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Know Your Audience Before You Make Content for Them—Here’s How

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To create compelling content for your brand, you need to know your audience. But what does “knowing your audience” really mean? Which audience? And how much do you need to know about them? As the president of Bleacher Report, Rory Brown, told Digiday, “You can reach so many more people [in this era], but the definition of audience is murkier than ever.”

And when it comes to endeavors like creating branded shows, a podcast, or even an ad campaign, your potential audience suddenly expands beyond those who are just interested in learning more about your product or service. This is great news, but it also brings us back to that tricky question — how do you know who you should actually be making content for in the first place?

“How do you know who you should actually be making content for in the first place?”

Determining your audience is a key part of the creative process that should happen before you even pick up a camera or jot down a script. So, let’s start narrowing down who makes up that nebulous audience of yours!

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Whether you set out to make a video series, a documentary, or heck, even a docu-series, looking to your brand values for guidance is a great place to start. Your brand values define your company more broadly than your main product or service does, and ultimately guide your business’ core purpose and personality. Chances are, you probably already have a consensus on what those values are, so dust off that internal document of yours that covers them in detail, because you’re going to want to reference this! Let these brand values be your starting point for understanding your audience and the types of content they might be interested in consuming.

Here at Wistia, for example, creativity is one of our core brand values. We try to be creative in the way we approach everything from developing products and producing videos to funding our business and delighting our customers. As a company who invests in creativity, we know that our customers rely on us to look at problems differently and solve them in ways they may not have thought of before.

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So, when it came to deciding on a theme that would resonate with our audience for our first-ever docu-series, One, Ten, One Hundred, exploring the relationship between money and creativity seemed like the perfect fit. Leaning on this brand value helped us reach more people who are just as passionate as we are about being creative, regardless of your budget.

How to incorporate brand values into your content strategy:

Use your brand values as headers for lists of topics to brainstorm. These topics can start off pretty broad, i.e. under “Creativity” you could write down topics like “Freelancing” or “Photography.” Then, pressure-test your topics by simply polling your current customers, blog-readers, and social media followers. You can always send out a survey with a tool like SurveyMonkey, but nowadays you can do polls on social media platforms, like Facebook and Twitter. Get a consensus around the areas your audience is most interested in. Later on, you’ll narrow these down and get even more specific about the execution of the content itself.

How this helps you grow your audience:

Ideating around your brand values is a safeguard against short-term thinking. By keeping your content ambitions in line with your company’s long term goals, you’re making sure that the content you create has legs that can last a lifetime. Plus, involving your current audience and customers at this stage will help reveal which values actually resonate with them the most.

“Ideating around your brand values is a safeguard against short-term thinking.”

From the Jobs to Be Done framework to simply asking “why” over and over again, understanding and solving your audience’s problems is a tried-and-true marketing tactic that helps you win fans for life.

As a business, you’re probably already very familiar with the problems your customers face because you know what problems your product solves. And while your content should share some of that utility, the greater focus should be placed on the problems your customers face in their daily lives and at work.

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For example, Robinhood wants to “democratize the financial system” for millennials and younger generations through app-based stock trading — a mission that led to the company buying and taking over the MarketSnacks newsletter and podcast (which was rebranded as Robinhood Snacks).

Robinhood’s product solves the problem of making market investing less complicated, but the newsletter and daily podcast give their audience a look at the broader financial landscape in a way that’s more engaging and entertaining.

How to define audience problems:

When it comes to defining audience problems, we recommend using quantitative (demographics and behavior) and qualitative data (comments, feedback, customer interviews, and support queries) about your current customers to form hypotheses about audience pain points at work or at home.

Search online to see if anyone is discussing these pain points to validate your hypotheses, and then create a problem statement using the “people who + but” framework. A “people who + but” statement for Robinhood Snacks’ audience might be:

“Young people who want to make intelligent investments, but don’t always have time to track the financial markets.”

Use the problem statement as the basis for solutions you’ll explore in your content, and as always, be sure to check what you land on against your brand values to ensure it’s still a good fit.

How this helps you grow your audience:

The “people who + but” framework works well for growing your audience because it focuses on identity. A New York Times study on the psychology of sharing found that 68% of people share content online because they want to “give people a better sense of who they are and what they care about.” People who identify a certain way often face the same societal or cultural restraints that cause problems in their daily lives. If you can solve problems for people who identify in a certain way, or as part of a certain social group, your content is more likely to be shared around that group.

Narrowing your audience might sound like contradictory advice for growing it, but doing so actually helps you create better content. Niches allow you to come up with solutions that resonate deeply with the audience you’re targeting, and ultimately, create the kinds of relationships that lead to lasting brand loyalty and fandom.

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MailChimp is a great example of this. They’ve stated on their About page that creating an “empowered and inspired community” is part of their company culture. Their video content brand, MailChimp Presents, is focused on telling stories about “the entrepreneurial spirit.” And each of the series they’ve created so far focuses on a specific niche of entrepreneurs. For instance, the series Wi-Finders is all about digital nomads changing the cultures of the cities they live in.

The “people who + but” statement for Wi-Finders’ audience might be:

“Entrepreneurs and creatives who are considering a more adventurous lifestyle but feel limited by obligations at home or at work.”

The statement above articulates one clear problem these specific people face. What follows next, is a pitch that explains how you’ll address the problem with the execution of your content. Here’s what a pitch for Wi-Finders might look like:

“We’ll document the daily routines of digital nomads to show entrepreneurs the numerous ways they can make a life and live in cities around the world.”

How to create niche content:

Use your problem statement to zero in on an interest group or identity you want to focus on. Then, come up with a pitch for a branded show directed towards that audience. Start by testing out your ideas with smaller content first. Post a tweet thread or a blog post about the problems you’re observing, or create a short (2–5 minute) video exploring your idea.

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Share your content out in the world and gauge interest based on the response you get. You know you’ll have found a good audience niche when it feels like you hit a nerve with a specific online community. With that confidence in your back pocket, start investing in bigger initiatives like a branded show directed towards that audience niche.

How this helps grow your audience:

Specific, concrete details are what make content watchable, and you can only provide these details by narrowing the scope of each project. If your subject matter is too broad, your content will be bland and unhelpful. With a specific niche, you can draw in a quality audience that identifies with and is passionate about your subject. And the more content you create, the more specific, unique audiences you can pull in.

When you’ve found the right ideas and the right people, a kind of magic happens. You can create original content that’s valuable to others, aligns with your brand values, and allows you to flex your curiosity and creativity.

“When you’ve found the right ideas and the right people, a kind of magic happens.”

Without an audience for your content, you may as well be shouting into the void. Values, problems, and identity are all closely connected for getting to know your audience and then creating great content that engages them.

After all, the best content serves its audience in a way that speaks to what they already know about themselves, but also helps them change perspective and think about things in new ways. By grounding your content strategy in the knowledge of your audience, you can take more creative risks with confidence.



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Video Marketing

The Differences Between Wistia Channel Subscribers and YouTube Subscribers

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Last month we launched Wistia Subscribers, a new feature that adds a simple subscription form to your Wistia Channel, allowing viewers to subscribe just like they would on…well … YouTube.

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While on the surface these two features may seem a lot alike, there are some critical differences between YouTube Subscribers and Wistia Subscribers. Here’s what you need to know about Wistia Subscribers (and why this data may be more valuable to your business).

When someone subscribes to a Wistia Channel, you, the content creator, receive their email address. When someone subscribes to a YouTube Channel, on the other hand, all you get is an extra number on the subscriber counter.

With YouTube, you have no idea who has subscribed to your Channel and no way to reach them directly other than via paid advertising. YouTube controls the communication with your subscriber and keeps all the details of who they are locked away.

This is a problem, because with both B2C and B2B marketing in the modern world, an email list of engaged subscribers is one of the most valuable assets you can build. Once you have an email address, you can communicate directly with potential customers, build remarketing lists, encourage word of mouth, or use email enrichment to understand more about who your subscribers are.

With Wistia Integrations, it’s a 5-minute job to ensure all of your new subscribers are integrated directly with your email service provider or marketing automation platform. This means that every new Channel subscriber you have automatically gets sent to your database of leads and subscribers, where you can bring them into your wider email marketing and lead nurturing workflows. With YouTube subscribers…you can’t do any of those things.

“With Wistia Integrations, it’s a 5-minute job to ensure all of your new subscribers are integrated directly with your email service provider or marketing automation platform.”

If users subscribe to your YouTube Channel (and have notifications turned on) they’ll occasionally get an email that aggregates recent updates from all the channels they’re subscribed to. If you’re lucky, your video will be front and center in this email.

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If you’re unlucky, your update will be buried next to a review of an unappetizing looking chicken burger…or worse.

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However, with Wistia, you can choose to notify someone the moment a video is published, with your own branding, customized subject line, and copy, stipulated by you.

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The core difference between the two platforms is, ultimately, control. With Wistia, you pay for the product, but you retain all the value from each new subscriber. With YouTube, the product is free, but Google owns your audience and charges you for the privilege of trying to speak to them.

Social media can be a risky place, and YouTube is prone to changing its terms and conditions very quickly. The only way to futureproof your business from the whims of the biggest company in the world is to build the audience yourself.

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Video Marketing

4 Show Title Structures That’ll Help You Name Your Next Video Series

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There’s an old adage in the world of copywriting that states, “The sole purpose of the first sentence in an ad is to get you to read the second sentence.” When crafting binge-worthy content, the same principle applies. In this case, your first sentence is your video series’ title, and your second sentence is your trailer.

Coming up with the right name for your show can be the difference between your audience tuning into your first episode and scrolling right past it. So to help you craft the perfect title that’ll grab your audience’s attention and convince them to hit play, we’ve analyzed seven popular TV show names and shared some key takeaways that you can apply when naming your next binge-worthy show. Let’s get going!

“Coming up with the right name for your show can be the difference between your audience tuning into your first episode and scrolling right past it.”

The showrunners of Black Mirror have created a futuristic (yet all too realistic) universe where society completely depends on technology to lead their lives. Each storyline features a visionary piece of technology that seems strictly utilitarian at first. But by the end of each episode, the tech ends up revealing a profound insight into human nature. And that’s exactly why Black Mirror is such a great TV show title. Your device’s black screen reflects much more than your mirror image.

When naming your video series, consider using a metaphor to shed light on what it’s going to be all about at its core. By doing so, you’ll help viewers quickly make the connection between the name of your show and its overall theme. Your show’s title is a great opportunity to give your potential viewers an idea of what’s to come if they tune in.

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Coined by the advertising men who worked on Madison Avenue in the 1950s, the term “Mad Men” was just a clever play-on-words they used to refer to themselves as. But the brilliance of this show’s title doesn’t lie in its historic roots — it lies in the irony that the ad men of Madison Avenue (or at least the ones that are portrayed on this show) actually live their lives like madmen.

The creators of Mad Men placed a hidden meaning behind the show’s title as it subtly hints at one of its most important themes. If you can do the same, your audience will immediately understand the double-meaning of your title after watching the first episode of your video series, which can play a big role in persuading them to keep coming back for more. Who wouldn’t want to tune in to see how mad these men really get?

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Another example of a show with a pretty explicit double entendre for a series title is the classic medical comedy, Scrubs. The show portrays the lives of young, ambitious doctors who are trying to climb the medical ladder at a bustling hospital. But even though they’re eager to succeed, these rookies’ inexperience leads to countless blunders and antics. They don’t just wear scrubs — they are scrubs.

Using a double entendre to highlight your video series’ external and internal narrative in your title is a clever way to grab people’s attention and retain it after they start watching your video series. For instance, when you see the title Scrubs, you immediately understand that the show is about being a doctor. But after you watch the first episode, you start to realize that the show is more about the struggle of being a young doctor than purely just saving people’s lives.

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Sometimes, straightforward titles are the best titles. For instance, How I Met Your Mother is exactly what it sounds like: A show about the lead character, Ted Mosby, meeting the mother of his children — his wife.

Clarity is one of the most effective ways to get your audience to understand and visualize your video series’ concept. So when naming your next show, consider starting with a working title that clearly describes your video series’ premise. From there, you can spice it up a bit, but, sometimes, the most straightforward title can be your best title.

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Regardless of whether or not your video series can compete with a big-budget Hollywood production, your show title still needs to be compelling enough for an audience to want to give it a shot. So be sure to give your video series’ title some serious thought before slapping it on there and calling it a day. Remember, you only have so many opportunities to grab your audience’s attention, so make sure you step out of the gates with your best foot forward!

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Video Marketing

10 Ways to Grow Your Audience and Get More Eyes on Your Video Series

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Building an audience for your video series might feel a little daunting — how do you get people to actually sit down and watch the show you poured your blood, sweat, and tears into creating? The truth is, distributing your series and getting people to pay attention to and talk about it is a huge part of Brand Affinity Marketing. It’s also something you should actively pay close attention to throughout the entire production process. Don’t just worry about promoting your series once the entire series is made — there’s plenty you can do while producing your content to ensure that the right audience is tuning in.

So, whether or not you’re a few episodes deep on your business’ first video series, or if you’re just in the ideation stage of the process, check out these suggestions for how to grow your audience over time and get more folks interested in watching your show!

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You went through all the trouble of sourcing guests, nurturing your relationships with them, and sending contracts back and forth, but you didn’t follow up with them when their episode actually aired. Oh boy, that’s a big no-no! You don’t want to miss the opportunity to engage with your guests and encourage them to spread the word. Make it super easy for them to share the episodes they’re on with their personal networks by giving them exactly what they need to get going with just a few clicks. Here are some suggestions for what you can share:

  • Pre-written tweets and posts with short links to their specific episode
  • Different cuts of their episode that features them prominently
  • Images and other unique media with quotes and headshots of the guest

This is a great way to get more people to watch your content, and the good news is, you can encourage this type of behavior from your guests without coming off as needy or demanding. Be sure to word your communication in a way that lets the guest know that this isn’t mandatory (it’s the truth after all!), but it would be really great if they were able to give it a share on social media, for example. The main takeaway here is to make it so easy to share your series that your guest would be hard-pressed to not want to do it.

“The main takeaway here is to make it so easy to share your series that your guest would be hard-pressed to not want to do it.”

This is another simple marketing tactic that can be easily overlooked when hyping up a video series — promoting your show internally! Sure, you might work closely with the people on your team who are responsible for creating the series themselves, but people across the organization might not be as in-tune with it. Send a team-wide email every time you publish a new episode and be sure to include pre-written tweets and posts (similar to the ones you might share with guests) so your teammates can encourage their own personal networks to tune in. If you have a big projector in your office, you can even screen each new episode during lunch to ensure that everyone has the opportunity to tune in.

Also, be sure to think about who on your team has the biggest audience and personal network. Here at Wistia, our CEO has a pretty decent Twitter following, so whenever we release a new episode of Brandwagon he shares it along with a little friendly tweetstorm (it doesn’t hurt that he’s also the host of the show, but you get the picture!).

If you sense that folks on your team are a little reluctant to share about your series, you can always point out how getting more people to watch the series will help build brand affinity, turning passive viewers into active fans of your business. It’s a win-win for every team!

While we’re talkin’ email, your video series can also benefit from being featured in the email signatures of public-facing employees at your business. Adding your show’s logo to your email signature won’t cost your marketing team a dime and the impact it can have on how many people hear of your show can be huge. Here’s an example of an email signature that a lot of folks on our team have right now to promote our talk show for marketers:

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Plus, for those folks in sales, it can be a great conversation starter! Just read out to teams at your company like sales, customer support, and human resources and give them what they need to get set up. Hopefully, you’ve noticed a trend by now — make it as easy as possible for people to help spread the word about your video series.

You’re going to want to order yourself up a nice plate of supporting content when promoting your new video series. One of the best ways to attract new viewers to your long-form content is by getting them in the door with content that already speaks to their interests. For example, a viewer might not only become interested in watching our docu-series One, Ten, One Hundred, after they’ve read a blog post about how to make a beautiful set based on lessons we learned while shooting it. That’s why we recommend creating and promoting other content related to your series — you just never know who might show up to watch your show!

There are a number of angles you can take to creating this content depending on the type of show you’re making. Here are some examples to get your creative juices flowing:

  • Share an extended interview with a guest
  • Dive deeper into a topic you only covered briefly
  • Pull and share key takeaways from an entire season
  • Take a segment from your show and expand upon it
  • Craft thought leadership content based on overarching themes

Now, this is something that should be baked into the actual production and scripting process from the start. You know how YouTubers and podcasters always ask people to “rate, review, and subscribe” to their shows? Well, it’s for a good reason — if you don’t ask, chances are most people will forget to do it. But, it’s never too late to make an explicit (but friendly) ask of your subscribers so long as you are truly providing value in return. Once your audience has shown that they are engaging with your content by subscribing for updates and watching several episodes, why not email a targeted list of folks and ask them to spread the word to their friends?

Be sure to add links to the different social networks and provide some boilerplate copy along with your unique hashtag to send them in the right direction. The last thing you want to do is put a bad taste in people’s mouths, however, so keep your copy fun and friendly, ensuring they know this is more of a “nice to have” than a demand. Here’s an example of an email we sent to folks asking them to give their friends a heads up about our series, Brandwagon:

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Think about the last show you binge-watched on your streaming platform of choice — did you happen to watch any bloopers or clips from the show along the way? I sure did! After the last episode of Game of Thrones aired I spent far too much time watching interviews with cast members right there on HBO as I wiped away tears of frustration (we all know how it ends). The bottom line is, sharing trailers and clips from your series on social media is one of the best ways to engage new viewers and get them excited about your show.

Share funny clips and outtakes, entire segments, extended interviews, and more, with the express purpose of encouraging folks to watch the full episode on your website. Also, be sure to create and incorporate a unique hashtag that’s related to your series (not your business) into your post. Ultimately, when trying to build an audience and get more eyes on your content, you want to market your content like a media company, in other words, use advertising to strategically distribute trailers and clips that tease out a bigger content experience on your own website.

“Sharing trailers and clips from your series on social media is one of the best ways to engage new viewers and get them excited about your show.”

Raise your hand if you’ve ever entered a contest or giveaway on social media. Is your hand raised? I’m (somewhat) embarrassed to say mine definitely is. From t-shirts and socks to stickers and pens, there are tons of different giveaway options out there that you can consider when promoting your series — and they won’t break the bank. Often it’s less about the quality of the prize (no one’s saying you should give away a car, though that would’ve worked well for Brandwagon), but you should offer some sort of prize or incentive for engaging with your content if you can.

For example, we ran a t-shirt giveaway on our Instagram Story where we had folks answer a series of questions related to the content in the most recent episode of our talk show. The first three people to get all the questions right got a free t-shirt — easy peasy! When you send the t-shirt to the lucky winners in the mail, be sure to ask them to post a picture of them with their prize and tag your business in the post. This will help you reach an entirely new audience, and chances are if this contest winner liked your series, some of their friends might too.

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Pay attention to the people who are actively engaging with your content, plain and simple. These are your early adopters, the folks you want to find more of so you can grow your audience. Tactically, you can create polls on Twitter to get them to engage with your brand and share countdowns for when new episodes drop on Instagram so they never miss a beat.

Read and reply to their comments, ask them questions about your show, show them gratitude for tuning in, and above all else, be human. Thank them for their feedback and commentary, and then apply these insights when crafting future episodes of your video series. Letting your audience know that they’re making an impact can turn passive viewers into engaged fans, and who doesn’t want that?

Now, you might be familiar with podcasts that are recorded (video podcasts), but have you thought about flipping that concept on its head and starting with a video series first? Depending on the type of show you’re creating, you may want to consider turning your series into a binge-worthy podcast so more fans can enjoy your content. This tends to work particularly well for interview-style video series, as a lot of great content often gets left on the cutting room floor in order to keep the video watchable, engaging, and not too long.

Creating a podcast version of your show is also a great way to help get your series discovered — folks in your audience may actually be bigger podcasts-listeners than video-watchers. By turning your series into a podcast, you can meet your audience where they already are, and then ultimately, cross-promote your video series for a deeper, more robust content experience. Remember, though, there are tons and tons of podcasts out there, so you have to make sure your content is actually really good and provides value. In other words, don’t just rip the audio from your episode and slap it on Spotify. Take the time to create a really good podcast that can stand on its own, and then use it as another opportunity to talk about your show. Use your blog to write recaps and synopses of what you covered and include links and relevant time staps directing folks to interesting moments throughout.

Here’s an example of a podcast we created called The Brandwagon Interviews that’s based on our newest video series, Brandwagon.

Last but not least, don’t be afraid to get creative when it comes to promoting your series. Think outside the box and try new tactics to see what gains traction with your niche audience. Why not make a Spotify playlist that features songs that match the theme of your series? Hang out on Reddit on relevant threads to see what people are talking about as it relates to your series, and if topics or concepts overlap, share an episode there (but make sure you don’t sound too self-promotional or spammy!).

Another way to get creative with your promotion is by finding other video series or podcasts that are targeting a similar audience and trying to get on their show. Many podcasters are already masters of this, which is why you may hear some of your favorite podcast hosts doing the rounds as guests on other podcasts you already listen to. Take advantage of the amazing content you’re investing your time and resources into creating and try to think about how your favorite streaming platforms promote their content. Rip a page out of their book and start promoting your content more creatively with clips, behind-the-scenes content, extras, and more!

This may sound obvious, but if your content is relevant to your core customer base in some way (which it should be!), send them an email to let them know about your new series. Of course, you don’t want to spam them, so refrain from emailing them over and over about your show. Instead, let them know when and where they can watch your series, and then give them the opportunity to sign up for updates. That way, they can opt-in for further updates and communication about your specific series.

You can also add a notification within your product if you’re a SaaS company, or simply update your website or homepage with a call to action to watch your series. You may feel like you’re doing everything to promote your show on social media, email, and beyond, but remember that not all of your customers might be following your business on social or subscribed for email updates. So what are you waiting for? Start growing your audience and getting more eyes on your content with these ten tips for promotion!

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