Why Brands Should Double Down on Episodic Content with Rand Fishkin

When it comes to marketing, content is king. Whether you’re publishing mountains of content as frequently as possible or crafting one-off pieces that are jam-packed with value for a larger audience, the goal is to capture an audience.

How do we get there in 2020? Rand Fishkin, founder of SEO software startup Moz and current CEO & Co-founder of Market Research leader SparkToro, told RG during a recent talk that the best strategy for right now is episodic content. Episodic content is broad topic content that is broken down into smaller chunks or “episodes,” which could be blog posts, videos, podcasts and more. 

Traditionally, we think of episodic content as your favorite Wednesday night TV show or a magazine that arrives monthly. Today, it applies to larger use cases. The value of episodic content lies in the idea that your audience knows when they can expect new content from you. So why is this beneficial? 

It cultivates a brand association. In its most basic form, brand association is what you think of when you hear a company’s name. Think of Geico’s Gecko or their “15 minutes could save you 15% or more on car insurance” tagline. Episodic content takes this one step further, by offering a topic that associates with a brand’s value add. 

Moz wanted to become synonymous with SEO. So they hosted Whiteboard Fridays, informational SEO videos posted every Friday. Viewers didn’t necessarily claim that they liked watching Moz’s SEO instructional videos. But they tuned in because they knew when a new episode was coming out and they were excited to watch. Episodic content attracted people interested in SEO to Moz’s site every Friday for new tips — and Moz was established as a thought leader.

It creates binge-worthy content. Recurring content builds archives. “If you liked one episode, then there are 500 more past episodes you can watch,” said Fishkin. So new audiences — that arrived from organic search or referral links, for example — will find archived content, which to them is brand new. 

This benefits the recurring audience as well. “People don’t like to watch lots of good new shows. They like to watch ‘The Office’ again and again and again,” said Fishkin. “There is a comfort in bingeing this thing I’m familiar with, that I know and that I like.” The content they’ve already seen is a comfort space — they know what to expect, they know it’s of value and they know it’s reliable. Content archives allow for a new audience to get hooked quickly and an existing audience to stay hooked.

It keeps your flywheel moving, even in uncertain times. Episodic content has workflow benefits, too. Consistent deadlines force you to continuously move on your marketing flywheel. You’re forced to calendar and plan ahead, ensuring that in weeks when content is light, you can draw from your backlog and keep the audience engaged.