularised in Gary Vaynerchuk’s Content Model and provides an excellent methodology to create multiple forms of omni-channel content from one pillar production pipeline.
By approaching this content as ‘evergreen’ and ‘always on’, there are more points for evaluation and iterative refinement across a shorter window of exposure. Rather than exploring new domains with a traditional creative campaign, consider developing existing content or reworking regular legacy content to develop a footing within the platform, then scale this up in seasonal windows.