“What Does the Fox Say” was stuck in everyone’s head by the end of 2013, reaching heights that most businesses can only hope to find. But what separates the costume clad geniuses behind this viral hit from the savvy brands finding footing on YouTube is sustainability. Going viral is a combination of luck and skill, but building a web presence online with a captivating series is an endeavor that will pay for itself in spades. Here’s how to turn your knowledge into a viewership, and your brand into a staple.
Find your niche
Think about any TV series you’ve ever watched. Whether it was Bill Nye or Cake Boss, your entertainment was satisfied by a consistent, enjoyable, and informative premise. This is, as you may have imagined, no accident. A captivating web series is built foremost on a strong premise. DIY, “let’s play” videos, and even entertainment series have all arisen from the Democracy of the Internet as ambitious directors and actors found a plot or project that stuck in viewers minds.
What really fueled the success of their premise, however, was not the idea itself, but the fact that the idea played to their strengths. As a business that deals in interesting industry endeavors every day, your premise should be built on your knowledge and expertise. There’s nothing wrong with getting creative; Red Bull has sponsored Ken Block’s tire-melting tirades on numerous occasions, even though they only make energy drinks. But building a concept around your specialized knowledge is a guaranteed way to turn your intellectual capital into unique content.
Test your idea
Now that you have an idea, it’s time to ask the hard questions; questions that determine whether your idea has a place in the lives of busy consumers. Marketing authority Business 2 Community suggests the following queries to help you determine whether you have a blockbuster or a dud:
- Do you have a relatable story to tell?
- How does this content fit into your marketing?
- Who would enjoy your premise?
- Can you keep a consistent release schedule?
- How does this series help your business objectives?
Granted, after story-boarding your first episode, attempting to poke holes in your new project is no one’s idea of fun, but for the sake of commercial viability, digging down to the heart of your content is just as important as the lighting and cameras.
Maintain a schedule
Releasing content on a schedule isn’t just important, it’s necessary to build your notoriety on YouTube and other search engines. Each video you release on time updates the search algorithm used to serve your video to the masses and increases your visibility as a result. Furthermore, viewers hungry for more captivating content will gladly go elsewhere if your table isn’t set in a timely manner.
For this reason, setting a schedule should be one of your top priorities. Beyond the productivity platitudes of schedules keeping you on track, a content calendar will help keep you accountable as your series is getting off the ground. Again, it may not be the most fun aspect of publishing your video, but it’s a necessary step to get noticed.
Your audience is out there somewhere. Conventional wisdom suggests that brand new content takes time and proper SEO to get discovered. Where you beat the newbies, however, is in your knowledge of your target audience; a tool that will help get eyes on the prize if used correctly.
Make your presence known in the social sphere and distribute your content effectively to make a name for your series. If your users are on Facebook, publish posts about new episodes. If you have a strong e-mail subscription pool, shoot loyal customers an update about your exciting new content. Bring viewers to you with appropriate distribution and the improved brand reputation will make it worth the effort.
Engage your audience
There was a time when the closest audience members got to communicating with content creators was an occasional joke during a televised political debate. Now, comments sections and linked social networking profiles have turned video series into conversations with viewers.
The benefits of this back-and-forth are profound to boot. To begin with, viewers that feel listened to are more likely to come back, developing a sense of investment in the series. Second, creating new topics and appeasing your audience is much easier when they’re directly sending you ideas. Finally, the whole process adds a human face to your business that makes your story and your service feel more empathetic.
Take time out of each day to answer comments on your series through all available channels. Social networking, messages, and comments on YouTube videos all offer opportunities to grow your brand through engagement, so use them! 10 minutes a day can mean the difference between a flop and a viral success.
Adapt and grow
Over time, your production capacity, manpower, and ability will grow, so invest these newfound assets back into your series to make it even more special. If your efforts show positive ROI, upgrade your camera or sound equipment for better production values. Add on additional feature segments that cover niche topics or engage users in special ways. However you can, make sure that your series grows with your business, and your audience is sure to follow.
Creating a captivating web series isn’t easy, but with a little know-how, it’s an attainable feat for any company. Find your wheelhouse and vet your idea for viability, then commit to your efforts through effective distribution and audience engagement. Chances are, you’ll even have fun in the process, and little beats making money while having fun.