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One of the hardest things about web content, I've found, has got to be connecting with the people who not only would like your show, but are actually actively seeking it! The great thing about the internet and this new age of content creation has got to be the accessibility; you can MAKE what you want to see. The other side of this coin, is, of course, the sheer volume of content that becomes available when everyone and their dog is buying domain space and throwing up their webseries.
So how do you make an impact? How do you rise above the noise? I'm going to be honest, I am not asking this without vested interest: I HAVE a show that I am very proud (and a budding fanbase that I am very honored to have). But how do you take it to the next level?
This discussion, I hope, will be a bouncing board. I can tell you what techniques we've tried and how effective they were for us. Maybe together we can figure out some possible ways to break through the noise, and find those out there who would love our content.
Good post Clancy!
This is a topic we cover extensively in the WSN Academy and you have to attend the class to get the goodies. But what you're pretty much saying is like yelling in room where everyone else is already yelling. There are many ways you could position yourself to rise above the noise and it starts before the web series is made. It still surprises me that people still just create and upload to the Web hoping the audience will come. That's old school strategy and it doesn't work on the Internet where you're competing with a zillion other content for an audience. And the problem is that more online content is coming!
Networking with other web series IS an important in getting that initial inertia, but you may soon find yourself in an uncomfortable position if you're not a little mindful. And I am speaking from experience. It pays to think about your show as a product, and all the shows you're affiliating as a sort of network. Be very cautious, as fan will draw assumptions on YOUR show off of these other shows. I'll explain what I've experienced or witnessed with this approach.
1. LOVE EVERYONE. This seems like a very good approach. Spread the love, mi casa es su casa, fan-base sharing. It's like the 70's up in this place. This works, in a way, because it is very easy for fans to find a LOT of content in your every growing network of shows. And hey! If two incredibly similar fantasy/tabletop sitcom comedies end up on the same site? No problem. Live and let live.
Unfortunately, it doesn't often pan out that well. Fans aren't like peat moss, to be plucked, transplanted and soon thriving. Wooing fans of one series to check out another is often more difficult than you'd imagine, even when your show is just a link click away. And when your network of indie shows extends far and wide, including shows with incredibly similar subject matter, the loss of 'your brand' and identity is much harder for the random internet viewer to distinguish. Furthermore, with extensive networks comes extensive reciprocity. Suddenly you'll have to plan YOUR production around the communities events. Can't do a Kickstarter now, because your fans are exhausted financially after promoting that Dr. Who series you pimped them on. Because, you know, that Dr. Who show pimped your last campaign. See what I mean?
And don't be suprised when your fans take their frustration out on you after that Dr. Who show falls off the planet after two episodes. As far as they're concerned, you're an accomplice :/
2. How do you avoid that? Well, the other end of the coin seems... Cut throat. Every man for his of herself. Every other show be damned, you're going to carve your own hunk of fan real estate out of the internet if it kills you (or someone else). You will NOT message back that guy who makes Laser Marmots from Planet Tzorr, and you will not follow The Guild on Twitter.
This ... Well I don't know if this works. Mostly because I've never seen anyone do it completely. The closest example I can think of would be Olan Rogers who, to my knowledge, doesn't really network outside of his own product. This has created him an amazing connection and trust between him and his fans, where they know they will not be getting hit up to 'like' other shows.
The middle path is, obviously, the best choice. DO hitch wagons with other creators out there who do work that you appreciate and do diligence to their fans, and try to keep that network a little bit discretionary as to who you (all) are promoting. Do your show a favor: don't diffuse your impact by letting shows with similar appeal take your fans attention.
Anyway, those are my passing thoughts on networking between webseries. I could be overly severe, but I've personally seen both sides of this equation :D
I like Olan's approach of not networking outside his own product because its a waste of time. Once you've identified your audience, its easier to identify where they hang out and be present in those places (online and off). It's important to take into consideration who your audience is before the series is made. For those who jumped right in without planning, its never too late to go back to the drawing board and carve out a more streamlined strategic plan.
Totally agree. Personally, in regards to my own show, it was a fanbase that spurred on the creation of our show. We did one episode as part of a skit show, and the response was overwhelming for this ONE segment. By the time we made five, it was clear we had something on our hands, and we were networked with the Seattle content group Zombie Orpheus Entertainment.
I will have to check out the resources this network can offer!
You seem to have an audience Clancy from what you're saying. Now you just need to built it out by connecting with creators of similar shows for cross-promotion opportunities. Follow Olan's approach! :)
It's good sized. Botique-sized, I suppose. Good passionate fanbase-base material BUT yes. It is time to grow. I will look into the consultation services. I think our show could benefit from it.
After thinking about it, Julian Smith seems to have done a good job of networking. Are you familiar with him?
Ok so we covered networking. Let's explore other avenues. What has been your experience with social media outlets? Twitter, Tumblr, Facebook? What has helped/hurt you in these areas?
I think you could start a new thread for that so not to bury it in here. :) Awesome topic again! :)
Haha I just didn't want to clutter up your nicely organized website with a spam's worth of threads!
Not at all. People post threads all the time, but I only feature those that makes sense or are beneficial to the community on the homepage.
One thing I will say is in order to find your audience, you need to know who your audience is. Seems like an obvious and not terribly insightful point, but understanding your viewer demographics and then strategically targeting them is critical. Case-in-point if you can demonstrate your fan base is 18-24 year old gamers, then in-game ads, gaming forums, gamer-themed Meetups, channels like Machinima, targeted facebook ads et al is where you'll find your audience. If your audience is 40+ working mothers you want to be looking in very different places. This is something we try to think about before we even go about creating our content.