How to Hook Us with Serial Video Content We Can’t Stop Watching

If you want to get big results with your video marketing then it's time to start creating serial video content that engages us to watch more. 

The way we consume video content has changed and in this post I'll break down how you can “Netflix Your Video Content” to hook us in for longer. 

How to Hook Us with Serial Video Content We Can't Stop Watching
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At Social Media Marketing World in 2018, I was fortunate to speak about engagement on Instagram and how to get results with your content.

I talked about our evolution in consuming content from the days of watching discs on Viewmaster toys to the way we are now consuming video content across social media – with the term Netflix Your Content.

It doesn't matter what the tool is, we have always loved the idea of seeing “what's next” and clicking, swiping, advancing to the next screen, episode or story. This has been accentuated by the Netflix era where we now are actively encouraged to watch episode after episode.

And it seems I'm not the only person who thinks we are consuming content this way and we should consider it in our video marketing:

Just like me, many of you can relate to the fact that we often feel we just want to watch one more episode!

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So I thought I'd write a post expanding on my ideas about Netflixing Your Content.  It's really all about creating episodic or serial video content.


Because that's the way we've become conditioned to watching content. Serial video content is consumed episode after episode in one sitting.

Not so long ago, we would spend the vast majority of our week waiting for the weekly release of a favourite drama or sitcom. But now, we can binge watch an entire series in a day. Netflix has changed the way we consume content.

I'm not passing judgement on how we watch shows, because heaven knows I am partial to the odd few hours of watching consecutive episodes of my latest favourite series.

Instead, I want to roll with the idea that we do love to binge on serial video content, and break down a few great examples of how you can Netflix your video content.

4 Examples of Serial Video Content that Hooks You In

1. Create a YouTube or Website Series

YouTube makes it super easy to create playlists that lead us from one episode to the next. If you are creating video content on YouTube, then consider making it serial video content.

One example of a great YouTube series is Charity Water's “The Journey”. They sent their Content Strategist, Tyler out into the field to document what it was like to live without clean water.  The result is a series you watch episode after episode:

You can put a series like this on YouTube or you can feature it on your own website. Charity Water did just that by putting a landing page on their website too – as a separate way to watch the video series, episode after episode.

Notice that it says Season 1? This indicates that more is coming!

The Journey by Charity Water - How to Hook Us with Serial Video Content We Can't Stop Watching
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The Journey by Charity Water - How to Hook Us with Serial Video Content We Can't Stop Watching
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Click the image above to start watching!


Another great example of serial video content – and (funnily enough, similarly named) – is Social Media Examiner's series called The Journey. It's about how they prepared to stage the world's biggest social media conference (Social Media Examiner) in San Diego in March, featuring Mike Stelzner and his team.

The idea of the Journey was to use a storytelling format to take potential attendees at Social Media Marketing World behind the scenes of what it actually takes to put on a world class conference. And hopefully hook them in to attending.

The premise of the show was that their team was trying to break records with attendance at the 2018 event and hopefully some of the viewers would be part of that attendance just from watching.

You can watch it here… and fair warning: This is a playlist so you'll be hooked into watching episode after episode.

As a speaker at SMMW I was hooked in and watched every episode. After all, this is the one event I have made sure I attend every year since it has started (and I have been a speaker at 5 of them).

The beauty of this format was that the speakers and regular attendees also shared the episodes, making the reach of this series even bigger.  Using it as a lead magnet to attract new attendees at the conference was a win for Social Media Examiner. But the biggest win was how engaging their storytelling model was.

Hot Tip:  Do what Social Media Examiner did in The Journey. Add a teaser at the end of each episode from the forthcoming episode to hook us in. Their use of mini-cliffhangers is very effective and inspired from the classic serial dramas and soap operas on Television.

2.  Instagram Story Playlists

Instagram is huge with 1 Billion active monthly users!  And Instagram Stories is a big part of that.  Even Mark Zuckerberg said recently that our preferred way of consuming content is likely to become more about the Story Format than traditional newsfeeds.

I love how Social Media Examiner took their Journey series and turned it into an Instagram Story series. Not the entire episode, but sections of it. This way, they both

(a) entertained with content on their Story and

(b) encouraged us to click through and watch the YouTube version.

Social Media Examiner Instagram Playlist - How to Hook Us with Serial Video Content We Can't Stop Watching
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Did You Know? That you can save your Instagram Stories into Story Highlights to access later in Playlists? Story Highlights are an exciting feature of Instagram Stories.

They let you combine multiple Instagram Stories into a playlist or album of content for your followers to watch at their leisure. In this era of Netflix and binge-watching, it’s a smart move to organise your stories into playlists. Here's some of mine (the circle icons):

Instagram Story Highlight Icons - Socially Sorted - How to Hook Us with Serial Video Content We Can't Stop Watching
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How to Create Instagram Story Highlights:

  1. Find the toggle in your settings to Archive your Instagram Stories.
  2. Switch the toggle to ON and Instagram will keep a copy of all of your Story content.
  3. Choose Highlights under your Profile Picture (click the + button) and create a new highlight with a new title.
  4. Follow the directions to search in your archived posts and add the screens/pages you choose to specific Highlight playlists.

Here are a few more examples of Instagram Accounts that have created engaging playlists with serial video content:

Social Media Examiner, San Diego Zoo and Styling You Instagram Story Playlists with Highlights - How to Hook Us with Serial Video Content We Can't Stop Watching
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  1. Social Media Examiner also add their Instagram Story Takeovers to a highlight playlist.  A few of their speakers (including myself) were invited to take over their Instagram Account and we were featured on their Instagram Story leading up to the conference and then later added to the Highlight Playlist.
  2. San Diego Zoo to a great job of creating Highlight Playlists. One in particular that I love is their Baby Playlists – think baby crocs, hippos and koalas.
  3. Nikki Parkinson from Styling You has a #MakeUpMonday Playlist where she adds her MakeUp Monday tips from her Instagram Stories.  If you start watching you'll be hooked in to watch one after the other. Each video transitions quickly into the next.

I also love Doctors without Borders on Instagram. They have created a series of Instagram Stories about their staff out in the field, like this one.

Ian Cross, a GP from the UK shares his rewarding yet harrowing experiences working on the frontline of a refugee crisis.  They are gripping to watch, and an engaging mix of video + still images with text overlay.

Doctors without Borders on Instagram - How to Hook Us with Serial Video Content We Can't Stop Watching
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Hot Tip: If you create awesome Instagram Stories, don't waste them. Add some Story Highlights, switch your “Archive” toggle to ON and go for it with Instagram Story Highlight Playlists!

3. IGTV Series on Instagram TV

IGTV or Instagram TV is here. It's long-form video on Instagram but with a very unique twist. It's vertical!  That's right… we hold our phones vertically so Instagram decided to embrace the way we are consuming content and create a purely vertical video platform.

I think this is a great idea. Now, don't get me wrong – I LOOOOOOVE landscape video. In fact one of my favourite things is to go to the cinema, so I hope that never goes away. But I also think vertical video is going to be a big part of how we consume content moving forward. I even wrote about it here.

When it comes to mobile content, it's pretty obvious that we are consuming content in video format more and more. It's how we hold our phones!

Now we can create IGTV episodes on our own “channel” (our Instagram Account) and anyone can do it. So I wasn't surprised to see that Charity Water have converted their “Journey” video into a vertical video format for IGTV.

The Journey by Charity Water on IGTV - How to Hook Us with Serial Video Content We Can't Stop Watching
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The Journey by Charity Water on IGTV - How to Hook Us with Serial Video Content We Can't Stop Watching
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Tyler takes the Journey vertical…

Note that they have edited it carefully to ensure it suits the vertical format.

If you are going to create IGTV, create it so that it is optimized for vertical format. 

There's so much potential for creating Instagram TV or IGTV.  Just like YouTube, it can still be daunting however, if you are not a film-maker or not sure what to create. Or maybe don't like going face-to-camera. I have a few ideas for you.

What to create on Instagram TV if you are not Confident on Camera

  1. Interview someone – a client, fellow attendee at a conference, a colleague, a team member.
  2. Take us on a tour around your facility, office.
  3. Tease a new product launch – take us on a journey like Social Media Examiner did.
  4. Do a Q&A – answer questions from your audience on topics you feel confident about.
  5. Do a Q&A about questions you don't get asked but your audience should be asking – Should Ask Questions vs Frequently Asked Questions.
  6. Do a screencast showing how to do something.

My first IGTV was a screencast of a tip for visual content creation.  So far I'm experimenting with what is possible with Vertical format and I think it has huge potential. You just have to get creative.

Socially Sorted on IGTV - How to Hook Us with Serial Video Content We Can't Stop Watching
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I used a vertical format to show how to create an Instagram Story Poll template with tips for location-based restaurants and cafes to use it strategically to get more eyeballs on their stories:

Socially Sorted Tutorial on IGTV - How to Hook Us with Serial Video Content We Can't Stop Watching
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Instagram shows the episodes that you have available at the bottom of the screen when scrolling IGTV content for a particular account so it's ready and waiting in playlists to hook you in.

Here's an example from our Australian Rules Football IGTV:

Australian AFL on IGTV - How to Hook Us with Serial Video Content We Can't Stop Watching
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Hot Tip:  Use the terms “Episode 1” or “Show” to indicate that you have more than one episode to watch.


4. Free Video Training (make it binge-worthy)

For many years it's been commonplace for marketers to release a free video series to teach a free topic and then later offer a product for sale.  This type of marketing usually involves 3 or 4 short (free) training videos that are sent out every couple of days by email.

That's all changing.

Recently I watched a video series just like this, but with one big difference – it was deliberately designed to be like Netflix.  All of the episodes were released at once.

And you could easily click to the “next episode” after the previous one ended.  Essentially I was being encouraged to binge-watch the whole series. The clever cookie that did this was James Wedmore, with his recent free training.

How to Hook Us with Serial Video Content We Can't Stop Watching
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I have to say, as someone who is always striving to balance time in my life, this was a Godsend. I was able to watch all the episodes, stay focused on the content and not lost time context switching.

In a way it's probably more effective for the creator in getting people to convert to buy their program. You have all the information at once and it's not forgotten or skipped or left unwatched.  Once we move on to other things, often we don't come back to it.

The entire video series was set up to binge-watch. It was very strategic and very smart.

Hot Tip:  If you create a video series, make it watchable as serial video content.  You can still send reminder emails out after a few days, but for the most part people will watch it in one go!


Of course you can apply this to any social media format or video platform you use. You can definitely create playlists on Facebook using video or Facebook Live and of course now Facebook has added Facebook Watch to the mix.

The bottom line is that if you are creating video – even if just short social video on Facebook – think in terms of serial video content.

Why? Because serial video content hooks us in to keep watching.  Just one more episode….

Some Final Tips

  1. Don't make it too long when starting out. Think in terms of what people can binge watch in one sitting. It might be worth doing 6 episodes vs 60.
  2. Batch create your video content. Instead of recording one episode, record 5 or 10 at once. You already have the equipment out, even if it is your iphone. Batch recording saves so much set-up and pack-down time, so why not do a few at once?
  3. Tease us into watching the next episode. Add a teaser, promise something, keep us hanging. Think about how your favourite TV series keep you watching just one episode. Make us want to keep watching.
  4. Encourage your followers to visit your playlists from other platforms or, say, in the case of Instagram from your feed to Instagram Stories and Instagram Stories to IGTV.
  5. Want a great tool to Create Serial Video Content? I highly recommend Wave.Video as it allows you to easily create vertical and ladscape or square video in a snap – it just takes one click to change your video orientation.  You can get 10% off Wave herePlease note that this is an affiliate link and if you purchase Wave I will get a small commission at no cost to you. 

Over to You!

Are you creating serial video content? Do you consume serial video content?
What types of visual content tips would you like to see me create in a series? 
How to Hook Us with Serial Video Content We Can't Stop Watching
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Donna Moritz

Visual Social Media Strategist at Socially Sorted
Donna is a Visual Content Strategist and founder of Socially Sorted, listed by Forbes as a "Top 5 Social Media Blog You Need to Know About". Donna helps brands leverage the power of visual storytelling and content strategy in their business. Her content has been featured in publications such as Forbes, Inc. & Entrepreneur and she is a speaker and trainer on visual content for the marketing and tourism industries internationally.