By now, you should be convinced (we hope!) that video is the most personal and engaging creative medium that exists today. The format allows us to make more human connections and at a faster pace than ever before. Just think about all the media you consume on a day-to-day basis. You could sign into Netflix while you’re at the gym and check out that one comedy special you’ve been meaning to watch while you break a sweat, or pull up IGTV while you’re on the train and see what your favorite influencers are up to.
Social media platforms like Facebook and YouTube, as well as streaming services like Netflix and Amazon, are clearly capitalizing on the opportunity that entertaining, long-form video provides — that’s the business they’re in, after all. But what you might find more surprising is that many other types of companies are also taking advantage of creating binge-worthy content.
Instead of solely focusing on the products and services they offer, more and more companies are creating memorable experiences for viewers by investing in documentaries, video series, and more, all with the goal of building an audience. Now, this might sound a little daunting if you don’t have, say, a Lego Movie-sized budget (they worked with a cool $80 million), but the good news is, you don’t need one!
Here, we’ll take a deeper look at what this type of content is all about, why businesses should consider making more of it, and how to get started without breaking the bank.
Many businesses have realized that creating content that speaks to the interests and challenges of niche audiences can lead to some pretty impressive results for their brands. Specifically, binge-worthy content is all about providing enough value that viewers can’t help but want to consume more of it.
Most videos that are being created today to support marketing efforts online are super-short, attention-grabbing, and often optimized for engagement on social media. It becomes challenging, however, to tell stories and share perspectives in a way that makes people know and love your brand when you’re working with a 15-second clip. Long-form video, which has been around since the dawn of television, is the logical format for modern-day storytelling and entertainment.
“It becomes challenging, however, to tell stories and share perspectives in a way that makes people know and love your brand when you’re working with a 15-second clip.”
Less “about” a company and more “by” a company, creating binge-worthy content is a great way to surprise and delight an audience in ways they would have never imagined. Take, for example, this series by HP about printer security. Yes, that’s right, printer security. HP has released three long-form videos (or short films) over the past few years that highlight the dangers companies face when their printer security is sub-par.
Fully-quipped with villains and heroes — as well as a few Hollywood stars — HP relies on their fantastic storytelling prowess to get people to engage with their brand. Don’t believe us? Just check out some of the comments on this video:
In a world where forcing viewers to interact with your ads over and over again is ineffective (and annoying), businesses are turning to the creation of this type of content to reach their audience in a new way — one that helps build their brands.
Your audience extends beyond current users of your product, social media followers, and even your coveted email list. Word-of-mouth referrals still remain the most convincing form of advertising for most people, so creating amazing binge-worthy content is a great way to nourish a group of vocal advocates outside of your main customer base.
Studies have shown that 92% of people say they’re more likely to buy a product if they hear about it through a recommendation from a friend or family member, so creating valuable, binge-worthy content that viewers are excited to talk about can help get that flywheel going.
At the end of the day, your brand’s reputation is about far more than just what you do or how you do it. Your reason for existing — your company ethos — is a much better focus for this type of content, as it’s more likely to resonate with audiences on an emotional level and help them build positive associations with you. Unlike product videos or press releases, a video series allows brands to “live” their mission.
Patagonia, for example, is widely known for their outdoor gear. However, they also consistently produce high-quality entertainment that moves their audience in deeply emotional ways.
Their on-going documentary series highlights the beauty of the earth through world-class production and breathtaking cinematography. The pieces show that Patagonia is committed to their goal of “saving the planet” by raising awareness of threatened spaces around the globe. “Takayna,” one of the more successful pieces in the series, has garnered over 130,000 views on YouTube online since its release.
Now, we know what you’re thinking, “Sure, companies like HP and Patagonia might be able to invest in creating this type of content, but there’s no way I’d get approval for this!” Before you start hunting down some extra cash in your marketing budget, remember that when it comes to telling compelling stories with long-form videos, coming up with a great show idea is more important production value.
“Remember that when it comes to telling compelling stories with long-form videos, coming up with a great show idea is more important than production value.”
For example, if your brand’s mission is to make healthcare more accessible, you could create a documentary about people navigating the complexities of existing systems to better highlight the plight of your customers. For this type of content, you may only need minimal video production equipment to get going with your story. What matters most is understanding your audience, what makes them tick, and what inspires or motivates them, and then creating content that speaks to them directly.
Start by asking “Why?" — identify your company’s core values if you haven’t already done so. What drives your team to go to work each day? Why should people care that you exist? Why would the world be a different place without you? Then, clearly define your audience and their values. What kinds of issues get them excited? What moves them? What kinds of things do they talk about? And where?
Once you’ve got a good sense for what matters most to you and your customers, you can seek areas of overlap and alignment. Identify the goals that you share and give them a reason to come to you to learn about it. When it comes to landing on the ideal topic, start by asking yourself some of the following questions:
- What are you uniquely positioned to speak about?
- How can you truly provide value to your audience in an entertaining way?
- Does the topic have enough depth that it can be covered in several episodes?
- Are we saying something that hasn’t already been said before?
Remember, audiences are more aware than ever of disingenuous or manipulative content, so it’s crucial to consider whether your entertainment will feel like an organic offshoot of your brand or whether it will feel like an opportunistic over-extension. Stay true to your brand and don’t try to pull one over on your viewers.
As brands continue to act more like media companies, consumers will continue to benefit from a wide range of engaging content that they’re more likely to share with their friends and families.
By focusing on ways to better live their mission and create memorable experiences, businesses can launch unique campaigns geared toward driving growing awareness and resonance with audience members, both new and old. Now, start putting pen to paper (or keys to computer) and draft the pilot episode of your first video series!