Home / Content Creation / Serializing Your Content Like a Soap Opera….Keep Them Coming Back for More!

Serializing Your Content Like a Soap Opera….Keep Them Coming Back for More!

Game of Thrones obviously is an extremely popular cable TV show, but the title or genre alone is not what makes the storyline so popular. There have been plenty of fantasy and science fiction movies and shows that have flopped. So what is it that makes the Thrones show so appealing?

One aspect is very good story-writing, however, the second key element is what is known as serializing the content. This is not a new idea; stringing out a storyline along a number of episodes is an age-old tool to keep bringing audiences back for more. And no TV genre is more famous for it than soap operas. Yes, those lovey-dovey daytime TV series are emblematic of the successful story that never ends.

download (3)

The Key to Success

The key to serializing content, whether it be for a website, comic book or a TV show, is to first write a good, compelling story that can be fragmented, i.e. broken up into sections. This involves multiple layers.

First, there is the over-arching general story line, the one that basically says, “these two characters must face lots of challenges and travel from point A to point B or the world will end.” It’s not that simplistic, but the over-arching layer is the umbrella that guides all the detail added beneath, a bit like the skeleton provides an infrastructure for the body and muscles.

The second layer is the sub-plot, which can actually have multiple sub-plots. These are mini-stories that live underneath the over-arching layer and begin and end in much shorter time spans. However, woven together they provide the richness and diversity of characters for the main theme.

All the Little Things

Then comes all the little details and window pieces that flesh out each episode or chapter within the story framework. This can be quite extensive, includes lots of detail and characters, and essentially makes each moment interesting and flavorful. However, every one of them is there on purpose adding to some small aspect of the overall story; nothing is by accident.

Once this entire lattice is built, it’s time to break it up into segments that cause an audience to come back for the next segment. The timing of where a content break occurs to create episodes and the serializing effect is a skill and comes with experience. It generally must be a point where the audience has enough content to feel satisfied that paying attention was worth the time but missing just enough to want more.

Knowing the Cut Off Point

There is no default cutoff point for every story because each content segment is unique. A content writer has to develop a “feel” for where the right cutoff point is, like a page break in a digital document, and that comes with practice. Once learned, it can be extremely powerful content delivery effect and one that actually causes audience sizes to grow exponentially, as HBO has seen with Game of Thrones.

Finally, there should be a way for new late addition audience members to catch up with everyone else. So, a valuable part of serializing content is to provide past material for easy access. Many content providers forget that audience attraction is fluid and happens over time. Providing past access is a key way to continue to build interest while current members stay up to date.

If you’re looking for a platform to help you, check out our content marketing software.



About Jon wuebben

Jon Wuebben is the CEO of Content Launch, which offers the first content marketing software built for small and medium sized businesses (SMB’s) and digital agencies. Content Launch also provides content writing and content strategy services for hundreds of companies and digital agencies. His book, "Content is Currency: Developing Powerful Content for Web & Mobile", helps businesses learn how to plan, create, distribute and manage content. "Content is Currency" has been published in six countries worldwide.

Jon has spoken at Content Marketing World, Online Marketing Summit, South by Southwest (SXSW), Marketing Profs B2B Forum, Search Marketing Expo (SMX), Social Media Marketing World, New Media Expo, Intelligent Content Conference, Content Marketing Retreat, Lavacon, ADMA (Australia), BIA Kelsey Small Business Forum, the Media Relations Summit and for many organizations, including Hubspot, Intuit, the American Marketing Association and Shop.org as well as industry groups in the areas of content marketing, mobile marketing and entrepreneurship. He has been listed as a thought leader in the content marketing space by countless publications since 2008.

Find out more at contentlaunch.com

Join 10K Marketers

Subscribe to the blog and get our 3 most popular content marketing ebooks for Free!