Marketing Lessons We Can Learn From Serial

4 minute read

Have you seen Serial? If not, we strongly suggest you do. If murder mystery is not your thing, give our Decibel podcast a go.

Serial is a podcast which documents a story, told week by week. In its first series, it followed the story of Adnan Syed, convicted of the murder of his ex-girlfriend Hae Min Lee in 1999. The show follows presenter, Sarah Keonig as she reinvestigates the case. The ex-boyfriend, Adnan, was convicted of the murder on what he and many others believe to be thin erroneous evidence. He is now in prison serving a life sentence. Serial was a huge success and reached over 5 million downloads on iTunes alone.

So what lessons can marketers learn from Serial’s success?

It’s all about the content
The first thing Serial taught us: it is all about the content. Whilst most of us fight for our blog post to be read by a handful of people; Serial managed to captivate people enough to stop what they were doing, for an hour each week. How did they do it? They created compelling content people wanted to consume. They made sure the audience had enough to keep them hooked, but also held enough back to ensure the audience kept coming back for more. What’s more, activating audience discussion requires flexibility on adopting platforms that the audience is comfortable with: for those that couldn’t get enough of the weekly updates, Serial also got involved in discussion on ‘Reddit’ and ‘Twitter’ where the debate continued.

It was a real person telling a real story

It doesn’t matter if you don’t have the story of a drug-taking-potential-teenage-murderer to your advantage. You need to keep it real; find your voice and use it. Serial didn’t claim to be anything other than it was; that level of honesty resonated with the audience. When creating content: be honest. The point is to connect and if people can’t relate to you, they’re unlikely to connect with you.

It’s about finding a voice and using it
Sarah Keonig’s strong, unique and compelling voice didn’t take on an authoritative stance. Voice, in the marketing sense, is about tone and style. Sarah told us what she knew, but also what she didn’t know; this kept it personal. It felt like we were all on the journey together.

Discussion is key
Being able to tell a good story is only half the battle, you need to invite people to discuss your content as well. Serial did this successfully; Sarah didn’t just tell the story from her side, she battled between different thoughts and invited other people to share their perspective as well. Using other people to aid your content provokes discussion especially if they think something different to you.

Serial avoided answering all the questions at any one point, and for good reason too. If you’re planning on producing a series of content and choose to give the audience everything they need in the first instance, they’re unlikely to come back. Serial avoided answering all the questions, which encouraged the audience to have their own discussions – in turn leading to more coverage.

When people read your content they’re looking to think and learn. They don’t want to be spoon fed information; the timeliest content provokes people to debate and think for themselves; the more someone spends time thinking about your content, the more they’re likely to keep coming back.

Posting regularly or to a schedule is something all marketers can learn from Serial. Each week Serial’s listeners eagerly anticipated Thursday’s new instalment – we know this from personal experience!
Serial successfully managed to captivate an audience with regular, consistent updates. Audiences love regularity and predictability – having something to anticipate and look forward to.

You don’t have to feel pressured to create content every day. If you choose to create content every third Tuesday of the month, that’s okay – as long as you’re consistent with it. If your upload schedules are consistent you will build a consistent and loyal audience.

It’s not about which social channel you use, but how you use it
With so many social channels to choose from, marketers often find it hard to see which will be best for their brand or message. The truth is, they all have their merits – the important question is “how are we going to use this channel?”

Serial’s podcast drove everyone to their Twitter account to start chatting about the show. Without the podcast, however, this wouldn’t have happened. Just because you’ve created content in one channel, doesn’t mean you need to limit the opportunities it creates for others.

When thinking about which social channel to use, many people get bogged down with how many people use it and how many potential followers they can garner. Try, instead to think about how you are going to use it for effective engagement. Facebook is great for creating a community focal point, but Pinterest has exciting opportunities for sharing and collaborating with the community in a visual way.

Produce high-quality content
Finally, one thing Serial had was high-quality production values. Not did they have a good story, but their sound design was well produced too. Everything from the pauses they included, the visual aids they left on their website at the end of an episode to the way they edited it altogether, it all added to the value of the production they created. One thing that can be said for Serial is they paid attention to all the fine details – and it showed. When producing blog content, or campaigns, you must have the same level of attention to detail.

This article was syndicated from Business 2 Community: Marketing Lessons We Can Learn From Serial

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