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Have you ever wondered why we are so addicted to watching TV series? What makes certain series so addictive and how can we leverage this information to create addictive content for our brands?

A Time magazine article highlighted some reasons for this TV series addiction and in this blog, we will attempt to translate this information into useful and relevant points for content marketers:

1. Rapid-fire scenes

One of the strategies that top TV shows use to keep us glued to our screens, is to quickly jump from one scene or character to the next. This keeps you engaged and holds your attention (and your breath!). It makes you feel that if you look away for a second, you will miss something important.

Content marketing translation: When creating content, especially digital content, it is important to write concisely by being efficient with words. The digital reader needs you to get to the point fast and efficiently. Readers who are searching for information online tend to have less time and are more likely looking for specific information.

Ensure that you make short, strong and clear points. Use short sentences and simple words that will encourage quick comprehension and make sure the content layout is simple to enhance ease of read, i.e. short paragraphs, clear headings, bulleted points and bolded key words.

2. Controlling reader attention

With a good director, every TV scene is intentional and planned out. The director focuses your attention on exactly where he wants you to look by zooming in on a person or a specific detail.

Content marketing translation: By having a clear plan for your overall content and for each specific story, you will be able to stay focused and avoid the temptation to veer off course. By carefully planning each piece of content and its role in the brand’s over-arching content marketing strategy, you will be able to present an engaging story to your reader.

3. The cliffhanger

Have you noticed how some of your favourite TV series, especially in the crime or drama genre, almost always ends on a cliffhanger? This is television gold as it makes you wish you can watch the next programme straight away; hence the development of binge-watching!  The cliffhanger makes you want to come back for more and before you know it, you’re hooked!

Content marketing translation: While it’s much harder to create the same nerve-wracking cliffhangers in written branded content, this is one area where video content can be used with great success. By creating a series of video clips that each ends on a cliffhanger, it will leave the consumer curious and interested to see the next clip. With written content, brands can hook readers by using episodic content where one piece directly follows the previous one and only reach a final conclusion in the last article. Here, planning and style of writing are two crucial elements that the brand will need to execute successfully to achieve the cliffhanger effect.

4. Morality

The last two points of this article referred to sex and violence which we don’t really want to portray in branded content but when considering these two points more broadly, there is value in the dichotomy between right and wrong, good and evil.

Content marketing translation: People like to support movements and brands that are geared towards the common good. Most people have an inherent need to help others and to do good deeds. Similarly, brands that do good and help people rise above their circumstances will always be favoured over brands who do not seem to care. Consumers want to know more about their brands purpose and how they do business.

Just remember that the same rules apply to your (public relations oriented) content: it must still be concise, engaging and useful. Why are you doing it, what have you achieved, how can a reader help or get involved? Answer these questions in order to ensure relevant and useful information.


Author: Lize Sadie

Resource: Time magazine’s article “5 Reasons Why TV’s Top Shows Are So Addictive” – 17 January 2014