Nas has a lyric that goes "no idea is original / there's nothing new under the sun / it's never what you said but how it's done". If that applies to anything, it's video series.
If you're trying to find a new creative video idea to help you stand out, I have good news: that there's an infinite supply of ideas out there. It's never too late to start.
The secret is in thinking of the genre and context you will be providing. Those 2 variables are worth unpacking quickly before we get started.
Songs do it all the time. Different artists often discuss the same topics but shed different light on it based on their positioning on the topic and their style for expressing it. The genre of your social media videos and series come is no different. By paying attention to your show positioning and style of delivery, you create a blank canvas for your brand to craft videos based off of.
To illustrate, here is the same topic (legal advice) covered in 2 styles. The first one is anecdotal and straight to the point as a talking head video, and the other one is done humorously through the medium of a reaction video series.
You and I can go through the exact same set of events but come out with totally different experiences or interpretations of them. This is largely based on our prior knowledge, our perceptions, and other factors that make every person's unique point of view, well, unique. The same goes for brands.
What context can you add to the videos you create that will make it easy to stand out and difficult to replicate? Maybe it's the specific clientele you work with. Maybe it's the decades of experience your company has in a certain domain that allows you to reflect on how things were vs. how things are. Perhaps it's how new you are, and thus approaching age-old topics with a fresh pair of eyes. You get the idea.
On to the show.
As we've seen from our breakdown of episodic content, there are many different show types that you, your business, brand or organization can create.
Marketers that seek to study and learn from the show types have a better vehicle from which to birth new ideas and expand their creative vocabulary.
The types of shows range from talk shows and discussions to more documentary-style pieces. When it comes to the design and implementing of your show or original series idea, the sky is the limit.
Here's a video we did to summarize it, as part of our Build a Video Series 101 show:
1. Podcast talk shows
Podcast talk shows are simply filmed conversations that take place between one or more people discussing a certain niche or topic. It's also one of the easiest social video ideas to create. Simply get a podcast going and leave the cameras on.
By necessity, it has to be gripping. Entertainment can mean inspiring, awe-inducing, exciting, suspenseful, shocking, motivating, and so on.
If you're stuck for podcast show ideas, just consider the genre and context you'll take on your main topic. That will help you stand out.
Can you take a formal topic and make it more approachable?
Can you take something formal, and nuanced and playfully make it formal and detailed?
Can you ask the questions no one else is willing to ask?
Consider taking on a certain personality and stepping into the 'zone' as the host, take a cue from your favourite radio talk shows or TV shows. Another core tenet is ofcourse the guests you bring on your show. The caliber, style, klout and personality of the guests you bring on to your show helps people build familiarity and credibility through association - particularly when these guests already carry a certain brand of their own.
2. Panel discussions
Panel Discussions are a close cousin of the podcast talk show. They are moderated by 1 or 2 hosts and may feature several guests at a time. Panel discussions are great for brands that want to present different viewpoints. It gives established and new brands alike in the same room to explore certain topics and points of view.
When selecting guests for panel discussions, make sure that your guests are comfortable with others who will be and that they know who will be attending.
One of the advantages of panel discussions is that your audience will have the opportunity to hear from different leaders in your chosen industry. Business owners and others in organizational leadership positions might want to listen in to get trade secrets and will not want to miss an episode for fear of missing out on useful information.
As with the "credibility by association" concept, consumers may want the opportunity to connect with the guests that you have at your panel discussions and build their professional networks.
Panel discussions don't have to be an entire show. You can transition into a panel discussion from a smaller podcast discussion or vice versa.
3. Reaction video series
People love watching videos of people watching videos or reacting to things. Especially on social media. Reaction videos are videos in which people react to events in general. You may have come across reaction videos of people reacting to music videos, films, games, or even reaction videos of people reacting to reaction videos.
Reaction videos can be quite effective in displaying a different point of view on a topic to your audience as well as capitalizing on various trends.
One example is Pricing Page Teardown by ProfitWell. In this show, a SaaS subscription metrics platform breaks down pricing page strategies used by top brands such as Netflix and Shopify using data collected from customers. This reaction video series is both entertaining and educational.
Another example is a reaction video series by Sahouri, an insurance agency. Their show Allen and Laurie in the Morning looks at different seasonal hazards that are common. The show's content consists of them reacting and surveying the various incidents from an insurance perspective in a humorous way.
4. Documentary-style series
Documentaries for brands are not unlike documentaries that you’d see on various non-fiction topics on television or YouTube. A documentary starts with a key question and then sets off to answer it, on the way crossing paths with different characters, places, and situations on the way.
The idea is to take your audience on a journey to answer a question or concern about a topic. Done right, it can spark curiosity among your consumers.
It may involve a medley of conversations with company employees, customers, prospects, partners, and other people that are relevant to participate. When done right, as with anything, it can be binge-worthy.
Mailchimp, the email marketing platform, has a documentary series called Wifinders. In this series, they explore the ease of access around the world and how it's changed peoples' lives. This is how you can use storytelling and different perspectives on your product or service to boost your brand.
Behind the scenes are usually focused on the inner working of a specific company or brand. It's a great way to make your audience feel like they're getting exclusive access to your team.
This insider-style content helps makes your content more relatable and builds affinity over time. This can be contrasted with “faceless corporations” that don’t invite their customers for a look under the hood. A Behind-the-scenes series is great if you have a large audience.
Just look at Ernest Packaging's Cardboard Chaos. A shining example of sheer creativity:
6. Live talks
Live talks are among the most versatile of the show types. As you can do a podcast talk show, behind-the-scenes, panel discussion or anything else. The show is just live rather than prerecorded.
One of the main benefits of live episodic content is being able to co-create such content in the presence of a live audience. Depending on the format, Q&A sessions that follow after the main talks could also make for an interesting twist when planning micro-content.
A great example of a popular, long-running live talk show is by LinkedIn, their show Speaker Series features thought leaders from around the world who inspires employees and members on the LinkedIn platform with inspiring ideas.
Ready to start creating your video series? Check out our series on how to build a series (yup) Build a Video Series 101.