How to Create a Content Series that Keeps Your Readers Hooked
Content creation requires consistent development of interesting content, which can be overwhelming for some content marketers. Coming up with ideas that are unique and executing them in a way that is familiar to your users is a difficult combination of tasks to pull off. Creating a content series (or mini-series) is a strategic way to build reader interest while resolving some of the difficulties in generating consistent new ideas.
Advantages of a Series
A dedicated series of content posts has a natural advantage over the one-by-one strategy that most content marketers incorporate. Content series give users a set of consistent expectations, immediately if the content is announced as being part of a series. It lets users know that each installment in the series will be of a similar caliber in a related topic, and makes it easier for content marketers to gradually build an audience. Interested readers will naturally continue to read the series, while new readers can pick up in the middle and, if interested, return to earlier posts.
Content series also allow content marketers to take an idea and delve deeply into it without alienating readers with an exceptionally long post. By breaking that uber-post down into smaller segments, content marketers are able to make the idea more digestible, and slightly improve their page rank because of the quantity of posts.
Still, many content marketers are unfamiliar with how to create and frame a strong content series. This guide exists to show you how.
Step One: Identify a Major Problem
Before you get too far ahead of yourself, you need to spend time brainstorming to come up with a solid idea. This idea needs to have the potential to be the subject of a series of posts, and also captivating enough to attract an initial audience.
The best way to find this type of idea is to consider a major problem. It could be a problem in the world, a problem in your industry, a problem in your department, or some other type of problem. If you’re looking for inspiration, think back to the last major obstacle you overcame in your career. Why was it an obstacle? What did you do to correct it? Is the source of that obstacle a big enough problem to warrant multiple articles of development?
You can also look for inspiration in existing content. Do some research to see what types of problems have been explored in your competitors’ content marketing strategies. Are any of them insufficiently covered? Can any of them be applied to a different set of circumstances? Once you have a major problem, you can move to the next step.
Step Two: Find a Way to Explore that Problem
This problem shouldn’t be solvable over the course of a single article. It needs to be dissected, examined, broken down, or otherwise explored. In order to support your content series, you are going to be the explorer, and you need to find a way to either split your problem into multiple posts or use your problem to produce multiple posts. There are many ways to do this.
First, you could explore that problem by breaking it down into a series of smaller problems. For example, if the problem is something broad like “there aren’t enough people buying ice cream,” you could break it down into several distinct sections such as the origins of the problem, the current state of the problem, the major factors responsible for continuing to make it a problem, and potential solutions to the problem. Each of these is substantive enough to merit its own article, but they all tie back to the common overarching theme.
Second, you could look at the problem from a series of different perspectives. For example, you could look at the ice cream epidemic from the farmers’ perspectives, the brands’ perspectives, the customers’ perspectives, and the perspective of the greater economy. Explore each angle of the problem until your series reaches some kind of conclusion, or if your problem is big enough, continue finding new ways to look at it.
Finally, you could examine the problem in real-life applications and analyze each situation. We’ll have to depart from our ice cream example and look at something like “Brands don’t care enough about their communities.” You could use each article as an independent case study, looking at brands who are irresponsible in their communities and brands who make an active effort to improve theirs.
Whichever method you choose to explore that problem, it’s time to create your first post.
Step Three: Make the First Post and Start a Discussion
Writing the first post should be relatively easy. You can introduce the series at the beginning, or simply write the article and include something in the footer or the title that brands the series: it’s your choice. No matter what you choose, it’s important to make your first post memorable. It’s the best way to start the snowballing readership effect that content series are frequently able to support.
The best way to do this is to start a discussion surrounding your first post. You can do this by posing a question at the end of your first article, sharing it on social media with a question about your readers’ opinions, or simply by taking a controversial stand in the article and opening it up to comments. Whatever you do, find a way to get your readers deeply involved in your narrative, and start planning for the next post.
Step Four: Ask for Feedback
This can be integrated into your discussion, but it’s vital to ask for feedback as you continue to develop and refine your content series. Ask your readers what they liked and did not like about your first article, and what they would like to see in the next installment. This may require you to make adjustments to your current plan for the series, but it will put you in a much better position to sustain and grow your readership.
As the series continues to move forward, keep the discussions and requests for feedback as an integral part of your process. As your readership grows, you may find new perspectives and desires that weren’t brought up in the beginning of your series. Do whatever it takes to keep your readers happy!
Step Five: Build Suspense
Once you’ve built a reliable readership, including readers who keep up with every post, start building suspense around the series on social media. Announce the title of your next post at least a week in advance, with an excerpt or a summary of what you plan to cover. You can even get a discussion building before you post if you really want your readers to get fired up. Eventually, you’ll build your content series into a cultural fixation that will get your readers excited on a regular basis.
Content series aren’t for every business, but if you’re interested in building an increasingly loyal audience by exploring a complicated problem, it’s worth pursuing. Start out with an idea with a high potential for expansion, and make sure to keep your readers as involved in the creation as possible. The end result is a new, more loyal audience, and if you’re lucky, a lot more social shares.
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