Memorable content is driven by acutely understanding your audience. To become a leader in the field, success boils down to leveraging data to understand the behaviors and aspirations of your users to create relevant and impactful content. Netflix has outmaneuvered much of the competition through its tried-and-true formula for developing smart, original content that captures the attention of its audiences.
Winning content encompasses five key principles
- Great content is original
In her best-selling book, Writing to Persuade, Trish Hall, Op-Ed Editor at the NY Times, noted that editors are invariably “bonded by the desire to get the most original thinking on every topic.” They want two things: A surprising writer, or a surprising theme. But all editors of top media brands want content that’s startling.
2. Great content is relevant
One of the distinctive features of viral programming is its relevance to viewers – that content meets the viewer’s interests, needs or curiosities to the hilt. Who better than Netflix to exemplify that with mega-busters like “House of Cards” that won largely because the company matched its subscribers’ interests to a ‘T’.
When it comes to African-American millennials, analysts like Reniqua Allen say modern African-American millennials turn to media to forge their own identities. Netflix seems to have picked up on that. A recent Streamlytics survey found that 84% of African-American millennials respondents prefer Netflix for shows like YOU, a TV series on the problems of emerging technology. Shows like these that feature timely, existentialist themes which speak directly to viewers.
3. Great content is optimistic, inspiring and informative
Memorable and enduring content touches viewers and either inspires them or fortifies them with valuable information.
Our own survey on the streaming behavior of African-American millennials indicated that respondents tended to prefer shows that guide them through the political upheavals and anxieties of our time. These included inspirational shows like the comedy Turn up Charlie, where the hero is given a final chance at success, and Chilling Adventures of Sabrina, where the half-human, half-witch Sabrina succeeds in navigating her identity.
4. Great content is quality-driven
Great content involves investing energy, time, passion and unstinting resources to deliver the most professional-looking content possible. No, we don’t need Netflix’s billion-dollar budget to make great stories. There were low-budget series that hit big. The comedy, the Mis-Adventures of Awkward Black Girl that went from YouTube sensation to being picked by HBO was funded by $56,269 from 1,960 Kickstarter donations. Critics found it quality-driven, honest and original.
5. Great content is viewer-led
Netflix tracks its viewers’ every step to find and give them what they want. According to the online entertainment news website Screen Rant, 65% of television shows fail. Netflix, in contrast, hails a 70% success rate.
Here’s how Netflix’s winning formula works: Netflix scrolls through 30 million “plays” a day, including when you pause, rewind and fast forward. It goes through three million searches a day, checking data that include which device you use to access Netflix and the days and times of the week you do so. Netflix even attaches hundreds of tags – or meta descriptions – to its movies and TV shows to accumulate data on things like volume, colors, and scenery for signals on what viewers like.
As Jonathan Friedland, chief communications officer of Netflix, told the New York Times, “ we have a direct relationship with consumers, so we know what people like to watch and that helps us understand how big the interest is going to be for a given show.”
Great content is rare. Producing dynamic content happens when you focus on innovation, quality, relevant themes, and inspirational copy. Most of all, you’ll produce such content when your team is consumer-led through relevant data.
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